Artichokes and beans may not be at the top of your list of favourite foods, but when it comes to antioxidants, these veggies earn a coveted place. They are among a growing variety of foods found to contain surprisingly high levels of these disease-fighting compounds, according to a new USDA study. Researchers say it is the largest, most comprehensive analysis to date of the antioxidant content of commonly consumed foods.
In addition to confirming the well-publicized high-antioxidant ranking of such foods as cranberries and blueberries, the researchers found that Russet potatoes, pecans and even cinnamon are all excellent, although lesser-known, sources of antioxidants, which are thought to fight cancer, heart disease and Alzheimer’s.
“The bottom line is the same: eat more fruits and veggies,” says Ronald L. Prior, PhD, of the Arkansas Children’s Nutrition Center in Little Rock. “This study confirms that those foods are full of benefits, particularly those with higher levels of antioxidants. Nuts and spices are also good sources.”
Among the fruits, vegetables and nuts analyzed, each food was measured for antioxidant concentration as well as antioxidant capacity per serving size. Cranberries, blueberries, and blackberries ranked highest among the fruits studied. Beans, artichokes and Russet potatoes were tops among the vegetables. Pecans, walnuts and hazelnuts ranked highest in the nut category.
Although spices are generally consumed in small amounts, many are high in antioxidants. On the basis of antioxidant concentration, ground cloves, ground cinnamon and oregano were the highest among the spices studied.
American Chemical Society, Jun 16, 2004