Thursday, July 29, 2010


The reason that fruits (and vegetables) are so important to your overall health is that they are major purveyors of antioxidants. Antioxidant molecules are like the missile-defense system of your body, preventing damage from molecular bombs called free radicals. It works like this: in order to breathe, move or eat, your body’s cells convert food and oxygen into energy. This chemical reaction releases harmful by-products, the free radicals. Basically, they are highly reactive forms of oxygen that are missing an electron. Desperate for that missing electron, they steal them from normal cells, damaging the healthy cell and its DNA in the process. This damage eventually contributes to any number of major health problems, including heart disease, memory loss and cancer.

25 Vitamin-Rich Foods You Should Be Eating

© George Doyle/Stockbyte/Thinkstock

Antioxidants, however, interfere with this process by giving free radicals one of their own electrons to stabilize them. Or they combine with free radicals to form different, more stable compounds. There are also antioxidant enzymes that help free radicals to react with other chemicals to produce safe, instead of toxic, substances. Antioxidants, for instance, help to prevent ‘bad’ LDL cholesterol from becoming stickier and forming artery-clogging plaque. This is why the health establishment is so insistent on people eating more fresh produce: it provides round-the-clock defenses against free-radical damage to your arteries.

Plus: 9 Ways to Get 9 Servings of Fruits and Vegetables

Of the hundreds of fruits out there, which ones are the best for you? The answer: the ones with the highest ORAC scores. ORAC stands for oxygen radical absorbance capacity, a fancy way of saying, ‘Which fruits and vegetables pack the greatest antioxidant punch?’ The rating system was developed by US scientists.

Top 10 Antioxidant-Rich Fruits
1. Prunes
2. Raisins
3. Blueberries
4. Blackberries
5. Strawberries
6. Raspberries
7. Plums
8. Oranges
9. Red Grapes
10. Cherries

info from reader digest

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