Oxidative stress, an issue that concerns humans and pets alike, is caused by an imbalance between pro-oxidant (free radicals) and antioxidant molecules. Oxidative stress can occur during physiological situations such as growth and intense physical activity. This process is involved in aging but is also linked to the pathogenesis and development of many diseases, including: obesity, central nervous system disease, urinary tract disorders, kidney diseases and others.

Understanding free radicals can help you choose the right food and provide the best care for your pet. Free radicals are a by-product of energy production within the body. A dog’s body, like humans, can normally handle free radicals, but if the number of free radicals becomes excessive or if sufficient antioxidants are not available to help, these free radicals can have detrimental effects on your pet's health.

What are Free Radicals? Free radicals are highly reactive, oxygen-containing molecules that can damage cell membranes, enzymes and even DNA. Your dog's nervous and immune systems are especially vulnerable. Scientific evidence suggests that over-production of reactive oxygen species (ROS), or free radicals, may be the root cause of premature ageing and chronic diseases such as cancer, cardiovascular diseases, neurodegeneration, and ageing. (1,2)

What are Antioxidants? Antioxidants neutralize these reactive oxygen containing molecules. Antioxidants for your dogs and cats are nutrients within food that help protect the body from damage caused by free radicals. They are key when it comes to keeping your pet healthy. Common antioxidants include vitamins C and E. An abundance of antioxidants of different types are found in colourful fruits and vegetables. The right combination of antioxidants in your dog’s dog food can help make a significant difference to their health. (3, 4, 5, 6, 7)

The ORAC unit (Oxygen Radical Absorbance Capacity), is a method developed by scientists at the National Institute of Health and Aging (NIH) to measure the antioxidant capacity of different foods. Whilst the exact relationship between the ORAC value of a food and its health benefit has not been fully established, it is generally believed that foods with higher ORAC scores have greater antioxidant capacity, and more effectively neutralise harmful free radicals.

Scientists and researchers in the ORAC and antioxidants sector, state that the average human diet consists of 3000-5000 antioxidant or ORAC units per day and this should be increased to 12,000/day. In dog terms, depending on the weight of your dog, their diet should consist of approximately 800 – 2,000 ORAC units per day.

Navindra P. Seeram, Ph.D., a Professor in the Department of Biomedical and Pharmaceutical Sciences at University of Rhode Island summarises it well. “In my opinion, the smartest recommendation is to continue to eat a wide variety of whole plant foods. How else will you get the triple whammy of macronutrients, micronutrients, and phytonutrients?”

Bonza includes PhytoPlus®, a scientifically formulated blend of antioxidant ingredients and polyphenols all believed to provide differing activities in support of a reduction in oxidative stress and damage and optimum health and longevity for your dog.

See table for ORAC value of Bonza plant-based food

Bonza Ingredients ORAC ((Oxygen Radical Absorbance Capacity) Values

Chickpeas:  ORAC Value 847

Chickpeas share several notable antioxidants that are found in coffee beans and in some other plants. Potent phytonutrients such as caffeic acid, chlorogenic acid, kaempferol, and quercetin are present in significant amounts. These qualities, synergistically, produce measurable effects for those who eat them regularly, and may help protect against inflammation and oxidative stress. (1)

Peas: ORAC Value 741

Green peas offer a myriad of potent antioxidants. One of its powerful antioxidants includes coumestrol, a polyphenol that may lower your risk of stomach cancer.   They contain healthy saponins, which may interfere with the reabsorption of cholesterol in the digestive tract and enable better heart health. These saponins may also prevent the growth of cancer cells.

Phenolic acids and flavanols in the green peas provide additional antioxidant and anti-inflammatory support. (1, 2, 3, 4)

Fava Beans: ORAC Value 1090

Fava beans have a high antioxidant activity because of their high contents of l-DOPA and various kaempferol glycosides, which means they could be useful in the diet as an attractive and palatable source of antioxidants to help maintain health. Recent studies have shown fava beans contain a total of 104 phenolics, mainly flavonoids, many of which are known to have anti-oxidative effects (1, 2)

Oats: ORAC Value 1708

Oats are a source of many compounds that exhibit antioxidant activity. Vitamin E (tocols), phytic acid, phenolic compounds, and avenanthramides are the most abundant antioxidants in oats and flavonoids and sterols are also present. Oats contain more than 20 unique polyphenols, avenanthramides, which have shown strong antioxidant activity in vitro and in vivo. 

Oats also contain ergothioneine and glutathione both of which have shown potent free radical scavenging, antioxidant properties (1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6)

Quinoa: ORAC Value 3200

Quinoa provides a higher level of antioxidants than other common grains used in a gluten-free diet. Most gluten-free products consist of corn, rice, or potato flour and lack the nutrients that products incorporating quinoa can provide.

Quinoa presents at least 23 phenolic compounds. The most abundant phenols are ferulic acid and quercetin. Quinoa contains more phenols than whole cereals, including wheat, barley, millet, rice and buckwheat.  It contains the isoflavones daidzein and genistein; these hormones could be recognized by oestrogen receptors and act as antagonists of vessel contraction and reduce arterial resistance.

Quinoa also contain antioxidant carotenoids.

Researchers at Columbia University's Celiac Disease Center found that the nutritional content of gluten-free diets was significantly improved by adding oats or quinoa to a diet.  There are new studies emerging on a regular basis confirming the health benefits of adequate whole grain intake and their antioxidant capacity.  (1, 2, 3, 4)

Potatoes: ORAC Value 1058

Often maligned as nothing more than starchy carbohydrates, potatoes contain a complex mix of potent phytonutrients.

They contain sizeable amounts of vitamin C and potassium, the two phytonutrients for which they may be best known. Potatoes also contain important amounts of other phytonutrients, including carotenoids, flavonoids, caffeic and chlorogenic acid as well as phenylpropanoids and B vitamins, and are one of the primary suppliers of polyphenols to the diet.

Sweet Potatoes: ORAC Value 2115

Sweet potatoes are regarded as one of the most nutritious vegetable crops.  They are known to be an excellent source of antioxidant vitamins including vitamin A (orange-flesh types), vitamin C and vitamin E.  They also contain polyphenols, particularly phenolic acids including chlorogenic acid, caffeic acid and Di caffeoylquinic acids and are a rich source of beta-carotene.

These vitamins and acids have been shown in studies to provide important antioxidative functions within the body by scavenging free radicals and helping to prevent chronic disease.

Importantly research indicates that the antioxidant levels of sweet potato are enhanced within the gut making them more effective when digested. (1, 2, 3, 4, 5)

Nutritional Yeast

Nutritional yeast, often called ‘Nooch’, is the same species of yeast (Saccharomyces cerevisiae) used to make kombucha. It is just a different end product.  It contains the potent antioxidants glutathione and selenomethionine, both of which can help protect your dog’s body from chronic diseases, including heart disease, cancer and macular degeneration, caused by oxidative stress. (10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15)

Glutathione plays an important role in cellular defence mechanisms.  According to Mark Hyman MD,  Director of the Cleveland Clinic Center for Functional Medicine, nutritional yeast is the ‘Mother of all antioxidants’. (16)

Nutritional yeast contains around 2.5 mg of glutathione per gram — which is a very concentrated amount.

Nutritional yeast has many other benefits including antibacterial and antiviral properties.  Nutritional yeast is the fourth most prescribed natural mono-preparation in Germany - behind Ginkgo, St. John’s Wort, and Horse Chestnut.) (17)  It contains certain carbohydrates — including trehalose and beta glucans — that can fight infection and support immune function. (18, 19)

Rapeseed Oil: ORAC Value 460

Rapeseed oil provides a rich source of Vitamin E.

A process of oxidation and accelerated aging takes place in your body when cells are exposed to molecules called free radicals. Free radicals weaken and break down healthy cells. These molecules may also contribute to heart disease and cancer.

Free radicals form as a result of normal body processes. They cause damage that shortens the life of your cells. Vitamin E is a powerful antioxidant that may help reduce free radical damage and slow the aging process of your cells, according to the National Institutes of Health (NIH). (1, 2, 3, 4)

Seaweed (Algae) and Seaweed (Algal) Extract: ORAC Value 1545

Seaweed contains a wide range of potent antioxidants, such as vitamins A, C and E, carotenoids and flavonoids. Fucoxanthin, the main carotenoid found in brown seaweed, has 13.5 times the antioxidant capacity as vitamin E.   Fucoxanthin has also been shown to protect cell membranes better than vitamin A.

Seaweed continues to be extensively researched for its antioxidant health benefits. (1, 2, 3, 4, 5)

Carrots: ORAC Value 697

All varieties of carrots contain valuable amounts of antioxidant nutrients.   Included in this category of nutrients are traditional antioxidants like vitamin C, as well as phytonutrient antioxidants like beta-carotene. Beta-carotene is by far the most plentiful antioxidant nutrient, accounting for over 95% of all carotenoids in many carrot varieties.

