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Antioxidants boost the immune system and can help prevent cancer, heart disease and many other forms of major illness. They also slow down the effects of aging and can fend off conditions like Alzheimer's.
All foods contain antioxidants but some have more than others. In 2004 and 2007, scientists released two major reports publishing the amount of antioxidants or Oxygen Radical Absorbency Capacity (ORAC) levels contained in 277 foods.
Below are top foods containing antioxidants named in the June 2004 Journal of Agriculture and Food Chemistry and the 2007 report, Oxygen Radical Absorbence Capacity of Selected Foods, published by the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
Top Fruits for Antioxidants
Table Shows the fruit and ORAC value per serving, if eaten raw
- Cranberries - 9584
- Blueberries - 6552
- Prunes - 6552
- Blackberries - 5347
- Raspberries - 4882
- Red Delicious apple - 4275
- Strawberries - 3577
- Cherries - 3577
- Raisins, seedless - 3037
- Pear - 2941
- Orange - 1819
- Peach - 1814
- Red grapes - 1260
- Grapefruit - 1238
- Banana - 879
Eating these fruits fresh is the preferred (and most tasty) way of getting your antioxidants. However, when fruits are out of season, dried blueberries and cherries are fine.
Foods Containing Antioxidants - Vegetables
Beans are the top vegetables if measured by antioxidant content.
- Half cup red beans - 13,727
- Half cup red kidney beans - 13,259
- Half cup pinto beans - 11,864
- 1 cup cooked artichoke hearts - 7904
- 1 cooked Russet potato - 4649
- Half cup black beans - 4181
- Boiled broccoli, no salt - 2386
- Cooked red cabbage - 2350
- Steamed asparagus - 1480
- Baked sweet potato - 1199
Some of these foods containing antioxidants are also useful for reducing cholesterol levels, such as blueberries and beans.
Other Top Foods with Antioxidants
If you're a chocolate lover, here's news you'll like. Chocolate is rated extremely high on the ORAC scale. Dark chocolate is the most healthful chocolate choice as it has almost three times as many antioxidants as milk chocolate.
- Dark chocolate - 20,823
- Milk chocolate - 7528
- Pecans - 17,940
- English walnuts - 13,541
- Hazelnuts or Filberts - 9645
- Pistachio nuts - 7983
- Peanut butter, smooth with salt - 3432
Spices also get sky high ORAC values but we usually don't consume large quantities of these. See if your favorite spice has a high ORAC rating.
- Ground cinnamon - 267,536
- Dried oregano - 211,129
- Ground turmeric - 159,277
- Dried parsley - 74,349
- Dried basil - 67,553
- Curry powder - 48,504
- Black pepper - 27,618
Beverages with Antioxidants
Along with foods containing antioxidants, the 2007 USDA report lists ORAC values of some beverages and their antioxidant content. Red wine tops the list, followed by Condord grape and pomegranate juice. See the findings below:
- Red Cabernet Sauvignon - 5034
- Rose table wine - 1005
- White table wine - 392
- Concord grape juice - 2377
- 100% pomegranate juice - 2341
- Green tea brewed - 1253