Antioxidants are real buzz words in nutrition and skincare, but what are they? What do they do & why are they important – in particular to our mental health?

What are Antioxidants?

How I like to explain these is: Antioxidants dilute the exhaust fumes of life! 

They are protective molecules that fight the damage caused by free radicals (pro-oxidants) 


Free radicals are unstable molecules in our bodies that can destroy cells, cause disease, and speed up the aging process.


Free radicals are the by-products of natural body processes such as breathing, digestion, and cellular metabolism. 

Free radicals can literally destroy our bodies at a cellular level, through a process known as oxidative stress. Thankfully anti-oxidants can neutralise their harmful effects – hence why they are crucial to our health! The only upside to free-radicals is that our immune system uses them to kill harmful bacteria  

So where & how are free-radicals produced?

All of the following can increase the production of free radicals in the body which causes oxidative stress

 excessive exercise – yep too much is not good!

 inflammation and injury

 refined and processed foods, trans fats (hydrogenated fats), artificial sweeteners (aspartame),            and certain colourings and additives

 smoking

 environmental pollution

 radiation

 exposure to pesticides 

 industrial solvents

 UV light

This oxidative damage can cause multiple illnesses including heart disease, mental illness, as well as other inflammatory conditions like arthritis & many cancers...

Antioxidants & Mental Health

Increased inflammation & oxidative stress = increased rates of anxiety & depression.

The more antioxidants you have in your diet, the more they can suppress the oxidative pathways which lead to mental health issues. 

Studies have found that patients with anxiety and depression had significantly lower levels of vitamins A, C, and E in comparison to the control group.

In order to be able to absorb antioxidants from your diet, you need to have good gut health i.e. a flourishing microbiome. 

Antioxidant Rich Foods

• Antioxidants are abundant in brightly coloured fruits and vegetables. 

• Many antioxidants have anti-inflammatory properties as well.  

• The best antioxidant-rich foods have the strongest colours, so aim to have yellow, red, blue &              dark green foods every day!

• Eat the rainbow every day – foods act synergistically with each other, so different combinations of vegetable colours can have an additional beneficial effect on your health.

• Antioxidants are measured in ORACS (oxygen radical absorbency capacity) which translates to how good a particular food is at dealing with the ‘exhaust fumes’ of life! 6000 ORACS a day keeps your heart healthy. 

• As well as being heart-healthy, anti-oxidants are also anti-ageing. 

Below is a list of 20 different foods. Each serving contains ca. 2000 ORACS, choose at least 3 of these daily to hit your target.

½ cup blackcurrants

¼ cup pistachios

1 cup cooked kidney beans

½ cup raspberries

8 pecans

1/3 medium avocado

½ cup strawberries

7 walnuts

½ cup red cabbage

1/3 cup of blueberries

½ cup cooked lentils

½ cup cherries

*1 shot of cherry active juice concentrate

2 cups of broccoli florets

1 medium artichoke

8 spears of asparagus 1 orange

1 apple

150ml glass of red wine

4 pieces of dark chocolate (min.70% cocoa)

1 medium artichoke

1/3 tsp of cinnamon(Ceylon) 

½ tsp turmeric


 *One of the simplest & easiest ways to achieve your 6000 daily ORACS is to have a daily shot of Montmorency Cherry concentrate called Cherry Active diluted with water. This is the equivalent of 23 portions of fruit & veg! 



Tomatoes are loaded with antioxidants such as lycopene, vitamin C, and vitamin A. Lycopene is the antioxidant that gives tomatoes their bright red color. When tomatoes are cooked our body can utilise it (more bio-available) 


Bell peppers are rich in many vitamins and antioxidants, especially vitamin C and various carotenoids. For this reason, they can help to fight infection & heal wounds.

Brazil Nuts

Brazil nuts are among the richest food sources of selenium. It is an essential mineral with potent antioxidant properties. 

Selenium is an important player for thyroid hormone metabolism and protection from oxidative damage and infection. 

It is important to note that just a single Brazil nut per day, can provide the daily recommended adult allowance of 55 mcg. 

Don’t eat too many though as too much selenium can be toxic!


Berries such as blackberries, cranberries, raspberries and blueberries are a great source of antioxidants, such as anthocyanins, ellagic acid, and resveratrol. Blueberries, blackberries, and raspberries have the highest antioxidant levels after pomegranates 


Turmeric & Ginger contain both antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties Turmeric’s active property is curcumin which has been used as part of Ayurvedic medicine for thousands of years. 

However, curcumin is notoriously difficult to absorb so it is best to consume with a little black pepper or take a liposomal supplement which has a far higher absorbency rate.