The history of anti-oxidants is not well documented. The concept first appeared in medial literature in the early 19th century. Since then, we have learned a lot about the nature and relationship between free-radicals and anti-oxidants. We have learned that these are naturally occurring in our body, and that together create an equilibrium that balances each other out. However, when poor diets, carcinogens, toxic chemicals and environments are prevalent (as they are in our in the modern world) our body can no longer maintain this equilibrium as our body is now forced to counter-balance the high levels of free-radicals that are not naturally occurring within our body, but brought into our bodies from the outside. So what does this do to our body?
To be clear, free-radicals are not bad in that our body uses them and produces them for a variety of important functions such as our liver, which produces a certain level of free-radicals to help detoxify the body. White blood cells produce free-radicals to help fight off bacteria and viruses which inhibit cellular growth. However, when the balance between free-radicals and anti-oxidants (which help to reduce the oxidation produced by free-radicals) is in-balanced, the affects of free-radicals on the body become very pronounced and severe. These affects include premature aging, damaged or mutated cells (cancer), low energy levels, etc.
Because of the large amount of outside free-radicals our bodies are now forced to contend with, we must not expect our body to naturally produce the level of anti-oxidants needed to counterbalance the unnatural levels of free-radicals we are exposed to. Thus, it is essential we consume extra anti-oxidants. In modern times, nutritionists use a scale called the ORAC scale (Oxygen Radical Absorption Capacity). This scale rates a plants ability to absorb and eliminate free radicals. Most common antioxidants include forms like vitamin E, lutein, vitamin C, beta-carotene, flavonoids and lycopene. Currently, there are no recommended dosages of anti-oxidants one should take, however, the more you take the better. So where can we find the highest level of anti-oxidants? Below are a list of foods and herbs:
- Goji berries: 25,000 ORAC score (where to find)
- Wild blueberries: 14,000 ORAC score
- Dark chocolate: 21,000 ORAC score
- Pecans: 17,000 ORAC score
- Artichoke: 9,400 ORAC score
- Elderberries: 14,000 ORAC score
- Kidney beans: 8,400 ORAC score
- Cranberries: 9,500 ORAC score
- Blackberries: 5,300 ORAC score
- Cilantro: 5,100 ORAC score
- Clove:314,446 ORAC score
- Cinnamon: 267,537 ORAC score
- Oregano: 159,277 ORAC score
- Turmeric: 102,700 ORAC score
- Cocoa: 80,933 ORAC score (where to find)
- Cumin: 76,800 ORAC score
- Parsley (dried): 74,349 ORAC score
- Basil: 67,553 ORAC score
- Ginger: 28,811 ORAC score
- Thyme: 27,426 ORAC score
As you can see, Herbs (on average) contain a much higher ORAC score than foods. Judging by the list above, the 10th highest herb has a higher ORAC score higher than the #1 food (Goji berries). This is interesting because we are constantly told about foods like blueberries and others that contain high levels of anti-oxidants. However, you can get so much more by consuming herbs that contain high levels of anti-oxidants. Plus you can use these foods to make other nutritious foods even better for you! Also, almost all of the herbs listed above are available in Essential oil form. This makes consuming these herbs even easier as you can simply add a few drops to your food and/or even consume them topically or aromatically. Make sure if you do use Essential oils they are sourced from naturally, GMO-free sources (as the quality of the herb used to make the oil makes all the difference).