Sources of Natural Antioxidants - Improve your Skin & Health

Natural Antioxidants

Health & Natural Sources are Optimal for Healthy Living

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Antioxidants quench free radicals (toxins that can cause cell damage); the more oxygen your body uses, the more free radicals your body produces. Hard and heavy weight training creates lots of free radicals; so, especially if you're an athlete, free radicals are a significant concern not only in terms of recovery and muscle growth, but also health. The need for antioxidants, then, is much greater for athletes and bodybuilders than for the average person.

We all know that eating more fruits and vegetables (F&V) enhances health, but they're also an excellent natural source of antioxidants. The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) has developed a test to measure foods for their antioxidant activity, which is also called oxygen radical absorbance capacity (ORAC). While this test isn't perfect, it does give an idea of antioxidant values for various foods. In an ORAC study, USDA researchers fed several mice regular mouse chow, which contains 100% of the daily recommended nutrients for the animals, and not much else a wild mouse would normally eat. Mouse chow is better for mice than a typical American diet is for humans. The scientists then added blueberries, strawberries or spinach to the diets of some of the mice. The animals were then left alone to see what would happen to them as they aged.

Researchers know very well what happens to mice as they age under controlled circumstances, so any changes in aging patterns could be correlated to those antioxidant-rich foods added to the mouse chow. The researchers found that mice fed high-ORAC F&V had better memory, keeping their ability to respond to neurotransmitters for a longer time period. Extrapolating this finding to humans, we can conclude that people will feel better, maintain balance and , coordination, and have much I stronger blood vessels — f meaning less heart disease and strokes later in life — if they increase the antioxidant-dense F&V in their diets. This line of research is recent, and is only a first attempt to scientifically determine what eating fresh F&V will do; but, so far, so good.

White grapes, onions, corn, eggplant, cauliflower, frozen peas, white potatoes and sweet potatoes have ORAC values between 300 and 500. Cantaloupe, bananas, apples, carrots, tomatoes, zucchini, apricots, peaches, yellow squash, pears and watermelon have ORAC values between 100 and 300. Other veggies, such as iceberg lettuce, are notable by their absence. I think iceberg lettuce is simply a watery bag of pesticides, and here's the proof: It has no antioxidant value. Red wine has an ORAC of over 1,000 per glass; so, at least in this respect, red wine is a better nutritional source than iceberg lettuce.

Except when specified otherwise, these ORAC values are for fresh raw F&V. Cooking or canning kills much of the antioxidant activity - note the difference between raw and steamed spinach. This means that fresh fruits and salads with several green nonlettuce ingredients are the best bet to increase the amount of antioxidants in your diet - and your body.

Dried fruits such as prunes and raisins have very high ORAC levels, but their values are inflated because they are dried (and thus concentrated). Who eats that much dried fruit at once, anyway? When you I eat a normal serving of these dried fruits, ORAC values are in line with fresh-fruit values. Berries and green things have the highest ORAC values. Pop-Tarts, Fruit Roll-Ups, Life Savers and M&M's do not count as fruits and veggies. Sorry. That said, other data shows that chocolate (the dark kind, not milk chocolate) is a very good antioxidant. Green tea is probably the best antioxidant of all, especially if you drink five cups a day. Even coffee can be an antioxidant in typical serving sizes. Spices like rosemary, thyme, sage, curry, turmeric, cinnamon, cloves, mace, allspice, licorice, bay leaves, paprika, marjoram and especially garlic are all potent antioxidants. You can use them liberally to flavor other foods.

If you consume more antioxidants from foods, that can translate to better health and easier aging. You can't go wrong with berries and dark green things. It's still smart to mix and match all the listed F&V because each provides a unique balance of vitamins, minerals and phytochemicals. Just remember to use ORAC values as a guide and not to take the numbers too seriously. After all, man cannot live on dried prunes alone. Other veggies, such as iceberg lettuce, are notable by their absence. I think iceberg lettuce is simply a watery bag of pesticides, and here's the proof: It has no antioxidant value. Red wine has an ORAC of over 1,000 per glass; so, at least in this respect, red wine is a better nutritional source than iceberg lettuce.

Except when specified otherwise, these ORAC values are for fresh raw F&V. Cooking or canning kills much of the antioxidant activity - note the difference between raw and steamed spinach. This means that fresh fruits and salads with several green nonlettuce ingredients are the best bet to increase the amount of antioxidants in your diet - and your body.

Dried fruits such as prunes and raisins have very high ORAC levels, but their values are inflated because they are dried (and thus concentrated). Who eats that much dried fruit at once, anyway? When you I eat a normal serving of these dried fruits, ORAC values are in line with fresh-fruit values. Berries and green things have the highest ORAC values. Pop-Tarts, Fruit Roll-Ups, Life Savers and M&M's do not count as fruits and veggies. Sorry. That said, other data shows that chocolate (the dark kind, not milk chocolate) is a very good antioxidant. Green tea is probably the best antioxidant of all, especially if you drink five cups a day. Even coffee can be an antioxidant in typical serving sizes. Spices like rosemary, thyme, sage, curry, turmeric, cinnamon, cloves, mace, allspice, licorice, bay leaves, paprika, marjoram and especially garlic are all potent antioxidants. You can use them liberally to flavor other foods.

If you consume more antioxidants from foods, that can translate to better health and easier aging. You can't go wrong with berries and dark green things. It's still smart to mix and match all the listed F&V because each provides a unique balance of vitamins, minerals and phytochemicals. Just remember to use ORAC values as a guide and not to take the numbers too seriously. After all, man cannot live on dried prunes alone.




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