Why do we need antioxidants anyway?
Antioxidants protect us from nasty lil’ buggers called free radicals. Free radicals are unstable atoms that steal electrons from other atoms in an effort to become stable, causing a chain reaction of cell damage. Many aspects of our lives cause free radicals, including; disease, trauma, viruses, environment, and of course food. Eating highly processed, high fat, high sugar and/or fried foods laced with chemicals and pesticides produces excessive amounts of free radicals (so avoid them!).
Luckily, antioxidants counteract these free radicals by neutralizing them. Hooray antioxidants! (That doesn’t mean you are free and clear to eat the aforementioned foods!) It is best to get an array of foods containing antioxidants to neutralize free radicals throughout the body.
Which foods, you ask? An extensive study (published in the Journal of Agriculture and Food Chemistry in June 2004) was done on more than 100 different fruits, veggies, nuts and spices that led to the following list. The foods are listed in order, ranked by their total antioxidant capacity per serving, highest to lowest.
1. Small Red Beans (aka Mexican Red Beans, dried) – 1/2 cup
2. Wild Blueberries – 1 cup
3. Red Kidney Beans – 1/2 cup
4. Pinto Beans – 1/2 cup
5. Cultivated Blueberries – 1 cup
6. Cranberries (whole) – 1 cup
7. Artichoke Hearts (cooked) – 1 cup
8. Blackberries -1 cup
9. Prunes – 1/2 cup
10. Raspberries -1 cup
11. Strawberries -1 cup
12. Red Delicious Apples – 1
13. Granny Smith Apples – 1
14. Pecans -1 cup
15. Cherries -1 cup
16. Black Plums -1
17. Russet Potatoes (cooked) -1
18. Black Beans (dried) – 1/2 cup
19. Red Plums – 1
20. Gala Apples – 1
Well, what are you waiting for…? Go eat some antioxidant rich foods and prosper!