Antioxidants are compounds that deactivate damaging free radicals. Free radicals are highly reactive compounds that cause damage to cells and contribute to the diseases and signs associated with the ageing process. Free radicals are formed naturally in the body through normal metabolism. External sources, which include chemical pollutants, smoke, radiation and over-cooked foods, can increase the body’s exposure to free radicals.
Maintaining a high antioxidant diet may lower a person’s risk for disease, stimulate and protect the immune system and possibly slow the ageing process.
Oxygen Radical Absorbance Capacity (ORAC) is a laboratory test that measures the antioxidant levels in food. The higher the ORAC score, the better a food may be in defending our cells from free radical damage. Antioxidants are found in abundance in fruit and vegetables. However, particular fruits and vegetables, the “superfoods”, have signiﬁcantly higher ORAC values than regular ones.
The table shows a typical “5-a-Day” fruit and vegetable intake, with an ORAC score of 1,790 units. This is compared to the ORAC score of a 30ml serving of the superfood,
CherryActive Concentrate, with a measured ORAC value of 8260 units.
To maintain a high antioxidant diet, therefore, it is important to consider the quality as well as the quantity of fruit and vegetables consumed.
Montmorency cherries are one of the richest sources of powerful compounds called anthocyanins, which provide the distinctive red colour and may hold the key to many of the beneﬁts locked inside. Studies suggest that these health-promoting pigments possess antioxidant, anti-inﬂammatory and anti-carcinogenic properties.
Tart cherries are high in antioxidants for optimum healthAnthocyanins that give Montmorency cherries their deep, rich colour belong to a large group of phenolic compounds called ﬂavonoids. Of the 150 different ﬂavonoids found in plants, anthocyanins appear to have the greatest antioxidant capacity.
Research conducted at Michigan State University found that Montmorency cherries contained the highest concentrations of anthocyanins 1 and 2 – which help block enzymes in the body called cyclooxygenase 1 and 2 (popularly known as COX-1 and COX-2). Some pain medication works by inhibiting COX-1 and COX-2, which may explain why some people ﬁnd that Montmorency cherries help ease the pain of arthritis and gout.
Montmorency cherries contain 30 to 40 milligrams of anthocyanins 1 and 2 in every 100 grams of fruit. Montmorency cherries contain signiﬁcantly more anthocyanins and phenols than sweet cherries. For example, one study found that the total phenolic content of sweet cherries ranged from 92 to 147 milligrams/100 grams, while the same amount of Montmorency cherries contained up to 312 milligrams, or more than twice the phenols.