Oxidative Stress & Diet

by Trace on January 24, 2010

What is Oxidative Stress?

free-radicals-and-inflammation1An increased level of free radicals and other oxidation-promoting molecules associated with disease, immune activation, and/or aging.


An imbalance of pro-oxidant (damaging) /antioxidant (protective) chemicals in the body. This imbalance can be the result of inadequate dietary intake of antioxidants or chronic health conditions. www.kirkmanlabs.com/roadmap_glossary.html


An overload of free radicals has been linked to certain diseases, including heart disease, liver disease and some cancers.

Oxidation can be accelerated by stress, cigarette smoking, alcohol, sunlight, pollution and other factors.pollutionglobe2crop2

The BAD effect of free radicals ie when oxidation is accelerated:

Some of the degenerative conditions caused by free radicals include:

  • Deterioration of the eye lens, which contributes to blindness.
  • Inflammation of the joints (arthritis).
  • Damage to nerve cells in the brain, which contributes to conditions such as Parkinson’s or Alzheimer’s disease.
  • Acceleration of the ageing process.
  • Increased risk of coronary heart disease, since free radicals encourage low density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol to adhere to artery walls.
  • Certain cancers, triggered by damaged cell DNA.


Antioxidants are found in certain foods that neutralise free radicals.

A diet high in antioxidants may reduce the risk of many diseases, including heart disease and certain cancers. Antioxidants scavenge the free radicals from the body cells, and prevent or reduce the damage caused by oxidation.

  • These include the nutrient antioxidants, vitamins A, C and E, and the minerals copper, zinc and selenium.
  • Also, men who eat plenty of the antioxidant lycopene (found in tomatoes) may be less likely than other men to tomatoesdevelop prostate cancer.
  • Lutein, found in spinach and corn, has been linked to a lower incidence of eye lens degeneration and associated blindness in the elderly.
  • Flavonoids, such as the tea catechins found in green tea, are believed to contribute to the low rates of heart disease in Japan.


Best Sources of High Antioxidants Foods

  1. Fruits
    Berries (Cherry, blackberry, strawberry, raspberry, crowberry, blueberry, bilberry/wild blueberry, black currant), pomegranate, grape, orange, plum, pineapple, kiwi fruit, grapefruit.
  2. Vegetables
    Kale, chili pepper, red cabbage, peppers, parsley, artichoke, Brussels sprouts, spinach, lemon, ginger, red beets.
  3. Dry Fruits high in antioxidants
    Apricots, prunes, dates.
  4. Legumes
    Broad beans, pinto beans, soybeans.spinach
  5. Nuts and seeds
    Pecans, walnuts, hazelnuts, ground nut, sunflower seeds.
  6. Cereals
    Barley, millet, oats, corn.
  7. Spices
    cloves, cinnamon, oregano
  8. Scientists at the USDA have developed a rating scale that measures the antioxidant content of various natural plant foods. The scale is called ORAC, which stands for Oxygen Radical Absorbance Capacity.
  9. USDA recommends to eat foods containing at least 3,000 ORAC units a day.
  10. Moral: For natural antioxidants “Eat Fruits and Vegetables!”

For a more extensive guide go to



We often hear that fruits and vegetables are our best sources of antioxidants.

This is generally true but not all fruits and vegetables are created equal in terms of antioxidant potential.

A fascinating study published in 2004 in The Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry measured the antioxidant capacity of over 100 foods. The following table represents the top antioxidant rich foods as found in this study.


As antioxidant status is critically important to our health we should all make use of this research aiming to include some of these foods in our diet on a daily basis. As 65% of these top foods are fruits when choosing our daily fruit servings we should aim to predominantly eat fruits from this list. Berries are a delicious addition to a persons diet.

Table 1. Best Sources of Dietary Antioxidants.

Rank Food item Serving size Total antioxidant capacity per serve
1 Small Red Bean (dried) Half cup 13727
2 Wild blueberry 1 cup 13427
3 Red kidney bean (dried) Half cup 13259
4 Pinto bean Half cup 11864
5 Blueberry (cultivated) 1 cup 9019
6 Cranberry 1 cup (whole) 8983
7 Artichoke (cooked) 1 cup (hearts) 7904
8 Blackberry 1 cup 7701
9 Prune Half cup 7291
10 Raspberry 1 cup 6058
11 Strawberry 1 cup 5938
12 Red Delicious apple One 5900
13 Granny Smith apple One 5381
14 Pecan 1 ounce 5095
15 Sweet cherry 1 cup 4873
16 Black plum One 4844
17 Russet potato (cooked) One 4649
18 Black bean (dried) Half cup 4181
19 Plum One 4118
20 Gala apple One 3903


Blake Graham, BSc (Honours),

AACNEM (Australian College Nutrition and Environmental Medicine)

Also, antioxidant minerals or vitamins can act as pro-oxidants or damaging ‘oxidants’ if they are consumed at levels significantly above the recommended amounts for dietary intake.

A well-balanced diet, which includes consuming antioxidants from whole foods, is best. If you insist on taking a supplement, seek supplements that contain all nutrients at the recommended levels.

Natural antioxidant foods are fruits, vegetables, cereals, legumes, nuts and seeds. The best way to ensure adequate intake of the antioxidants is to eat a variety of fruits and vegetables through a diet consisting of 5 to 8 servings of fruits and vegetables per day plus whole grains, lean meats and dairy products. One serve is considered a medium-sizes piece of fruit or a half-cup of cooked vegetables.

For further advise seek your doctor, a dietician or nutrition medicine practitioner (ACNEM)


Share and Enjoy: These icons link to social bookmarking sites where readers can share and discover new web pages.
  • MisterWong
  • Y!GG
  • Webnews
  • Digg
  • del.icio.us
  • StumbleUpon
  • Reddit

{ 1 trackback }

Tweets that mention Oxidative Stress & Diet | How To Overcome Stress Naturally -- Topsy.com
January 25, 2010 at 6:29 pm

{ 0 comments… add one now }

Leave a Comment

Previous post:

Next post: