11.16.18
high antioxidant foods

TCM Classics — This story was originally published on the site in 2017, but we loved it so much we decided to bring it back. Keep these fascinating facts in mind as you begin making your dinner party plans for Thanksgiving and the other upcoming winter holidays.

When it comes to wellness buzzwords, “antioxidant” is top of the list. It has us stashing goji in our desks for daily snacking, and tossing back blueberries like no one’s business. While filling up on high antioxidant foods like these is definitely important, it’s not necessarily the most efficient solution: According to science (spelled out in this article by former TCM Guest Editor, Dr. Axe), a sprinkle of spice here and there can provide a dose that’s 30 times more potent than the foods known for their high level of antioxidants!

Why should I care about antioxidants? The short answers is because healthy pros say so; the longer one is because the higher antioxidant foods and products we welcome into our lives, the more able our bodies are able to stop or delay the damaging of cells. Oxidants — the opposite of anitoxidants –are free radicals naturally produced by our bodies to help fight off viruses and other health-inhibiting invaders. They also occur in our environment via air pollution, smoke, alcohol etc. which can cause an unhealthy buildup in our systems. Oxidant overload can lead to accelerated aging, weakened immunity, and cellular damage linked to disease among other major health hurdles down the line. On the logical flip-side, inviting more antioxidants into our bodies directly combats these adverse effects.

Top 5: High Antioxidant FoodsThe following edible items sit at the top of the list of high antioxidant foods. ORAC scores stands for Oxygen Radical Absorbance Capacity:

Goji Berries:  25,000 ORAC score
Wild Blueberries:  14,000 ORAC score
Dark Chocolate:  21,000 ORAC score
Pecans:  17,000 ORAC score
Artichoke:  9,400 ORAC score

Top 5: High Antioxidant SpiccesAccording to the same system of rating, these superfood spices contain a concentration of antioxidants that blow berries of the water (pay attention to the numbers!):

Clove: 314,446 ORAC score (22x higher than blueberries!)
Cinnamon: 267,537 ORAC score
Oregano: 159,277 ORAC score
Turmeric: 102,700 ORAC score
Cocoa: 80,933 ORAC score

What Does It All Mean?The antioxidant powerhouses aren’t the ones most people think of. It also means that making little tweaks to the foods we already eat can impact our health in a major way. A daily dose of all-the-kale-you-can-eat will help undo some damaging influence of free radicals, but a casual dash of cinnamon across your fave breakfast bowl will do so much more.

So spike your coffee with cloves, toss turmeric into every roasted veggie endeavor, add cinnamon and cocoa to your morning smoothie. Go nuts! Getting more high antioxidant foods is the easiest thing ever.


The Chalkboard Mag and its materials are not intended to treat, diagnose, cure or prevent any disease. 
All material on The Chalkboard Mag is provided for educational purposes only. Always seek the advice of your physician or another qualified healthcare provider for any questions you have regarding a medical condition, and before undertaking any diet, exercise or other health related program. 


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  1. there was just a study, that too much antioxidant actually speed aging and other things that come with it, however, this article also appears to show that simple spices that many of us use daily provide just what we need, everything in balance no cherry picking for most best fad maybe? 🙂

    Elisa | 03.13.2017 | Reply
  2. Elderberry has 14,697 and has a syrup is amazing on pancakes!

    Kate | 03.13.2017 | Reply
  3. Great article but I am curious as to what the serving size is for both the spices and foods: how little or much of a given item do I need to reap the most benefits. Thanks in advance!

    Rosie | 03.14.2017 | Reply
  4. Is the ORAC score per the same volume for the foods as for the spices? Because I’m going to eat a handful of blueberries, and am definitely not going to eat a handful of cinnamon.

    Vanessa | 03.15.2017 | Reply
  5. Yes please. Wud b great if the quantities wud b specified!

    Faiza | 10.01.2017 | Reply
  6. It’s very important with Cinnamon, Clove and Turmeric to not overdo it…too much Cinnamon is toxic in high doses and in high doses is also bad for the kidneys/liver (Ceylon Cinnamon is better than Cassia Cinnamon in this regard), too much Clove can burn the esophagus and be hard on the stomach lining and too much Turmeric is a blood thinner (so extra important to back off a week or 2 before any surgeries) and can exacerbate acid reflux. Turmeric also requires pepper and oil for the beneficial antioxidants to be absorbed into the body. It may be best to use these spices in “spice” quantities and not use as a supplement…a pinch, or an 1/8 t. or per the measurements called for in a recipe.

    Tanya | 11.16.2018 | Reply
  7. Really good point above, Tanya. As a physician I recommend that many patients use supplements (carefully selected–I like ConsumerLab.com and Labdoor.com–they test for purity and contaminants of numerous brands out there), but I also warn lots of patients, especially as those taking blood thinners (e.g., Coumadin or possibly Xarelto) NOT to use hemp/CBD/Medical THC or turmeric because those natural products could interact with their blood thinners (and even some anti platelet medications like Plavix & Aspirin) to cause a dangerous hemorrhage. Also, not to take things in excess, even if ‘natural,’ because our liver and kidneys still have to metabolise them–so have your doctor monitor the function of both organ systems at least yearly. Always good to be informed when adding integrative medicine to our daily regimens.

    wendi | 11.21.2018 | Reply
  8. The name of the article is “5 herbs with antioxidants…” but I only see fruit and spices. Did I miss something?

    Gabby | 11.24.2018 | Reply
  9. Thank you, Wendi, for this additional information. It is very helpful – and important! Best to you : )

    Tanya | 11.27.2018 | Reply


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