Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Top 10 Antioxidant Fruits and Nuts

Fruits and nuts are good sources of antioxidants and a number of exotic fruits have recently become very popular due to their high antioxidant content. Some people refer to these fruits as “superfoods” and are marketed aggressively to get the consumers’ attention.

If you must believe some of these marketers, each one of these exotic fruits has astronomical (ORAC) antioxidant values. For my list, I only used ORAC numbers that were either published in scientific journals or were available from publications by the National Institute on Aging in Baltimore, Maryland. The ORAC values listed here are micromoles of Trolox equivalents (TE is a vitamin E derivative) per gram.

The fact that a particular food has the highest levels of antioxidants, does not necessarily mean that that food offers the most health benefits. The bio-availability of each food is different and depends on how well it is being absorbed in our intestines, how it is processed by the liver and kidneys, and if it can cross the blood-brain barrier (for it to have a positive effect on the brain).

  1. Acai (dried fruit) 1016/gram
  2. Acai fruit (Euterpe oleraceae) has probably one of the highest antioxidant levels of any food, and is particularly effective against superoxide radicals. Because of this, acai has a very good effect on general health. It also has potential inhibiting activity against Cox-1 and Cox-2, and may therefore be helpful as a treatment for arthritis. Acai is used in many different drinks and foods.

  3. Goji Berry (Wolfberry) 253/gram
  4. Goji berry or wolfberry (Lycium barbarum and Lycium chinense) belong to the nightshade family (potatoes, eggplant, tomatoes). Goji berries have a very high antioxidant activity and have been used in South East Asia for a long time. Compounds in goji berries increase nitric oxide levels in blood and could therefore be helpful to combat erectile dysfunction.

  5. Mangosteen
  6. The stem and roots of the Mangosteen (Garcinia mangostana) plant contain a number of compounds (xanthones) that have potentially anti-cancer properties. Many of these compounds are thought to inhibit the aromatase enzyme, an enzyme belonging to the Cytochrome P450 family that converts androgens (testosterone and similar) into estrogens. Mangosteen may also be beneficial to men over 40 who wish to increase their testosterone levels.

  7. Noni
  8. Noni (Morinda citrifolia) juice has been shown to have a protecting effect on the liver. It has a high antioxidant value and it has been shown to dilate blood vessels. For this reason it may not be suitable for use by rosacea sufferers.

  9. Pecans 180 units/gram
  10. Pecan (Carya illinoinensis) trees are mainly found in the southern parts of the United States and some parts of Mexico. Pecan nuts have a buttery taste and can be eaten by itself or can be used in a variety of deserts (pecan pie). Research has suggested that the antioxidants in pecans can lower bad cholesterol (LDL) levels and that daily consumption of a handful of pecans may protect against heart disease.

  11. Black Chokeberry 160 units/gram
  12. Black chokeberries (Aronia melanocarpa) contain high levels of dark pigments, mainly anthocyanins, which have antioxidant properties. Because of chokeberries’ high antioxidant level, chokeberries may be beneficial for a number of diseases, including heart disease, certain cancers, liver disease and chronic inflammation.

  13. Elderberry 147 units/gram
  14. The most common Elderberry (Sambucus nigra) produces black fruit when ripe. All parts of the plant except for the flowers and ripe fruit, are poisonous. Elderberry extract is rich in antioxidants and can be used to treat bronchitis and persistent coughs, since it is believed to act as an expectorant.

  15. Walnuts 135 units/gram
  16. Walnuts (Juglans regia) are high in antioxidants, ALA (an omega-3 fatty acid) and arginine. It has recently been shown that consumption of walnuts can protect against atherosclerosis by limiting the detrimental effect of high levels of unsaturated fats in peoples’ diet. Studies have also shown that walnut extract is able to keep beta-amyloid protein in a soluble form and preventing the breakdown of acetylcholine, both of which could delay the onset of Alzheimer’s disease.

  17. Pomegranate 105 units/gram
  18. Pomegranate (Punica granatum) is high in antioxidants and may be beneficial for cardiovascular health and high blood pressure. Pomegranate seed oil contains compounds that can inhibit estrogens and has been shown to inhibit the proliferation of breast cancer cells in vitro.

