Which Foods Contain the Most Antioxidants?

One of the most important steps you can take to prevent heart disease, cancer, Alzheimer’s, and Parkinson’s disease is to eat plenty of antioxidant-rich foods. As discussed in a previous article on free radicals, antioxidants protect your health by preventing and repairing damage caused to your cells by excessive free radicals.

Antioxidants are plentiful in plant foods, particularly those that have bright colours. As of May, 2005, the most comprehensive study of the antioxidant content of common foods that I know of was published in the June 2004 edition of the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry. According to this study, the 20 most antioxidant-rich foods are as follows:

Rank Food Serving Size Antioxidant Capacity per Serving
1 Small red beans, dried 1/2 cup 13727
2 Wild blueberries 1 cup 13427
3 Red kidney beans, dried 1/2 cup 13259
4 Pinto beans 1/2 cup 11864
5 Blueberries, cultivated 1 cup 9019
6 Cranberries 1 cup 8983
7 Artichoke hearts, cooked 1 cup 7904
8 Blackberries 1 cup 7701
9 Dried prunes 1/2 cup 7291
10 Raspberries 1 cup 6058
11 Strawberries 1 cup 5938
12 Red delicious apple One 5900
13 Granny Smith apple One 5381
14 Pecans 1 ounce 5095
15 Sweet cherries 1 cup 4873
16 Black plum One 4844
17 Russet potato, cooked One 4649
18 Black beans 1/2 cup 4181
19 Plum One 4118
20 Gala apple One 3903

The highest ranked foods in four major categories are as follows:

Fruits: blueberries, cranberries, and blackberries.

Vegetables: beans, artichoke hearts, and surprisingly, russet potatoes.

Nuts: pecans, walnuts, and hazelnuts.

Spices: cinnamon, oregano, and ground cloves.

Here are a few points to keep in mind when choosing antioxidant-rich foods:

  1. Because there are many different types of antioxidants that can protect your tissues from different types of damage, it is best to eat a wide range of antioxidant-rich foods.
  2. How much you benefit from the antioxidants found in the foods you eat depends on how well you breakdown and absorb these foods.
  3. One of the best ways of making sure that you are getting plenty of antioxidants in your diet is to strive to eat lots of fresh vegetables. If you just don’t have the time to eat a large green salad every day, consider buying a good juicer and drinking a fresh vegetable juice on a daily basis. Another more convenient option is to use a high quality super green food product.
  4. It is best to limit the amount of sweet fruits that you eat according to your dental health and blood sugar and insulin levels. If you haven’t already, please read my article on the dangers of eating too much fruit.
  5. When washing and preparing vegetables and fruits, be sure to wash non-organic varieties with extra care to help remove pesticide residues. This is especially important for vegetables and fruits that are known to be heavily contaminated with pesticides.

Raw chocolate and goji berries are two foods that are extremely rich in antioxidants but were not evaluated for the study cited above.

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