Antioxidants have many benefits

Different fruits and vegetables have different antioxidants.

January 4, 2018 - Author: Saneya Moore, Michigan State University Extension

Antioxidants can help our bodies prevent diseases and occur naturally in fruits and vegetables. Different fruits and vegetables have different antioxidants that help protect different parts of our body. 

Antioxidants work by destroying free radicals that are found in our body. Free radicals in the body are able to cause damage by taking an electron from a healthy cell; this process is known as oxidative stress.

Free radicals attack healthy cells in the body and try to gain a healthy electron from the cells, which turns the healthy cell into a free radical. Many things can increase free radicals in our body like herbicides, pollution and cigarette smoke. Other factors that may contribute to an increase in free radicals in our bodies are stress, lack of exercise and sleep. Antioxidants can be replenished by either the body or through our diets. Research has shown that antioxidants can slow the signs of aging, protect our vision and our eyes, decrease cancer risks, and helps prevent loss of cognition.

An Oxygen Radical Absorbance Capacity Test is used to measure the power and capacity of the antioxidant in food items and supplements. An ORAC score is generated from this test.

Our western lifestyle increases our chances of the proliferation of free radicals in the body. In order to reduce these numbers, it is important to have a healthy diet and incorporate foods that are rich in antioxidants on a daily basis. It is recommended that in the U.S. to eat at least five servings of fruit and vegetables (three vegetables and two fruits) daily.

The following is a list of foods high in antioxidants and their ORAC score:

  1. Goji berries: 25,000 ORAC score
  2. Wild blueberries: 14,000 ORAC score
  3. Dark chocolate: 21,000 ORAC score
  4. Pecans: 17,000 ORAC score
  5. Artichoke: 9,400 ORAC score
  6. Elderberries: 14,000 ORAC score
  7. Kidney beans: 8,400 ORAC score
  8. Cranberries: 9,500 ORAC score
  9. Blackberries: 5,300 ORAC score
  10. Cilantro: 5,100 ORAC score

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