Herbs and spices are an excellent source of antioxidants. It’s important to consume antioxidants as they help to reduce the effects of oxidative stress on the body.
In this article, we’ll review a list of herbs high in antioxidants as well as the health benefits of antioxidants.
Table of Contents
- Antioxidant Overview:
- Herbs High in Antioxidants:
- Health Benefits of Antioxidants:
- How Many Antioxidants Should I Consume Per Day?
Antioxidants are important molecules that neutralize free radicals in the body. Free radicals are unstable cells which are created when we experience harmful external factors, like pollution and damaging sun rays.
Free radicals cause oxidative stress, which is linked to numerous health conditions, like Alzheimer’s disease, heart disease, cancer, depression, multiple sclerosis, and memory loss.
The National Institute of Health and Aging (NIH) created a method called the ORAC (Oxygen Radical Absorbance Capacity) score to measure the total antioxidant capacity of foods.
Scientists and health experts note that 3,000-5,000 ORAC units per day is ideal for health and wellness.
Since antioxidant absorption varies, it’s essential to include a diverse diet of antioxidant rich foods such as fruits, vegetables, and herbs in your daily diet.
Herbs High in Antioxidants:
Below is a list of antioxidant rich herbs. Add these to your diet to improve your daily antioxidant intake.
1. Clove (Syzygium aromaticum)
Clove is an herb known for its spicy, sweet aroma and is considered one of the highest natural sources of antioxidants.
Native to the island of Indonesia, the clove tree has been used as a traditional herbal medicine for centuries. The immature flower bud has been used medicinally and as a culinary spice.
Clove is considered a circulatory stimulant, warming the body and encouraging blood flow. It is also highly revered for its antimicrobial, digestive, pain-relieving, and anti-inflammatory properties. It is commonly found in the kitchen, where it is used as a spice for various dishes, including pudding, pies, chai, mulled red wine, and red meat.
1 teaspoon of ground clove is estimated to contain an ORAC value of 11,611 µmol. Ingesting 1 teaspoon of clove in a dish or consumed as tea would satisfy your daily antioxidant requirement.
Summary:Clove is an antioxidant rich food that also shows antimicrobial, digestive, pain-relieving, and anti-inflammatory benefits.
2. Oregano (Origanum vulgare)
Oregano is a popular antioxidant rich herb and spice in the Lamiaceae, or mint, family. It can be consumed dried or fresh and is used in many cuisines, especially Mediterranean dishes.
While oregano is commonly used in the kitchen, it is considered a highly-supportive therapeutic herb. Oregano has traditional and modern usage as a digestive aid and stimulant and is known for its ability to support lung health and reduce inflammation.
Studies have concluded that oregano is also helpful for preserving food due to its high antioxidant content. Along with the dried and fresh herb, oregano essential oil is used frequently for its antimicrobial activity.
It is estimated that 1 teaspoon of dried oregano contains an ORAC value of 7,011.
Dried oregano can be used in culinary dishes or enjoyed as a tea or tincture.
Summary:Oregano’s antioxidant content makes this herb useful for reducing free radicals while providing digestion, respiratory, inflammatory, and antimicrobial support.
3. Rosemary (Salvia rosmarinus)
Hardy rosemary is an herb native to the Mediterranean regions and naturalized globally. It also belongs to the Lamiaceae family and has a strong herbaceous and slightly woody aroma.
Rosemary is highly-revered for its cognitive-enhancing properties and is also known for its ability to improve mood and reduce stress, anxiety, and depression.
As an antioxidant rich food, rosemary is often used in the kitchen for various dishes. Research also shows that it has potential as a food preserver.
The leaves are used topically or internally, and rosemary essential oils is frequently used for aromatherapy.
It’s estimated that 1 teaspoon of rosemary contains an ORAC value of 6,611.
You can enjoy rosemary as a spice, tea, tincture, or even apply it as a hair rinse.
Summary:Beyond being an antioxidant rich herb, rosemary has been found to improve cognitive function, mood, stress, and anxiety.
4. Cinnamon (Cinnamomum verum)
This spicy, aromatic herb comes from the bark of the cinnamon tree. It is a popular addition to food and hot beverages and has been used therapeutically for thousands of years.
Cinnamon is considered highly beneficial due to its antimicrobial and antioxidant properties. It is frequently applied topically as a salve to reduce pain and may help lower blood sugar.
Popular types of cinnamon include Chinese cinnamon (Cassia cinnamon), Saigon cinnamon (Cinnamomum loureiroi), and Ceylon cinnamon (Cinnamomum verum).
