How To Harness The Incredible Power Of Antioxidants In Foods - Save Our Bones

Today we're going to look at oxidation and how it can damage your bones and your health.

Fortunately, there's a simple solution to prevent this harmful process, and it's readily available. That’s because many foods that you probably have in your pantry this very moment are rich sources of powerful antioxidants.

We'll review how antioxidants protect your bones from the ravages of free radicals, and then you'll learn about a food classification system that holds the key to maximizing your antioxidant intake.

Oxidation And Antioxidants

Oxidation is a chemical reaction that involves the movement of electrons. This process can create free radicals, also known as reactive oxygen species (ROS), which are unstable molecules that will steal electrons from other molecules. This electron theft damages cells, causing a variety of health problems that result from tissue damage and the subsequent inflammation it creates.

Fortunately, free radicals can be neutralized by antioxidants.

Antioxidants have the ability to give up an electron to a ROS, stabilizing its atomic structure and without becoming destabilized itself. In doing so, they prevent a free radical from damaging another cell by stripping an electron from it. When a ROS steals an electron from a molecule other than an antioxidant, that molecule can itself become a ROS that steals an electron elsewhere, triggering a chain reaction of destruction. Antioxidants prevent this chain of cellular damage by safely donating a spare electron.


A Reactive Oxygen Species (ROS), also known as a free radical, is an unstable molecule that steals electrons from another molecule to stabilize itself. This forcible theft of an electron can damage a molecule and may turn it into a free radical, leading to a chain of cellular damage. Antioxidants have a spare electron they can donate to a free radical, stabilizing it and preventing a chain of cellular destruction.

How Oxidation Impacts Your Bones

Without enough antioxidants to neutralize the free radicals in your system, the cellular damage that ROS cause builds up, resulting in inflammation and a variety of health problems.

First and foremost for Savers, oxidative stress damages bones. Indeed, in the study titled “Oxidative Stress In Bone Remodeling: Role Of Antioxidants” the authors state that:

“Changes in ROS and/or antioxidant systems seem to be involved in the pathogenesis of bone loss. ROS induce the apoptosis of osteoblasts and osteocytes, and this favours osteoclastogenesis and inhibits the mineralization and osteogenesis. Excessive osteocyte apoptosis correlates with oxidative stress causing an imbalance in favor of osteoclastogenesis which leads to increased turnover of bone remodeling and bone loss.”1

Osteoclastogenesis is part of the process of bone maintenance that removes old and damaged bone. Apoptosis, mentioned above, is cell death. ROS trigger the death of the cells that create new bone: osteoblasts (which generate new bone cells) and osteocytes (which are osteoblasts that have become bone cells).

The negative impact of oxidative stress on the process of bone production couldn't be any more direct.


Free radicals damage bone cells and osteoblasts, the cells that create new bone. Studies have confirmed that oxidative stress increases cell death among osteoblasts, which produce new bone cells. This imbalances the bone remodeling process such that more bone is removed than is created.

Antioxidants In Foods

Fortunately, antioxidants are readily available in foods.

The National Institute on Aging at the National Institute of Health (NIH) developed a unit of measurement for antioxidant content in food called ORAC (Oxygen Radical Absorbance Capacity).2

The research that led to this measurement system was discontinued in 2012, but we still have the data they collected. ORAC values are based on 100 grams of each food tested. That means you should consider each food differently since you are less likely to eat 100 grams of an herb in one sitting than you are of a berry.

Equipped with the knowledge of which foods are high in antioxidants you can eat a variety of those foods throughout your day. They'll add up! And unsurprisingly, many of the foods with high ORAC values are Foundation Foods. The higher the ORAC number, the more antioxidant power the food has.

These are the ORAC scores of common herbs and spices. Even though you don't eat much of each herb at a time, their high concentration of antioxidants means they pack a punch.

  • Cloves: 314,446 ORAC score
  • Cinnamon: 267,537 ORAC score
  • Oregano: 159,277 ORAC score
  • Turmeric: 102,700 ORAC score
  • Cumin: 76,800 ORAC score
  • Parsley* (dried): 74,349 ORAC score
  • Basil: 67,553 ORAC score
  • Ginger: 28,811 ORAC score
  • Thyme: 27,426 ORAC score
  • Cilantro: 5,141 ORAC score

*Foundation Foods


The National Health Institute developed a measurement system for the concentration of antioxidants in foods called ORAC (Oxygen Radical Absorbance Capacity). This research provides us with clear data about which foods provide the most antioxidants.

What This Means To You

You have the power to increase your antioxidant levels and prevent the damage that free radicals can cause to your body and your bones. Even better, the way to get those antioxidants is by consuming a wide variety of delicious foods!

If you'd like more ideas about how to incorporate antioxidant-rich foods into your meals, check out Bone Appétit, the Save Institute's cookbook and meal planner. When you follow a pH-balanced diet, it's easy to eat foods with high ORAC values every day.




