How to Compare Antioxidant Supplements
Antioxidants are substances that protect against cell damage by reacting with and neutralizing free radicals. They can be naturally occurring chemicals found in such things as unprocessed food or they can be synthetic chemicals man-made in a laboratory. Antioxidants are also called free radical scavengers.
Free radicals can be produced from within the body by natural biological processes, or they can be introduced from outside via unhealthy eating habits, tobacco smoke, toxins and environmental pollutants. Free radicals are thought to accelerate the aging process as well as encourage the progression of diseases including cancer, cardiovascular disease, rheumatoid arthritis, and chronic fatigue.
As people become increasingly educated about the benefits of antioxidants, more and more antioxidant supplements are becoming available. It is a great feeling to have such a wide range of choices, yet it can be overwhelming to decide on which supplement will be of the most benefit to you.
The following are some points to consider when comparing antioxidant supplements:
Avoid products that have been pasteurized or flash-pasteurized.
Pasteurization is a method of processing food and beverages by heating them to a certain point for the purpose of destroying pathogenic (disease-causing) organisms. Pasteurization also stops fermentation and extends the shelf life of a product.
Unfortunately, pasteurization also destroys naturally-occurring vitamins and enzymes, many of which function as antioxidants.
Look for products containing certified organic ingredients.
Ingredients that are certified organic are grown and processed without the use of synthetic chemicals, fertilizers, or genetically modified organisms (GMO's).
Certified organic ingredients have been shown in a number of studies to contain more vitamins, nutrients and cancer-fighting antioxidants than non-organic ingredients.
Some ingredients to look for include raw cacao (pronounced kuh-KAH-oh or kuh-KOW), goji berries, pomegranate, Açai berries, blueberries, raspberries, and strawberries.
Avoid products that have added preservatives such as sodium benzoate or potassium sorbate.
Sodium benzoate is known to react with vitamin C (ascorbic acid) to form the cancer causing chemical benzene.
Potassium sorbate may affect children's health, behavior and learning. Some people report chest pain, difficulty breathing, and headaches after consuming products containing potassium sorbate.
Look for a product that has a high ORAC score per serving.
ORAC stands for Oxygen Radical Absorbency Capacity. It is a standardized measurement of the total antioxidant power of a substance. Antioxidant power is the ability to neutralize oxygen free radicals. The more free radicals a substance can absorb, the higher it's ORAC score.
Nutritionists recommend that we consume around 5000 ORAC units per day to significantly impact antioxidant activity in the body and reduce free radical damage. For comparison, one serving (half a cup) of fruits or vegetables provides approximately 500 ORAC units.
The following table compares the ORAC Scores per serving of 5 leading antioxidant supplements as well as some additional information.
Avoid antioxidant supplements that contain synthetic (man-made) antioxidants.
Unlike naturally-occurring antioxidants, synthetic analogs cannot be recycled and re-used by the body. When they are "spent", they tend to turn into harmful metabolic byproducts that increase, rather than decrease, the total load of oxidative stress on the body.
Berry Radical contains the following naturally occurring antioxidants: resveratrol, hydroxytyrosol, zeaxanthin, alpha and beta-carotene, lutein, lycopene, anthocyanin, cryptoxanthin, xanthophyll, epicatechin, quercetin, punicalagins and ellagic, chlorogenic, gallic, ferulic and caffeic acids from organically grown chocolate (raw cacao), berries, and fruits.
Recently, in the September 24, 2008 issue of the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry, there was an study published about the high resveratrol content of chocolate and cocoa.
According to Dr. Joseph Mercola, the best health benefits come from raw, unprocessed, organic cacao (which by itself is very bitter). Cacao is the raw ingredient that cocoa and chocolate are made from and is one of the ingredients in Berry Radical.
Keep ORAC scores in mind when comparing prices.
To purchase an equivalent amount of ORAC units as present in one box of Berry Radical:
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