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Antioxidants Counterbalance Free Radicals in the Body

Antioxidants are molecules that inhibit oxidation, the chemical reaction that produces free radicals, which damage cells. Antioxidant enzymes such as selenium methionine peroxidase, catalase, glutathione peroxidase and superoxide dismutase are produced by the body. Fruits, vegetables, herbs and spices that are considered part of a healthy diet also contain antioxidants, in addition to food-based supplements.

The level of antioxidants present in foods is measured by oxygen radical absorption capacity (ORAC), which also tests the capacity of the body to absorb and eliminate free radicals. Berries such as goji, acai, wild blueberries, elderberries, cranberries and blackberries have the highest ORAC measurements between 9,500 and 25,000. Cocoa, dark chocolate, artichokes, beans (kidney, red, black and pinto) and green tea have ORAC measurements between 9,400 and 21,000.

In a 2011 study conducted by Loma Linda University, pecans, with an ORAC level of 17,000, were shown to prevent heart disease.  

Herbs and spices such as clove, cinnamon, oregano, rosemary, fresh cilantro, garlic, cayenne pepper, turmeric, cumin, dried parsley, basil, ginger and green tea rank as some of the highest antioxidant-rich foods in nature.

According to Dr. Josh Axe, when antioxidant levels in the body are lower than that of free radicals—due to poor nutrition, toxin exposure or other factors—oxidation wreaks havoc in the body, causing accelerated aging, damaged or mutated cells, broken-down tissue, the activation of harmful genes within DNA and an overloaded immune system.

Keith I. Block, M.D., medical director of the Block Center for Integrative Cancer Treatment and director of integrative medical education at the University of Illinois College of Medicine, notes that antioxidants are necessary in terms of laying a solid health foundation to prevent and combat illness. He highly recommends that a vitamin supplement program should enhance a healthy diet,rather than be a substitute for it.

Caroline Thonton is the owner of Spa One Day Spa, in Punta Gorda, a nutritional consultant and health advocate for Modere, a 30-year-old international leader in organic personal care and home health products. For more information, call 941-457-6806 or visit BeautifulHealth.Today.

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