Antioxidant Facts

Some antioxidant facts have been covered in the page on Preventing Degenerative Diseases. Let's review an antioxidant definition. To do that we have to start by reviewing what we've already said about free radicals.

Free radicals consist of unstable oxygen molecules with one or more UNPAIRED electrons in their outer orbit.

• Normal oxygen molecule has 4 pairs of electrons but the body’s natural metabolic processes can rob the oxygen of an electron – it is now a free radical and tries to replace the lost electron by raiding other molecules;

•They dash crazily about crashing into other particles and tissues trying to pair up with other oxygen molecules and become whole again;

• On impact with various cells of the body they actually produce bursts of light;

• They seek other molecules from which they can borrow their lost electron to gain stability;

• If left unchecked by antioxidants, over time they create cumulative damage;

•By having adequate antioxidant intake the free radicals are neutralized by getting that missing electron.

There are many types of antioxidants listed in my book

Its About Health and you can review that list there.

For simplicity at this point let's mention that many vitamins, minerals and enzymes are antioxidants or have antioxidant properties. These can be reviewed on this site at List of Vitamins and at List of Minerals

Antioxidants and Chemotherapy

One of the disputed antioxidant facts is a belief that they are detrimental when undergoing chemotherapy or radiation treatments.

A 1999 review article looked at 71 different studies that examined the question of taking high dose multiple antioxidants while receiving chemo or radiation therapy. Many oncologists argue against the use of antioxidants because they hypothesize that this will strengthen the cancer cells that chemo and radiation seek to destroy. This article found the opposite was true. Cancer cells actually take in the antioxidants in much greater amounts because the natural feedback mechanism that controls intake into normal cells does not operate in cancer cells. Consequently the cancer cell in taking in too much of the antioxidants weakens and is more easily destroyed by chemo and radiation. Thus taking well balanced multiple antioxidants actually enhances the chemo and radiation WHILE protecting the healthy cells against the destructive effects of chemo and radiation. J Am Coll Nutr 1999; 13-25

As with all medical studies, unless you are an M.D., consult with your physician before you use these findings for your own care or for the care of others. If you do not have a legal right to prescribe, do NOT prescribe.

So that's some information about antioxidants and chemotherapy. A number of other articles with similar findings can be found in Its About Health

Foods High in Antioxidants

In 2004, six researchers (Xianli Wu, Gary R. Beecher, Joanne M. Holden, David B. Haytowitz, Susan E. Gebhardt and Ronald L. Prior (lead author) all of the US Department of Agriculture) reported on the results of testing the antioxidant content of over 100 foods - fruits, vegetables, cereals, breads, nuts and spices. This study gives us more antioxidant facts.

The top 20 list is a bit surprising since such high values have been assumed for blueberries and wild blackberries. While these are good, there are some sources that have higher antioxidant capacity per a normal size serving.

For simplicity in explaining their findings I have given the best source (red beans) a value of 100% and rated the other 19 against them.

100% - Half Cup of Small Red Beans (dried)

97.8% - One Cup of Wild Blueberries

96.6% - Half Cup of Red Kidney Beans (dried)

86.4% - Half Cup of Pinto Beans

65.7% - One Cup of Blueberries(cultivated)

65.4% - One Cup of Cranberries 57.5% - One Cup of Artichokes (cooked) (hearts)

56.1% - One Cup of Blackberries 53.1% - Half Cup of Dried Prunes

44.1% - One Cup of Raspberries

43.3% - One Cup of Strawberries

43.0% - One Red Delicious Apple

39.2% - One Granny Smith Apple

37.1% - One Ounce of Pecans 35.5% - One Cup of Sweet Cherries

35.3% - One Black Plum

33.9% - One Russet Potato

30.5% - Half Cup of Black Beans (dried)

30.0% - One Plum

28.4% - One Gala Apple

The full findings of this ground breaking research can be reviewed at J Agric Food Chem 2004; 52 (11): 3674–3678. Since that time the USDA has continued to lead with some additional exciting research on the antioxidant capacity of foods and hopefully they will soon publish an updated list of foods high in antioxidants.

If you are interested in constructing a really healthy diet you could combine these antioxidant facts with the information on

the Healthy Eating page of this site.



Well that's a lot of antioxidant facts for one page on a website, maybe too much. For those who want more you will find lots more information, including full citations and summaries of studies from medical journals in my book Its About Health .



But you can also continue to surf the 200 free pages of this website for lots of valuable, evidence-based information.

To continue in the main thread of the Steps to Protect Your Body go on now to Protect Your Skin - Your Largest Organ

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