20 Antioxidant-Rich Fruits and Vegetables You Should Be Eating
What foods pack the most powerful antioxidant punch? Researchers at the Human Nutrition Research Center on Aging at Tufts University measured various produce for their ORAC (oxygen radical absorbance capacity), or their antioxidant power.
Black plums have 4,873 total antioxidants, and their dried counterpart, prunes pack 7,291 into just half a cup, according to WebMD.com.
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Similarly, red grapes have 2,016 total antioxidants per serving, and raisins contain 2,490.
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Blueberries have more antioxidants—those magical molecules that can help prevent a host of maladies—than 40 other common fruits and vegetables. Eating one cup of wild blueberries will provide 13,427 total antioxidants, about 10 times the USDA’s recommendation. The farmed variety will give you 9,019 per cup.
Blackberries are rich in antioxidants, but know that they’re also packed with polyols, the main component in sugar substitutes (which are often blamed for abdominal health issues).
Like blueberries and raspberries, strawberries are high in antioxidants, which protect healthy cells from many cancers.
Make your portion more powerful: A study in the Journal of Nutrition determined that the antioxidant ellagic acid (found in raspberries, pomegranates, walnuts, and cranberries) enhanced the ability of quercetin (an antioxidant found in apples, grapes, onions, and buckwheat) to kill off cancerous cells.
Pick the black kind to get 4,873 antioxidants per serving. Dried plums (prunes) offer slightly more.
Oranges, along with mangos, peaches, and watermelon, are rich in beta-cryptoxanthin, an antioxidant and one of a pair of compounds that lowered the risk of arthritis by an impressive 20 to 40 per cent in a UK study of 25,000 people.
Enjoy this healthy, low-calorie snack: You can eat 20 red seedless grapes and still consume only 100 calories.
Juicy and tart Montmorency cherries are your best source of the antioxidant melatonin. Other cherries have it, too, but Montmorency has the most. Melatonin protects the skin against ultraviolet radiation. Researchers have discovered that this powerful little nutrient also helps repair sunburned skin, since it stimulates new skin-cell growth. Cherries are also packed with vitamin C, which is needed to build collagen—your skin’s natural “scaffolding” and a wrinkle preventer.
Rich in cancer-fighting antioxidants and vitamins, kale is also a good source of beta-carotene and is the top combo of both lutein and zeaxanthin.
Spinach is packed with carotenoids—antioxidants that promote healthy eyes and help prevent macular degeneration, the leading cause of blindness in older people.
These broccoli cousins have plenty of bitter sulforaphane as well as compounds called isothiocyanates, which detoxify cancer-causing substances in the body before they can do their dirty work. In one Dutch study, guys who ate brussels sprouts daily for three weeks had 28 per cent less genetic damage (gene damage is a root cause of cancer) than those who didn’t eat sprouts.
This tiny powerhouse is rich in beta-carotene, an antioxidant that protects against lung cancer and helps maintain healthy skin, hair, nails, gums, glands, bones, and teeth. Alfalfa sprouts are also a good source of vitamin E, which may help prevent heart attacks, stokes, and lower the risk of death from bladder cancer.
Broccoli is full of cancer-fighting antioxidants. One study found men who ate 5 servings or more per week of cruciferous veggies like broccoli were half as likely to develop bladder cancers over a 10-year period as men who rarely ate them.
Beets are packed with healthy nutrients, like five essential vitamins, calcium, iron, potassium, and protein.
Red bell peppers
One medium pepper is light on calories (only 32!) but heavy on vitamin C, providing 150 per cent of your recommended daily value and warding off atherosclerosis, which can lead to heart disease.
You’ll get the most out of this veggie’s cancer-fighting antioxidants by eating it raw; cooking onions at a high heat significantly reduces the benefits of phytochemicals that protect against lung and prostate cancer.
A study in the Journal of Agricultural Food and Chemistry found that the longer corn was cooked, the higher the level of antioxidants like lutein, which combats blindness in older adults.
All types of eggplant are rich in bitter chlorogenic acid, which protects against the buildup of heart-threatening plaque in artery walls (and fights cancer, too!), say USDA scientists in Beltsville, Maryland. In lab studies, eggplant lowered cholesterol and helped artery walls relax, which can cut your risk of high blood pressure.
Originally published as Which Antioxidant-Rich Fruits and Vegetables Should You Be Eating on ReadersDigest.com.