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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.