Other carotenoids typically present in carrots include alpha-carotene and lutein. 

Carrots have demonstrated excellent health-giving benefits in studies undertaken. (1, 2)

Pineapple: ORAC Value 697

Pineapple contains a decent level of Vitamin C.  A powerful antioxidant, vitamin C supports the formation of collagen in bones, blood vessels, cartilage and muscle, as well as the absorption of iron.

Vitamin C also retards the development of urinary tract infections during pregnancy and reduces the risk of certain cancers, including colon, oesophagus and stomach. (1, 2)

Pumpkin: ORAC Value 483

Pumpkins contain antioxidants, such as alpha-carotene, beta-carotene and beta-cryptoxanthin. These can neutralize free radicals, stopping them from damaging your dog’s cells.

Test-tube and animal studies have shown that these antioxidants protect skin against sun damage and lower the risk of cancer, eye diseases and other conditions (4, 5, 6, 7)

Papaya: ORAC Value 300

Antioxidants, including the carotenoids found in papayas, can neutralize free radicals.

Papaya has powerful antioxidant effects, which may reduce oxidative stress and lower your risk of several diseases. The reduction in oxidative stress is attributed to papaya's lycopene content and ability to remove excess iron, which is known to produce free radicals (4, 5, 12, 13)

Spinach: ORAC Value 1513

Spinach contains many antioxidant plant compounds that support improved health. These include lutein, kaempferol, nitrates, quercetin and zeaxanthin which are linked to improved eye health and heart health, chronic disease and cancer reduction as well as being anti-inflammatory.

Spinach has been shown to reduce oxidative stress. The antioxidants found in spinach may help fight aging and reduce the risk of diabetes. (4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14)

Kale: ORAC Value 1773

Powerful antioxidants are found in kale, including quercetin and kaempferol, which have numerous beneficial effects on health including powerful heart-protective, blood pressure-lowering, anti-inflammatory, anti-viral, anti-depressant and anti-cancer effects, to name a few.

Kale Is an excellent source of Vitamin C, an antioxidant that has many important roles in the body.  For example, it is necessary for the synthesis of collagen, the most abundant structural protein in the body.

Kale also contains antioxidant substances sulforaphane and indole-3-carbino, that have been shown to help fight cancer in test-tube and animal studies.   It Is Very High in Beta-Carotene, an antioxidant that the body can turn into vitamin A. (6, 7, 8, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19, 20, 21, 22, 23)

Olive Oil Extract: ORAC Value 372

Olive oil is loaded with antioxidants, some of which have powerful biological effects that may reduce your dog’s risk of chronic diseases.

Vitamin E (alpha-tocopherol), carotenoids and phenolic compounds (simple phenols such as hydroxytyrosol and complex phenols such as oleuropein) are all antioxidants whose activity has been demonstrated in vitro and recently in vivo, revealing further advantages in the prevention of certain chronic diseases and also of ageing. (6, 7, 8, 9)

Baobab: ORAC Value 140,000

Baobab has been hailed as "the vitamin tree" by National Geographic and is one of Bonza’s superfood star ingredients.  Among the best health benefits of baobab powder are its powerful antioxidants — more, in fact, than any other whole fruit; gram per gram, it has twice the antioxidants of goji berries and more than blueberries and pomegranates combined.

Baobab contains 6 x the Vitamin C of oranges and has one of the highest ORAC values of any food stuff.

Studies show that baobab may help reduce inflammation and prevent oxidative damage to cells. In vitro studies also show that baobab fruit extracts interfere with starch degradation and reduce sugar release from starch-rich food making it important in the field of diabetes treatment (11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16)

Turmeric: ORAC Value 127,068

Turmeric - The Natural Antioxidant

In contrast to synthetic antioxidant supplements, the chemical structure of curcumin neutralises free radicals and at the same time, increases antioxidant enzymes. This two-sided attack on free radicals makes turmeric and curcumin a double threat to oxidative damage.  What this means is that when toxic exposure is too high to allow our bodies to fight free radicals, turmeric can provide additional support.  Turmeric is also able to prevent the development of free radicals by blocking the oxidizing capabilities of metals.

