Which Foods Have the Highest Antioxidants?

Diane Goettel
Diane Goettel

In order to keep the body healthy, many people try to fill their diets with foods with the highest antioxidants. The United States Food and Drug Administration released a report a few years ago detailing the top 20 foods with the highest antioxidants. The list is populated by fruits, vegetables, and legumes.

Prunes are high in antioxidants.
Prunes are high in antioxidants.

Before considering which foods have the highest amount of antioxidants, it is useful to understand why antioxidants are important in a healthy diet. Antioxidants are molecules that can prevent other molecules from oxidizing. When an oxidation reaction occurs in the body, free radicals can be produced. These free radicals can produce chain reactions that damage the cells in the body. An antioxidant is a molecule that allows itself to become oxidized and halts these damaging chain reactions.

Blueberries are a good natural source of antioxidants.
Blueberries are a good natural source of antioxidants.

Berries are among the fruits with the highest antioxidants. Strawberries are number 11 on the USDA list. Just above strawberries at number ten are raspberries. Black berries are number eight. Cranberries and blueberries occupy spots six and five respectively. Finally, the berry with the highest antioxidants are blueberries, which are listed as number two on the list.

Adzuki beans.
Adzuki beans.

Apples are also important on the list of foods with the highest antioxidants. Scanning the top of the list down to the bottom are Red Delicious apples, Granny Smith apples, and Gala apples, which occupy spots number 12, 13, and 20 respectively. The two key vegetables on the list are russet potatoes, number 17, and artichokes, number seven. Both of these vegetables are highest in antioxidants when they have been cooked.

Cranberries (and cranberry juice) are rich in antioxidants.
Cranberries (and cranberry juice) are rich in antioxidants.

Other fruits on the list are plums, number 19; black plums, number 16; sweet cherries, number 15; and prunes, number nine. The only nut that made it to the list of the top 20 foods with the highest level of antioxidants is the pecan, which is number 14 on the list.

Cherries are high in antioxidants.
Cherries are high in antioxidants.

For those who have been keeping count, that leaves four spaces left on the list of foods with the highest antioxidants, including the food that took the prize and was ranked number one. All four of the remaining foods are beans. Black beans came in at number 18. Much higher on the list are pinto beans and red kidney beans, numbers four and three respectively. Finally, at the top of the list is the small red bean.

Granny Smith apples are high in antioxidants.
Granny Smith apples are high in antioxidants.
Assorted beans, many of which are rich in antioxidants.
Assorted beans, many of which are rich in antioxidants.
Strawberries are low in carbohydrates and high in vitamins, antioxidants and fiber.
Strawberries are low in carbohydrates and high in vitamins, antioxidants and fiber.
Plums are on the list of top 20 antioxidant sources.
Plums are on the list of top 20 antioxidant sources.
Dark purple berries, as well as blue and red berries, are high in antioxidants.
Dark purple berries, as well as blue and red berries, are high in antioxidants.
Green tea typically has up to 10 times more antioxidant polyphenols than fruits and vegetables.
Green tea typically has up to 10 times more antioxidant polyphenols than fruits and vegetables.
Diane Goettel
Diane Goettel

In addition to her work as a freelance writer for wiseGEEK, Diane is the executive editor of Black Lawrence Press, an independent publishing company based in upstate New York. She has also edited several anthologies, the e-newsletter Sapling, and The Adirondack Review. Diane has a B.A. from Sarah Lawrence College and an M.A. from Brooklyn College.

You might also Like

Readers Also Love

Discuss this Article

Post your comments
Login:
Forgot password?
Register: