When most people think about antioxidants, what typically comes to mind are vegetables like kale or broccoli or fruits such as blueberries. And it is certainly true that these kinds of foods are antioxidant-rich and bring with them a variety of other benefits to improve and maintain overall health.
However, what many people are not aware of is the fact that oregano — a common herb for many Italian dishes and native to the Mediterranean basin — is also incredibly rich in antioxidants. These active compounds are important because they have been shown to slow the aging process, reduce oxidative stress to tissues throughout the body, and even reduce the risk of developing serious conditions like cancer. Read on to find out more about this herb’s amazing antioxidant powers.
Oregano and the ORAC Scale.
When measured on the Oxygen Radical Absorbance Capacity (ORAC) Scale, a measurement of the antioxidant properties of a given fruit, vegetable or herb, oregano scores in the top five for antioxidant capacity among other herbs and spices. Its concentrations of around 75mmol per 100mg make oregano one of the strongest antioxidant herbs on the planet.
If looked at per gram of weight, oregano compares favorably with many of the healthiest fruits and vegetables. Its antioxidant activity is four times that of blueberries, twelve times that of potatoes and forty-two times that of apples.
Oregano’s Active Compounds
Of course, oregano’s amazing antioxidant capacity comes from an array of bioactive compounds.
Most of its antioxidants, for instance, are phytonutrients. This plant-based chemicals have a proven capacity to bring many health benefits to the body, including helping to guard the cells against free radical damage and reducing cancer risk.
Another important bioactive compound in oregano is known as carvacol, which has long been studied by scientists due to its known antimicrobial properties. It is because of carvacol that oregano has gained the reputation of being such a powerful natural antibiotic. It has even been known to help treat resistant bacterial strains like MRSA. In one study, in fact, essential oil of oregano was shown to effective kill off MRSA cells at a dilution of 1 to 1,000.
Uses of Oregano Oil
The antioxidant, anti-inflammatory and antimicrobial powers of oregano are harnessed in its essential oil, which had been used for a variety of health benefits, from improved digestion to a reduction in cancer risk. The essential oil, like its parent plant, has proven effective as an anti-microbial and has even replaced bleach in some natural homes as a means of cleansing and sanitation. Some believe that this essential oil, with more research and development, could well hold the solution to the problem of bacterial strains which have grown to resistant conventional antibiotics.
In short, the antioxidant and ant-microbial power of this essential oil is nothing less than amazing. Not only is its antioxidant activity much higher than even many healthy fruits and vegetables, its antimicrobial properties also make oregano one of the healthiest herbs on the planet.
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