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Antioxidant

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An Antioxidant is a substance that works against oxidation. In medicinal parlance, an antioxidant has come to mean a substance that protects cells against the action of free radicals. Free radicals are molecules that can damage cells and are thought to play a role in disease.

Some examples of antioxidants include Vitamins A, C and E, lycopene (found in tomatoes), beta-carotene (found in carrots and several other orange fruit / veg), and lutein. [1]

Antioxidant capacities of foods are measured with an index known as ORAC, which stands for Oxygen Radical Absorbance Capacity.

In addition to fruits and vegetables, several herbs have been found by studies to be high in antioxidants. In USDA studies published a few years ago, several of the herbs found to be highest in antioxidants were culinary herbs. The Oreganos scored highest - Italian Oregano (Origanum x majoricum), which demonstrated 42 times more antioxidant activity than apples, Common Oregano (O. vulgare ssp. hirtum) and Mexican Oregano (Poliomintha longiflora). Medicinal herbs with the highest ORAC values were Madagascar Periwinkle (Catharanthus roseus), St. John's Wort (Hypericum perforatum), and Sweet Wormwood (Artemisia annua). [2]

Other herbs found to be high in antioxidants were Dill, Garden Thyme, Rosemary, Peppermint, Rose Geranium, Sweet Bay, Purple Amaranth, Winter Savory and Vietnamese Coriander. [3]

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Sources

[1] http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/antioxidants.html
[2] http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/11714298
[3] http://www.whfoods.com/genpage.php?tname=news&dbid=35

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