How to Count Antioxidants

Photo by: Bigstockphoto
Photo by: Bigstockphoto

Antioxidants refer to molecules that protect the body from oxidative stress. These molecules are typically found in fruits and vegetables. Health experts encourage people to take in more antioxidant-rich foods because these substances are needed for optimal health.

How Antioxidants Work

The human body produces free radicals naturally. These biochemical will attack healthy cells, causing cell damage that may lead to cell mutation. When healthy cells mutate, it could lead to various health disorders. Antioxidant counteracts the damages caused by free radicals, removing free radicals from the bloodstream and forming a protective layer that protects healthy cells from oxidation. Because the body needs antioxidants to maintain healthy, you have to replenish your supply of this nutrient.

In addition, different parts of your body will require different types of antioxidants. Some types of antioxidants work best to maintain sharper vision while others work well to keep the brain healthy. Antioxidants known as flavonoids are best for keeping the heart healthy and proanthocyanidins are meant to promote better urinary tract health. Some types of antioxidants work to strengthen the immune system and even calm a hyperactive immune system.

Free radicals could also cause all the typical signs of aging including wrinkles, skin blemishes, and ultraviolet damage and so on. When the skin is exposed to high level of ultraviolet rays, it will cause a chain reaction of oxidative stress, causing the skin to break down and lose its elasticity and youthfulness. Wrinkles will then start to form. Antioxidants like vitamin E help neutralize oxidative damage caused by harmful ultraviolet rays. By taking supplements or eating foods rich in vitamin E, you can achieve healthy, youthful, and glowing skin.

Counting Antioxidants for Optimum Health

Health experts recommend taking at least five portions of fruits and vegetable per day to achieve the optimum dietary amount of antioxidants. But it’s hard to keep track of how much vegetables or fruits you have to eat in order to meet your recommended daily allowance of this nutrient.

The good news is there is a rating scale that could help you count antioxidant content in foods. This rating system is called Oxygen Radical Absorbance Capacity or ORAC.

The value of ORAC is expressed in micromoles of Trolox Equivalents per 100 grams of sample. For instance, the USDA recommends that an adult should consume an intake of 1,000 to 5,000 ORAC units daily. The US Food and Drug Administration or DSA suggested that a person should consume around 7,000 ORAC units to achieve better health.

You can search online for tables that will denote the ORAC values of all types of food per 100 grams. Do note that the serving of different foods will vary widely.

On the ORAC scale, fruits like peaches, acai berry, blueberries, plums, and apples contain the highest level of antioxidants. By including these fruits in your diet, you will be able to meet your daily dietary allowance of antioxidants.

On the other hand, vegetables like broccoli, kidney beans, spinach, and cauliflowers contain the highest amount of antioxidants according to the ORAC scale.