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Antioxidants are very important for bodybuilding and exercise in general. They help rid your body of free radicals which are toxins that can cause cell damage. During exercise, a large number of free radicals are created, so getting rid of these is not only important for health reasons, but also for muscle recovery. As many of us may already know, an excellent source of antioxidants is fruits and vegetables. Which fruits and vegetables are a good source of antioxidants? The USDA has developed a measuring system, the oxygen radical absorbance capacity (ORAC), which can help us answer this question. The table below shows the ORAC value of selected fruits and vegetables. These values are based on 100g (or 3 1/2 ounces) of each item, which is quite high for a fruit/vegetable intake in some cases. The higher scores indicate a better source of antioxidants.

The ORAC values of White Grapes, onions, corn, eggplant, cauliflower, frozen peas, white potatoes and sweet potatoes lie between 300 and 500. Cantaloupe, bananas, apples, carrots, tomatoes, zucchini, apricots, peaches, yellow squash, pears and watermelon have ORAC values between 100 and 300. Note that cooking and canning fruits/vegetables reduces their antioxidizing effects; the difference between raw spinach and steamed spinach is quite large, so fresh vegetable salads are a great way to increase the amount of antioxidants in your diet.

The high ORAC values of dried fruits are caused by the fact that they're all dried up and concentrated, so they can be somewhat misleading. On a final note, you must remember that the ORAC is only a guide for antioxidants in fruits and vegetables. You must mix and match them in order to get the proper vitamins and minerals, don't just eat the high valued ones. Just use the ORAC as a guide, you don't have to take the numbers too seriously.

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