In the last NewsClips we told you about a new test for oxidized LDL that should revolutionize cardiology.
It turns out that LDL cholesterol isn’t the problem—it’s only oxidized LDL that causes heart attacks and strokes. And now a blood test for oxidized LDL has become widely available.
But oxidation doesn’t just cause heart disease; it plays a role in all of the chronic diseases and in aging itself. If you want to stay youthful and healthy, oxidation is something you need to address.
You can do that with antioxidants from food and supplements.
Oxidation is a normal biochemical reaction—it’s necessary to create energy from the food we eat; it’s also used to kill invading pathogens. But it can have destructive effects, creating something called free radicals ─ reactive molecules that damage DNA, cells and body tissues.
Fortunately the body has a way of keeping oxidation in check: compounds called antioxidants. Our bodies make antioxidants, like glutathione, and we get more from food (especially fruits and vegetables) and supplements.
The problem is that modern life has upset the natural balance between oxidation and antioxidants. Stress, poor diets, environmental pollution and other toxins, chronic illness and excess body fat, and chronic inflammation are all oxidizing factors which have tipped the balance and multiplied our need for antioxidants.
You can assess your unique antioxidant status with the new blood test for oxidized LDL. Functional medicine doctors can also order tests of oxidative stress from specialty labs like Genova Diagnostics, and also test for specific antioxidant vitamin and mineral deficiencies. Assessing bowel tolerance for vitamin C is another indication of your antioxidant status—the lower your status, the more vitamin C you will need to reach bowel tolerance.
One way to boost antioxidant status is by eating more fresh fruits and vegetables.
The gold standard for measuring antioxidant capacity is the ORAC unit. ORAC stands for “oxygen radical absorbance capacity,” or the ability to neutralize the harmful effects of free radicals. While 3,000-5,000 ORAC units per day are recommended under ideal circumstances, most of us will need many times this amount.
Here’s a list of the twenty top high-antioxidant fruits and vegetables with their ORAC scores per 100 grams (3½ ounces). These scores are indications only; growing conditions will change actual values. Organic produce, for example, is significantly higher in ORAC value than non-organic.
- Prunes 5770
- Raisins 2830
- Blueberries 2400
- Blackberries 2036
- Kale 1770
- Strawberries 1540
- Spinach 1260
- Raspberries 1220
- Brussels sprouts 980
- Plums 949
- Alfalfa Sprouts 930
- Broccoli Tops 890
- Beets 840
- Oranges 750
- Red Grapes 739
- Red Bell Pepper 710
- Cherries 670
- Kiwi 602
- Pink Grapefruit 483
- Onion 450
Many of the culinary herbs are also high in antioxidants, such as Basil, Cardamom, Cloves, Cilantro, Cinnamon, Cumin, Garlic, Ginger, Mint, Nutmeg, Oregano, Paprika, Rosemary, Saffron, Sage, Tarragon, Thyme and Turmeric.
Red wine and chocolate are also high-ORAC superfoods. But no matter how good our diet is, most people will need to take antioxidant supplements as well. We’ll tell you more about the many antioxidant supplements we carry at Beyond Health next time.