One of the most affordable (and healthy) ways to delay the aging process, is to understand the benefits consuming of antioxidant-rich foods.
As the environment assaults our skin and body with UV radiation, pollutants, alcohol and other harmful factors, it can overpower the body’s ability to neutralize free radicals. Free radicals damage our body’s cell structure and function, if left unchecked. Scientists point to accumulation of free radicals as the contributing factor that leads to aging and a host of other illnesses, including cancer and heart disease.
Little is actually known about how antioxidants work or what makes them function best. Research has revealed, however, that some antioxidants are more potent than others, and their potency can be affected by cooking or digestion. For instance, antioxidants found in blueberries lose their potency when cooked, but the antioxidants in tomatoes become more potent when cooked.
In a study done by the USDA, more than 100 different kinds of foods, nuts, grains and cereals were evaluated for their antioxidant capabilities. Here is a list of their top 20 antioxidant-rich foods:
ANTIOXIDANT CAPACITY PER SERVING
|Small Red Bean||½ cup dried beans||13727 antioxidants|
|Wild Blueberry||1 cup||13427 antioxidants|
|Red Kidney Bean||½ cup dried beans||13259 antioxidants|
|Pinto Bean||½ cup dried beans||11864 antioxidants|
|Blueberry||1 cup whole berries||9019 antioxidants|
|Cranberry||1 cup whole berries||8983 antioxidants|
|Artichoke Hearts||1 cup cooked||7904 antioxidants|
|Blackberry||1 cup||7701 antioxidants|
|Prunes||½ cup||7291 antioxidants|
|Raspberry||1 cup||6058 antioxidants|
|Strawberry||1 cup||5938 antioxidants|
|Red Delicious Apple||1||5900 antioxidants|
|Granny Smith Apple||1||5381 antioxidants|
|Pecans||1 ounce||5095 antioxidants|
|Sweet Cherries||1 cup||4873 antioxidants|
|Black Plum||1||4844 antioxidants|
|Russet Potato||1 cooked||4649 antioxidants|
|Black Bean||½ cup dried beans||4181 antioxidants|
|Gala Apple||1||3903 antioxidants|
The best way to get your antioxidants is not to eat heaping bowls of dried small red beans each day, but rather to eat a wide variety of antioxidant-rich foods. Antioxidants work better in combination with each other. Fresh food is the obvious, best choice over frozen, cooked or otherwise processed food. So while blueberry pie may seem like a somewhat healthy treat, it can’t begin to compare with a bowl of fresh blueberries.
United States Department of Agriculture (Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry, June 9, 2004).