Oxygen is used abundantly during exercise, especially prolonged endurance sport. The body uses it to release energy from metabolic fuels such as fat and glucose, to drive power muscle energy. However as your body uses more oxygen during prolonged exercise it produces more free radicals. These can contribute to muscle fatigue and muscle damage, as well as inflammation which can prevent sufficient recovery for resuming exercise the next day.
Antioxidants, which are compounds found in food, are excellent at neutralising free radicals and repairing the damage they have already done to your body. Think of antioxidants as the scavengers of your body. Antioxidants are plentiful in a diet high in fresh fruit and vegetables. Nutrients which contain antioxidants include vitamins C and E and selenium. Some other nutrients which might act as antioxidants include carotenoids such as beta-carotene, isoflavones and flavonoids such as in red wine and tea.
Oxygen Radical Absorption Capacity (ORAC) measures the antioxidant effect of food (or more specifically the oxidation of free radicals in response to the food compounds). It’s a widely recognised measure globally.
Below is a table listing the foods highest in antioxidant properties, or ORAC