It’s estimated that 1 teaspoon of cinnamon contains an ORAC value of 5,257.
Ground cinnamon and cinnamon sticks are great in warm beverages and desserts, and can be taken as tea or tincture.
Summary:Cinnamon’s antioxidant content may help lower free radicals while also possessing antimicrobial, pain-reducing, and blood sugar-lowering effects.
5. Turmeric (Curcuma longa)
Known for its widespread use in Indian cuisine, turmeric is more than just a kitchen spice. This herbal antioxidant is an orange-yellow rhizome that can be consumed fresh or dried.
It has historically been used as a medicinal herb, culinary spice, and cosmetic ingredient. Its rich color creates a beautiful yellow dye for textiles.
Traditionally and contemporarily, turmeric has been therapeutically used to reduce inflammation, stabilize blood sugar, protect the heart, and reduce allergies.
1 teaspoon of turmeric is estimated to contain an ORAC value of 5,083.
Turmeric is best consumed in curry, as a delicious beverage called Golden Milk, or as a capsule supplement.
Summary:Turmeric works to benefit inflammation, blood sugar levels, allergies, and cardiovascular health alongside its antioxidant effects.
6. Peppermint (Mentha x piperita)
Invigorating and fresh, peppermint is one of the best herbs with a high antioxidant content and is frequently used as a flavoring for oral products. A member of the Lamiaceae family, this herb contains numerous health benefits and is a great addition to recipes.
Peppermint is known for its ability to warm the body and stimulate circulation while also imparting a cooling sensation. It is rich in numerous vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants, including vitamins A and C, calcium, iron, potassium, sodium, and selenium.
Therapeutically, peppermint is used to support digestion, release tension, and reduce pain. It is also known for its antimicrobial activities.
It’s estimated that 1 teaspoon of peppermint contains an ORAC score of 559.
Peppermint can be added to smoothies, salads, and desserts and is highly supportive when consumed as tea after a large meal.
Summary:Peppermint is an antioxidant rich herb that has also been found to stimulate circulation, support digestion, release tension, and lower pain.
Health Benefits of Antioxidants:
Antioxidants are naturally-occurring molecules that are found throughout nature. They are essential in preventing damage caused by free radical molecules. Sources of antioxidants include water, soil, plants, and animals.
These molecules take many forms, including vitamins E and C, selenium, zinc, manganese, glutathione, carotenoids, coenzyme Q10, lipoic acid, flavonoids, phenols, polyphenols, phytoestrogens, and many more. Humans usually ingest them through eating fruits, vegetables, and herbs with a high antioxidant content.
Some of the best sources of antioxidants include berries, carrots, peppers, leafy greens, seafood, and many antioxidant rich herbs.
Antioxidants, like vitamin C, are not fat soluble, meaning your body can’t store them for later. So it’s crucial to replenish stores daily.
Antioxidants are responsible for neutralizing free radicals that cause oxidative stress and long-term health issues. Since free radicals have an unstable amount of electrons, they steal electrons from other cellular molecules, damaging the cell in the process. Antioxidants give the free radicals one of their own electrons, turning off the chain of destruction and reducing the likelihood of oxidative-stress-related complications.
Research demonstrates that the body can effectively metabolize and use 3,000-5,000 ORAC units per day.
Although the body can store various antioxidants in the body for future use, due to the constant excretion of molecules, it’s important to maintain a steady supply of antioxidants to manage oxidative stress.
How Many Antioxidants Should I Consume Per Day?
There is no daily antioxidant requirement per day; however, it’s essential to ingest antioxidant-rich sources to counter oxidation in the body.
Below is a helpful chart.
|Age Group||RDA (ORAC units (µmol) /day)|
|Men (2,500 calories/day)||11,000 units|
|Women (1,800 calories/day)||8,000 units|
It is important to note that these are the recommended daily allowances, which are the minimum amount of a nutrient a person needs to avoid future complications. Some individuals may need more or less depending on their needs and health conditions.
Supplementing with antioxidant rich foods, especially herbs, supports various processes in the body and may prevent serious health problems like heart conditions, degenerative brain diseases, mood disorders, and cancer.
Although the body doesn’t require a specified amount of antioxidants, adequate antioxidant levels are vital to avoid inevitable oxidative stress. While dietary supplements are sufficient and available, it’s best to receive antioxidants from natural sources.
Do you have favorite herbal antioxidant? Let us know!
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