You may already be aware of the health benefits of consuming antioxidant rich foods, and how they have a positive impact on your health. In an nutshell, antioxidants are thought to be responsible for protecting the cells in your body from free-radical damage. These pesky free-radicals are thought to play a role in many different ailments, from skin damage to all forms of cancer.
Although essentially all whole foods contain antioxidants, some are far more potent than others. Scientists use what is know as the ORAC Value (Oxygen Radical Absorbance Capacity) to measure the antioxidant capacity of foods. Foods at the top of the list that have the highest ORAC value or “ORAC score” contain the most antioxidants, where as those lower on the list contain less.
Below are five versatile and antioxidant rich foods that you should include in your diet to help combat free-radicals. All foods listed here are in the top 50 on the ORAC value chart.
1. Acai Berry – ORAC Value: 102,700
Rich in vitamins B, K, and the minerals potassium, manganese, copper, iron, and magnesium. They contain a large number of polyphenolic
anthocyanin compounds, which have been linked to numerous health benefits.
Best sources in North America: Organic acai berry powder.
How to consume: Add powder to smoothies and other liquids.
2. Cocoa Powder – ORAC Value: 80,933
Best sources in North America: Organic, fair trade powder that is not dutch processed.
How to consume: Add to baked goods, energy bars, smoothies, and nut butters.
3. Goji Berries – ORAC Value: 25,300
High in fibre, and an excellent source of vitamin C and beta carotene. Goji berries are also jam packed with a hefty amount of power phytonutrients including beta-sitosterol and kukoamine, which may have cholesterol lowering properties according to studies.
Best sources in North America: Organic dried goji berries, or goji berry powder.
How to consume: Add dried goji berries to other foods, and goji berry powder to smoothies.
4. Walnuts – ORAC Value: 13,541
Best sources in North America: Raw California Walnuts that have been properly stored.
How to consume: Best eaten raw by the handful or mixed in with other foods. Cooking walnuts can damage the fragile omega-3 fatty acids and is not recommended.
5. Cranberries – ORAC Value: 9,584
Though an excellent source of vitamin C and fibre, what really makes cranberries stand out is their exceptionally high levels of phytonutrients that work synergistically with each other. Cranberries contain phenolic acid, proanthocyanidins, anthocyanins, triterpenoids and flavonoids – a powerful combination of free-radical scavengers.
Best sources in North America: Fresh, frozen, or dried cranberries contain the highest amounts of antioxidants. Unfortunately the process used to manufacture cranberry juice removes a large portion of this fruits beneficial nutrients.
How to consume: Add fresh cranberries to smoothies. Dry cranberries can be added to cereals, trail mix, or eaten by themselves.
Do you include any of the foods listed above in your diet? Please discuss by leaving a comment below!