  19. Cranberries 96 units/gram
  20. Cranberries have long been considered a “superfood”, containing high levels of antioxidants. Cranberry juice is beneficial for kidney and bladder health and is able to inhibit plaque formation (on teeth). A component of cranberry juice prevents the attachment of bacteria to the wall of the bladder and urethra.

Blueberries with an ORAC score of 65 units/gram, fell just outside the list, but have many health benefits as well.

12 Superfoods for Gorgeous Skin

You’d have to be living under a rock to not hear of the super food craze. They taste delicious, they’re good for you and they may even have the power to change your life. Here are 12 super foods for drop dead gorgeous skin.

Avocado- the anti-wrinkle warrior


One of the most nutrient-dense foods, avocados are high in fiber and top the charts among all fruits for folate, potassium, vitamin E, and magnesium. Packed with antioxidants, avocados are your best food weapon in the fight against wrinkles.

Dandelion- toxin eliminator


The use of Dandelions helps detoxify the system, thus, improving health, increasing mobility and reducing stiffness in the joints, dandelion leaves (usually drunk as a tea) are excellent for cleansing toxins from the body, or you can add young ones to a green salad.

Grapes- free radical fighter


Nourishing, mood-boosting and brilliant at sorting all manner of ailments, keep a bunch in the fridge at all times. The essential fatty acids, and amino acids that your skin will be protected from the environment, maintain its moisture better, and keep its elasticity longer, among other things. It is also a tremendous free radical fighter which is noted for cardiovascular health, brain health and even mental alertness.

Kiwi- the skin firmer


This small, brown, fuzzy fruit is loaded with vitamin C and antioxidants, which keep skin firm, help prevent wrinkles, and are great for healthy bones and teeth. The antioxidants in kiwis also protect you from cancer and heart disease. One kiwi contains more vitamin C than an orange; it’s also a good source of potassium, which helps keep your muscles functioning properly.

Millet- vitality


Millet is a good replacement for refined grains such as white rice and pasta. One of the oldest foods known to humans dating back to 2,700 BC. A health-food-shop staple, millet is rich in silicon, which is vital for healthy skin, hair, teeth, eyes and nails. Millet is also high in fiber, the B-Complex, lecithin, vitamin E, iron, magnesium phosphorous and potassium

Oats- stress alleviator


Oats are low in calories, high in fiber and protein. They’re a rich source of magnesium, potassium. zinc, copper, manganese, selenium, thiamine, and pantothenic acid.. As well as helping improve your skin, they are brilliant for those suffering from stress and tiredness.

Oily fish


Oily fish is a super food because it contains a special supply of omega 3 fats.We all know oily fish are excellent in our diets, but which fish actually qualify as ‘oily’? Oily fish includes salmon, mackerel, trout, fresh water tuna, herring, shrimp, crab, sardines and pilchards.

Oysters- re-animator


Most think of oysters as aphrodisiacs, but they are a good source of zinc, which aids in skin cell renewal and repair. Zinc also keeps your nails, hair, and eyes healthy. Who needs an aphrodisiac when you look and feel beautiful?

Pumpkin seeds- the improver


It’s not just the inner meat of a pumpkin that’s virtuous, but its seeds are super nutritous too and contain a wealth of health-promoting properties.Tossing a handful of pumpkin seeds into your morning muesli is one of the easiest ways to improve your skin and although it’s the seeds which really work the magic, the pulp of both pumpkins and squashes are also good for all manner of other ailments.

Sprouted seeds- holy grail


“The most live, pure, nutritious food imaginable”, sprouted seeds are cheap and easy to grow yourself or, these days, can also be bought from most supermarkets.A mere 3.5 ounces of sprouted seeds contains a whopping 22.78 grams of protein! Add them to sandwiches, salads and stir-fry.

Strawberries- the cleanser


Strawberries contain a phytonutrient called quercetin, which has been shown to reduce and kill cancer cells (they inhibit cancer cell proliferation). They are also known as brain food, as they help with memory. High in iron and brilliant for cleansing your whole system, strawberries are an all-round, must-eat superfood. Plus, they taste great, too.

Watercress- blemish zapper


A brilliant salad accessory, watercress is full of vitamins A and C, not to mention 15 other essential vitamins and minerals, watercress has enjoyed super food status for centuries. and works like a natural antibiotic, helping zap unwanted blemishes and heal the skin.