Which foods are rich in antioxidants?

Antioxidants are abundant in fruits and vegetables, as well as in other foods including nuts, grains, and some meats, poultry, and fish. The list below describes food sources of common antioxidants.

Beta-carotene is found in many foods that are orange in color, including sweet potatoes, carrots, cantaloupe, squash, apricots, pumpkin, and mangos. Some green, leafy vegetables, including collard greens, spinach, and kale, are also rich in beta-carotene. Lutein, best known for its association with healthy eyes, is abundant in green, leafy vegetables such as collard greens, spinach, and kale. Lycopene is a potent antioxidant found in tomatoes, watermelon, guava, papaya, apricots, pink grapefruit, blood oranges, and other foods. Estimates suggest 85 percent of American dietary intake of lycopene comes from tomatoes and tomato products. Selenium is a mineral, not an antioxidant nutrient. However, it is a component of antioxidant enzymes. Plant foods like rice and wheat are the major dietary sources of selenium in most countries. The amount of selenium in soil, which varies by region, determines the amount of selenium in the foods grown in that soil. Animals that eat grains or plants grown in selenium-rich soil have higher levels of selenium in their muscle. In the United States, meats and bread are common sources of dietary selenium. Brazil nuts also contain large quantities of selenium. Vitamin A is found in three main forms: retinol (Vitamin A1), 3, 4-didehydroretinol (Vitamin A2), and 3-hydroxy-retinol (Vitamin A3). Foods rich in vitamin A include liver, sweet potatoes, carrots, milk, egg yolks, and mozzarella cheese. Vitamin C is also called ascorbic acid, and can be found in high abundance in many fruits and vegetables and is also found in cereals, beef, poultry, and fish. Vitamin E, also known as alpha-tocopherol, is found in almonds, in many oils including wheat germ, safflower, corn, and soybean oils, and is also found in mangos, nuts, broccoli, and other foods.

This answer is based on source information from the National Cancer Institute.
Dr. Mehmet Oz, MD
Cardiology (Cardiovascular Disease)
Antioxidants are found in:
  • Foods of the Mediterranean: fennel, an anti-inflammatory; octopus, a rich source of Omega-3 fatty acids, B12, iron and zinc; gigantes beans, giant lima beans rich in potassium.
  • Blueberries: 1 serving of this superfood provides more antioxidant activity than most fruits and veggies. Antioxidants fight the free radicals that cause wrinkles.
  • Tuna contains Omega-3 fatty acids that fight UV-related cell damage and are a rich source of niacin, a deficiency of which causes skin rashes.
  • Red wine made with the dark skin and seeds of the grapes that are rich in polyphenols, a type of antioxidant that includes resveratrol. If you aren't a drinker, opt for grape juice or a resveratrol supplement available at your drug store for about $25.
 This content originally appeared on
The foods you eat can do much to help prevent and fight a number of diseases. Most people can benefit by eating foods rich in antioxidants, which are naturally occurring substances that help block free radicals in our bodies, prevent or repair damage to body cells and may also improve immune function and lower risk of infection or cancer.

Antioxidants can be found in many foods, including fruits and vegetables, nuts, grains, some meats, poultry and fish, tea and red wine:
  • Vitamin A and carotenoids are found in carrots, squash, broccoli, tomatoes, peaches, apricots and other brightly colored fruits.
  • Vitamin C is found in citrus fruits like oranges and grapefruit, as well as green peppers, broccoli and other green, leafy vegetables.
  • Vitamin E can be found in nuts and seeds, whole grains, green leafy vegetables and vegetable and liver oil.
  • Selenium can be found in fish and shellfish, red meat, grains, eggs, chicken and garlic.
Getting More Antioxidants In Your Diet
  • Vitamin C -- citrus fruits, berries, melons, broccoli, tomatoes, cabbage, potatoes
  • Vitamin E -- vegetable oils, almonds, pistachio nuts, peanuts, wheat germ, whole grains, turnip greens, and mango
  • Beta-carotene -- carrot, sweet potatoes, spinach, dark leafy green vegetables, melon, cantaloupe, winter squash, and apricots
  • Zinc -- chicken, pork, liver, eggs, wheat germ, fortified breakfast cereals, and seafood
  • Copper -- liver, cocoa beans, nuts, whole grains, seafood, and dried fruits
The reason fruits and veggies come in such bright colors are antioxidants, many of which are actually colorful pigments. For instance, beta-carotene gives sweet potatoes, cantaloupe, and carrots their orangey hue, and lycopene makes tomatoes and watermelon red. Antioxidants don’t just make plants pretty colors; these pigments help fend off environmental attacks from ultraviolet (UV) radiation, bugs, fungus, and more. Human skin has its own supplies of many of these nutrients, but they get depleted in fighting off free radicals. That’s why you need to replenish by eating lots of jewel colored fruits and vegetables.

From The Mind-Beauty Connection: 9 Days to Less Stress, Gorgeous Skin, and a Whole New You by Amy Wechsler.
Will Clower, PhD
Nutrition & Dietetics
Want to boost your antioxidant intake? You can do it by focusing on one specific food group, as Dr. Will Clower, founder of Mediterranean Wellness, explains in this video.
William W. Li, MD
Internal Medicine
No need to memorize an exhaustive list of foods to learn which ones are good sources of antioxidants. In this video, diet and disease prevention specialist Dr. William Li reveals a simple trick for identifying antioxidant-rich foods.
When looking for foods rich in antioxidants, your first thought might be fruits and vegetables, which certainly are rich in these chemicals. But did you know that black rice is rich in antioxidants too? Cooked black rice has more antioxidants than blueberries, and it also has more fiber. Black rice specifically contains anthocyanins, which are credited with fighting heart disease and cancer. 

Black rice is mostly known in Asia and is used in sushi, puddings, noodles, and some food decorations. Find it in Asian markets, gourmet shops, and at some supermarkets. Prepare it the same way as white rice. 
Spinach and kale, along with other leafy greens are high in antioxidants. Other sources include pomegranates, Concord grape juice, blueberries, blackberries, raisins, red cabbage, prunes, raspberries, strawberries, oranges and carrots.
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
  • Walnuts
  • Apples
Spices such as cinnamon, cloves, and oregano are also rich in antioxidants.

Continue Learning about Antioxidants

Better-Than-Blueberries Fruit
Better-Than-Blueberries Fruit
When it comes to antioxidants, there's a certain fruit group that may be giving blueberries a run for their money. And you'd be "plum" foolish not to ...
Read More
What foods are good sources of phytochemicals?
Dariush Mozaffarian, MDDariush Mozaffarian, MD
Even the most humble fruits and vegetables are replete with phytochemicals -- chemical substances ma...
More Answers
What nutrients are good for the skin?
Dr. Mehmet Oz, MDDr. Mehmet Oz, MD
You may already know the importance of natural antioxidants inside the membranes of your cells (vita...
More Answers
What Is Chicoric Acid?
What Is Chicoric Acid?

Important: 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.