Antioxidants - Disease Prevention, Natural Healing, Anti-Aging
comes from the damage they can do when they react with important cellular
components such as DNA, or the cell membrane.  When this occurs, cells may
function poorly or die.  Antioxidants are known as free radical scavengers because
they are the body's defense mechanism against free radical damage.  Antioxidants
play major roles in disease prevention, anti-aging, and healing.  When free radicals
cause cellular damage, they increase the risk of developing chronic illnesses and
conditions such as cancer, heart disease, Alzheimer's, and Parkinson's disease.  
Eating rainbow foods, especially those with high levels of antioxidants, is one of the
best ways to decrease the risk of chronic illnesses.   Antioxidants also play a role in
the healing of chronic illnesses due to their ability to neutralize free radicals.


Antioxidants in Fruits, Vegetables, Herbs and Spices

The best source of antioxidants is plant foods such as fruits, vegetables, and beans.   
There are over 5,000 antioxidants and they're all contained within the various
rainbow colors of fruits, vegetables, legumes, nuts, seeds, sprouts, grains, teas, and
micro-algae.  To provide the body with an adequate supply of antioxidants, the
regular consumption of rainbow plant foods is recommended.  Although most plant
foods contain antioxidants in varying amounts, the best food sources of antioxidants
are those with vivid colors such as beans, beets, bell peppers, berries, broccoli,
carrots, cantaloupe, citrus fruits, dark green leafy vegetables, mangoes, micro-algae,
papaya, pumpkin, sweet potatoes, tea, tomatoes, and watermelon.  Eating several
of these foods on a daily basis provides a vast array of antioxidants and other
nutrients for the body.  

The ORAC Value (Oxygen Radical Absorbance Capacity) is a system developed by
researchers at the National Institute of Aging as a way to measure the antioxidant
capacity of different foods.  It is believed that foods higher on the ORAC Value scale
are more effective at neutralizing free radicals, particularly due to their high
antioxidant content.  


Fruits With the Highest ORAC values

Of all the fruits that have been tested on the ORAC value scale, berries have the
highest level of antioxidant capacity.  This includes acai berries, black berries,
blueberries, camu camu berries, cherries, cranberries, and goji berries.  The berries
with the highest ORAC values are acai berries.     


Vegetables With the Higest ORAC Values

Of all the vegetables that have been tested on the ORAC value scale, beans have the
highest level of antioxidant capacity.  This includes bean sprouts, which actually have
more antioxidant capacity than bean seeds.  The beans that scored highest on the
ORAC value scale are red beans, kidney beans, pinto beans, and black beans.  


Herbs and Spices With the Highest ORAC values

The herbs and spices that scored the highest on the ORAC value scale are basil,
cinnamon, cloves, marjoram, oregano, rosemary, thyme, and turmeric.  Cloves have
the highest ORAC values of all the herbs and spices tested.   


Although all antioxidants help to protect the body from free radical damage, each
antioxidant has it's own unique set of health benefits.  To get the most health
benefits from antioxidants, naturopath doctors and health experts recommended
eating a wide variety of rainbow plant foods.  


Sources:

Wikipedia The Free Encyclopedia

Murray , Michael N.D.. The Encyclopedia Of Healing Foods.
New York: Atria Books, 2005.

Bowden, Jonny, Ph.D., C.N.S. The 150 Healthiest Foods on Earth.
Fairwinds Press, 2007

http://www.rice.edu

http://oracvalues.com
Antioxidants are nutrients that
protect cells from damage caused by
unstable molecules known as free
radicals.  There are thousands of
antioxidants contained in plant foods,
and each antioxidant nutrient works
to prevent the formation of free
radicals and neutralize those that are
already there.  Free radicals are
atoms or groups of atoms that can
be formed when oxygen interacts
with certain molecules.  Free radicals
are a byproduct of normal cell
function and play an important role in
a number of biological processes.  
The main danger of free radicals
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