Turmeric is 5 to 8 times stronger antioxidant than vitamin E and ten times stronger than vitamin C. Turmeric is also more powerful than natural sources such as grapes seed, eugenol (from cloves), and capsaicin (from cayenne). (1, 2, 3, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19)

Cranberry: ORAC Value 9090

Cranberries possess high levels of bioactive plant compounds and antioxidants, particularly flavonol polyphenols - some of these, such as the A-type proanthocyanidins, may be useful as a prevention against urinary tract infections.

Other antioxidant compounds found in cranberries include Quercetin, Myricetin, Peonidin and Ursolic acid which have powerful antioxidative and anti-inflammatory effects.  (3, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15)

Oregano: ORAC Value 175,295

Oregano is an outstanding health-promoting herb, high in antioxidants, that has been used for thousands of years.   Two of the most important components of oregano are rosmarinic acid and thymol, both of which are powerful antioxidant compounds that can help support a healthy immune system and reduce the likelihood of chronic disease caused by oxidative damage to the cells.

Oregano has another powerful compound, carvacrol, which can help with healthy microbial balance, and acts as a major phenol antioxidant. (2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 10, 11)

Basil: ORAC Value 61,063

Basil is a natural source of antioxidants and nutraceuticals.  Many medicinal plants are rich with large amounts of antioxidants other than vitamin C, vitamin E, and carotenoids. Basil come with loads of health benefits as it is a rich source of key antioxidants Vitamin A, Vitamin C and beta carotene.

Basil contains high levels of phenolic acids, flavonoids and anthocyanins, that all contribute to its strong antioxidant capacity.

Rosmarinic acid, the main active component found in basil, has been proven to have medicinal value, and its superior antioxidant activity with vitamin E. (1, 2, 3, 4, 5)

Parsley: ORAC Value 73,670

While it has been cultivated for more than 2,000 years, parsley was used medicinally prior to being consumed as a food.

The flavonoids in parsley, especially luteolin but also apigenin, quercetin, lycopene and kaempferol, have been shown to function as antioxidants that combine with highly reactive oxygen-containing molecules (called oxygen radicals) and help prevent oxygen-based damage to cells. In addition, extracts from parsley have been used in animal studies to help increase the antioxidant capacity of the blood.

Parsley also contains Carnosol, a powerful antioxidant.

In addition to its flavonoids, parsley is an excellent source of vitamin C and a good source of vitamin A (notably through its concentration of the pro-vitamin A carotenoid, beta-carotene) both of which are known to reduce the likelihood of oxidative damage caused by free radicals within the body. (1, 2, 3)

Sage: ORAC Value 119,929

Sage has been used medicinally in Traditional Chinese Medicine and Ayurvedic Medicine for thousands of years.

Like rosemary, another member of the mint family, sage contains a variety of antioxidants — in the form of volatile oils, flavonoids and phenolic acids.  It contains over 160 distinct polyphenols that are linked to impressive health benefits such as a lower risk of cancer and improved brain function and memory.

Sage also contains several antioxidant enzymes, including superoxide dismutase (SOD) and peroxidase. Combined, these components of sage give it a unique capacity for providing potent antioxidative health benefits.  (1, 2, 3, 4, 5)

Chamomile: ORAC Value 218,600

Considered to be one of the most ancient and versatile medicinal herbs known to mankind, dried chamomile flowers have numerous, widespread health implications thanks to their high level of disease-fighting antioxidants like terpenoids and flavonoids.  Its flavonoids include apigenin, luteolin, patuletin, and quercetin.

These compounds lower inflammation by fighting free radical damage and preventing cell mutation. Chamomile benefits start with antioxidants that are associated with better immune function; lower rates of mood disorders; reduced pain and swelling; and healthier skin, hair, nails, teeth and eyes.   (1, 2, 3, 4)

Ginger: ORAC Value 39,041

Ginger is one of the very few "superfoods" worthy of the name.  The history of Ginger goes back over 5000 years when the Indians and ancient Chinese considered it a tonic root for all ailments. 

The health-promoting perspective of ginger is attributed to its rich phytochemistry. Its functional ingredients like gingerols, shogaol, and paradols are the ingredients which provide its powerful antioxidative properties which have been shown to be powerful enough to be anti-cancerous.  Animal modelling showed that ginger significantly lowered induced lipid peroxidation and raised the levels of antioxidant enzymes, together with serum glutathione.

