Antioxidants: What are they and why are they good for us?

Posted on June 13, 2012 by nichole There have been 0 comments

Why does a cut apple turn brown sitting on the counter?  Oxidation.  Oxidation is the process whereby a substance interacts with oxygen and occurs in all cells including cells in our body.  As oxygen interacts with cells, it may alter the cell, causing 1-2% of the cells to turn into free radicals.  Free radicals may affect the DNA of the cells as well as neighboring cells, leading to a “chain reaction.”  Frequent exposure to free radicals eventually leads to aging and variety of diseases including cancer, heart disease, and Alzheimer’s.

Naturally occurring antioxidants keep small amounts of free radicals in our body under control.    However, large amounts of external toxins such as pesticides, air pollution, and cigarette smoke trigger free radical formation in the body.  In order to combat the effects of these toxins, it is essential to consume a variety of antioxidants in the diet.  Antioxidants can prevent or reduce damage by “neutralizing” and stopping the damaging chain reaction effects of free radicals.  The best way to obtain antioxidants is by eating a healthy diet.  It is best to “mix it up” and eat a variety of multiple servings of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, legumes, and nuts daily.

Vitamins C and E, the mineral selenium, and polyphenols are all antioxidants.  Flavonoids, a type of polyphenol, are the largest group of antioxidants.  There are about 5,000 known flavonoids in plant based foods.  The USDA analyzes the antioxidant value of various fruits, vegetables, nuts, etc. utilizing a method called ORAC (Oxygen Radical Absorbance Capacity). ORAC measures and identifies the antioxidant ability of different foods and chemicals for an easy comparison.  The higher the ORAC value, the greater the potential antioxidant activity. According to the USDA, a person should consume about 3,000 ORAC units per day.

Below is a list of ORAC values of a few ingredients found in nicobella’s yummy products.

Below is a list of ORAC values of a few ingredients found in nicobella’s yummy products.

Food Item    Portion    ORAC Units

Blueberries 1 cup 9019
Dark Chocolate 1 ounce 5903
Pecans 1 ounce 5086
Walnuts 1 ounce 3846
Green Tea 1 cup 3000
Almonds 1 ounce 1265

nicobella strives to incorporate antioxidants into both their truffles and munch!   For example, the maple-nut munch contains dark chocolate and pecans.  The blueberry almond truffle simply contains blueberries, almonds, and dark chocolate as the name implies.  Enjoy sampling these products while gaining antioxidant power.

blueberry almond truffle

Article written by Jennifer Glockner, (soon-to-be) Registered Dietitian who lives in Sherman Oaks, CA and worked with nicobella during her nutrition internship.

Thank you, Jennifer!


This post was posted in chocolate, truffles, antioxidants, munch and was tagged with walnuts, dark chocolate, whole foods, antioxidants, ORAC, blueberries, pecans, almonds, flavonoids, vitamins, minerals