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In July 2006, a collaboration of Norwegian and U.S. scientists led by Nebte Halvorsen produced the largest ranking of antioxidant foods to date: over a thousand foods were studied, including processed foods and fresh fruits and vegetables.
Blackberries are at the top of their list, with an antioxidant content of 5.75 millimoles per serving (millimoles are a measure of the amount of electrons/hydrogen atoms).
The other antioxidant foods that make their top ten are walnuts, strawberries, artichokes, cranberries, coffee, raspberries, pecans, blueberries, and ground cloves.
There's a visual trick to figuring out which foods are good sources of antioxidants. In this video, dietitian explains how why it's smart to choose a food by its color.
Though our bodies have a natural supply of antioxidants, they are not enough. Plant-based antioxidants -- such as those found in beta-carotene, alpha-carotene, and vitamins C and E -- consumed in a diet rich in fruits and vegetables help augment our bodies' natural antioxidants. So it's important to eat plenty of veggies and fruits in order to help ward off disease and the problems associated with aging. As it happens, many of the foods that are richest in antioxidants are also richest in phytochemicals.
These foods have the most antioxidants per serving:
- Kidney beans, pinto beans, black beans and red beans
- Blueberries, blackberries, cranberries, raspberries, strawberries and cherries
- Cooked artichokes
- Prunes and plums
Spices such as cinnamon, cloves and oregano are also rich in antioxidants.
Your body cells naturally produce plenty of antioxidants to put on patrol. The foods you eat -- and, perhaps, some of the supplements you take -- are another source of antioxidant compounds. Carotenoids (such as lycopene in tomatoes and lutein in kale) and flavonoids (such as anthocyanins in blueberries, quercetin in apples and onions, and catechins in green tea) are antioxidants. The vitamins C and E and the mineral selenium also have antioxidant properties. Berries, dark chocolate, apples, onions, and certain types of tea are all sources of the flavonoid antioxidants.
Fruits and vegetables are good sources of antioxidants. Diets filled with fruits and vegetables offer a full plate of phytochemicals (a class of nutrients that occur naturally in plants), vitamins and minerals, all which can act as antioxidants.
The list of antioxidants includes:
- vitamin C
- vitamin E
- carotenoids, such as beta-carotene, and vitamin A
- other phytochemicals like indole-3-carbinol (found in cruciferous vegetables, such as cabbage, cauliflower, broccoli, kale and Brussels sprouts); allyl sulfides (onions, leeks, garlic); flavonoids (fruits, teas) and polyphenols (teas, grapes)
This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.