Ginger has a very high concentration of antioxidants at 3.85 mmol/100 g making it a powerful medicinal tool in preventing oxidative damage to cells and resulting disease. (1, 2, 3, 4)  

Yucca Extract

Yucca is a rich source of polyphenolics, including resveratrol and a number of other unique stilbenes, yuccaols.  These powerful phenols have been shown to provide antioxidant health benefits.

A 2013 study found significant decreases in damage from oxidative stress in mice that were given yucca supplements. The researchers found that the yucca had a protective effect against the degeneration of multiple organs. (1, 2, 3)

Reishi Mushroom: ORAC Value 9,244

The Reishi mushroom, also known as Ganoderma lucidum and Lingzhi, is a fungus that grows in various hot and humid locations in Asia and has been used medicinally for millennia in Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) as well as other Eastern medicine.

It has been reported that Reishi,  “the mushroom of immortality”, yields miraculous health benefits and contains over 400 bioactive compounds, including triterpenoids, polysaccharides, nucleotides, sterols, steroids, fatty acids and proteins/peptides, which have a number of medicinal effects [6,7].

These include anti-tumour [8,9], anti-microbial [10], anti-atherosclerotic [11], anti-inflammatory, hypolipidemic [12], anti-diabetic, anti-oxidative and radical-scavenging, anti-aging [13], anti-fungal, and anti-viral (specifically against herpes and HIV) effects, as well as boosting the immune system. The most important pharmacologically active compounds are triterpenoids and polysaccharides [14].

Research has now confirmed that Reishi mushroom induces a self-triggered immune response and is a very powerful antioxidant. Nowadays it is also being used in modern medicine as a supplement to cancer treatment and to fight the side-effects of chemotherapy in China and also in Western countries [4]

Reishi Mushrooms also contain ergothioneine and glutathione both of which have shown potent free radical scavenging, antioxidant properties (15, 16, 17, 18)

Reishi extracts have definite anti-aging properties and they exert their anti-aging effects mainly through anti-oxidation, immunomodulation and anti-neurodegeneration. (1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6)

Siberian Ginseng (Eleuthero):

Eleuthero, also called Siberian ginseng, has been used medically for at least 2,000 years.  One of the most commons uses of this herbal remedy is as an adaptogen.

Eleutherosides are the main components of eleuthero that have potential health benefits. There are seven primary eleutherosides in eleuthero, with eleutherosides B and E being the most frequently studied. Siberian ginseng also contains complex polysaccharides.

Studies show that Eleuthero (Siberian Ginseng) is able to effectively reduce free radicals.

Both in vitro and in vivo studies have demonstrated Siberian ginseng’s inhibitory effects on malignant tumours, such as those in the lung and liver. Some experts believe that Eleuthero (Siberian Ginseng) may have strong potential to be developed as an effective anticancer drug. (1, 2, 3, 4, 5)

Echinacea Purpurea Root: ORAC VALUE 124,865

Echinacea, also called purple coneflower, is one of the most popular herbs worldwide.  It was discovered and used as a traditional herbal remedy for more than 400 years by the Great Plains Indian tribes.

Echinacea plants contain an impressive variety of active compounds, such as caffeic acid, cichoric acid, alkamides, phenolic acids, rosmarinic acid, polyacetylenes, flavonoids and many more.

Echinacea antioxidants are believed to defend the body against oxidative stress.

Echinacea benefits health and well-being like few other plants on the planet. (3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8)

Methylsulfonylmethane (MSM)

MSM is widely used in the alternative medicine field by people looking for a natural way to relieve joint pain, reduce inflammation and boost immunity.  It’s a sulphur-containing compound found naturally in plants, animals and humans. Our source is derived from plants.

MSM has been shown to suppress free radical activity in the body, reducing damage caused by oxidative stress  (97, 142, 143, 144 ,163, 164, 165)

Rosemary: ORAC Value 165,280

Rosemary, an herb, has been hailed since ancient times for its medicinal properties.

Among the most important group of compounds isolated from the plant are the abietane-type phenolic diterpenes that account for most of the antioxidant and many pharmacological activities of the plant. 

Rosemary is rich source of antioxidants and anti-inflammatory compounds that may help boost the immune system and improve blood circulation as well as aid in neutralising cell damaging free radicals. Most pharmacological effects of rosemary are the consequence of high antioxidant activity of its main chemical constituents, which include carnosol, carnosic acid, ursolic acid, rosmarinic acid, and caffeic acid. (24, 25, 26, 27, 46).

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