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27 comments. Leave Yours Now →
  1. Mary McGinnis

    Please Vivian I accidentally lost your last email about TTP. Would you please resend this for me. It is important to me.

  2. Sonia

    Could you please also comment on the presence of heavy metals in some of these foods that are great antioxidants? It seems that many brands of dark chocolates contain them for instance. Just trying to control consumption of those metals as well. Thanks.

  3. Jessica

    Thank you… 💚 🤗

    • Vivian Goldschmidt, MA

      You’re welcome!

  4. Karen

    Is there a list of common foods that are alkaline and foods there acidic so I can put on my frig?

    • Vivian Goldschmidt, MA

      Karen, the list of alkalizing and acidifying foods is in the ORP and in Bone Appetit in printable format. And you can also find it online.

  5. Shamse

    Thank you so much Vivian

    • Vivian Goldschmidt, MA

      My pleasure, Shamse!

  6. Shamse

    This is a very powerful and knowledgeable article. I like and use most of the high score ORAC items every day. How much should we eat per day and per serving? Is there any restrictions for use, eg, fry,cook or bake? I make brittle with dark chocolate+cocoa
    +pecans. It’s so delicious, I can’t stop eating 😋. I chew 2/3 cloves/day.
    Is this too much?

    • Vivian Goldschmidt, MA

      Don’t worry about exact measurements, Shamse. Simply focus (as you are) on the high ORAC foods and enjoy! 🙂

  7. Greg Hill

    I kept hearing about how good cloves are for your health, but how on earth would one make them a regular part of one’s diet? Then I had a bright idea. I buy whole organic peppercorns and whole organic cloves, mix them in about a 5 to 1 ratio (mostly peppercorns), grind them in a spice grinder and put it in my pepper shaker to use just as I would regular pepper. I use quite a bit of pepper (especially combined with turmeric) so that probably works out to something like half a clove or more every day, 365 days a year. With a whopping ORAC score of 314,446 I guess that that works out to a significant amount of antioxidants in just a half a clove per day ≈180 cloves per year, probably more than I get from any other single source except organic Ceylon cinnamon.

    • Vivian Goldschmidt, MA

      Thanks for sharing this with our community, Greg!

  8. Jenny

    Vivian, I’m keen to develop my own recipes for pH balanced meals and I am exploring the PRAL (potential renal acid load) of foods to do this. But some foods, like quinoa, seem to be acidifying according to this but you include them in alkalising recipes. Do you use another way to calculate which foods are acidifying and which are alkalising?

    • Vivian Goldschmidt, MA

      Jenny, based on quinoa’s PRAL values (-0.2), it is mildly alkalizing. A negative PRAL means the food is alkalizing, and a positive PRAL means it’s acidifying. For example, the PRAL value of brown rice is +7.5 and for raw asparagus, it’s -1.9.

  9. Kathy

    The sad thing is quite a number of people have a salycilate intolerance and every item in the list are foods that we avoid. For me, salycilates trigger migraine and so my diet is limited. I was diagnosed with osteoporosis 4 years ago with quite bad results but I started supplements plus dietary changes and amazingly, my last test showed I’m 5% above average for my age and I don’t have osteoporosis. I’m so glad I didn’t take Prolia etc that Doctors were pushing on me. I’ve been a tea drinker all my life ( in moderation ) and I’m sure tea has lots of benefits, especially an antioxidant and I’ve often read it protects teeth from decay.

    • Vivian Goldschmidt, MA

      Congratulations on beating osteoporosis without taking drugs, Kathy! It must be quite a challenge because of your food intolerances, but you did it!

  10. Lyn Furlong

    What is the best calcium supplement for bones. Thanks

  11. G. Maddaloni

    A lot of juices come from Concentrate which is really a mismatch!!! G

  12. Sharon Anderson

    Most of these foods are high in oxalates. I used to eat many of them. If a person has had kidney stones, they are off the list. Are there any foods that are rich in antioxidants that are low in oxalates?

    • Vivian Goldschmidt, MA

      Sharon, if you’re on a low oxalate diet because of kidney issues, I suggest you follow it and keep in mind that even if some foods contain oxalates, the serving size and method of preparation makes a difference. For example, even though tomato sauce is high in oxalates, a whole medium tomato contains only 7 mg and is a good source of the antioxidant lycopene. You can also take antioxidant supplements. On the other hand, watermelon also contains lycopene and practically no oxalates. I also suggest you search here for the foods highest in bone-healthy antioxidants and see if they are permissible in your diet. Stay healthy and strong!

  13. Lyda

    Thank you so much for helping so many. I am 69 years old and I did the bone density last year and I have beginning of osteosporosis and I am taking Bone Restore with K2 from Life Extension. I use most of the things that you mention above. I cook my meals and try to eat healthy. What is your advice?
    Thank you

    • Save Institute Customer Support

      Lyda, we’re glad to send you a reply via email, so please check your inbox within the next 24 to 48 hours 🙂

  14. Ita

    Thank you, Ita.

    • Vivian Goldschmidt, MA

      You’re very welcome, Ita!

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