Nutrition Articles

The Antioxidant Guide

Get More Fighting Power in Your Diet

Are you sitting down? Here’s some alarming news: Researchers are discovering that functions as basic as eating and breathing produce dangerous substances in our bodies called free radicals. We’ll skip the organic chemistry lesson and simply say that scientists have found that these free radicals are packed with extra oxygen that destroys cells in our bodies.

Specific age-related problems most likely linked to free radicals include vision loss, heart disease, declining mental faculties and cancer. Eating foods containing antioxidants may slow the progression of these age-related diseases.

Antioxidants reportedly slow the aging process. It is an idea not totally embraced by the medical field – yet. It is gaining momentum though. "It is clear that up to 70% of strokes and 80% of heart disease can be prevented by changes in diet and lifestyle," says Balz Frei, Ph.D., director of Oregon State University’s Linus Pauling Institute, as reported in the April 2004 issue of Health.

Even if your doctor has yet to jump on the antioxidant bandwagon, consuming produce is part of a healthy diet. For easy ways to add wholesome, antioxidant-rich produce to your diet, check out an article on Secret Weapon Ingredients. And remember, the darker the color of the fruit or vegetable, the more antioxidants it has and the better it is for you.

The following table gives fruits and vegetables with accompanying ORAC (Oxygen Radical Absorbance Capacity – or antioxidant) potential. You can print this table and post it to your fridge for future reference when you make your grocery list. The higher the ORAC value, the better for you the food is.

Fruits (raw)
Vegetables (raw)
Prunes (4) 1,939 Kale (1 cup) 1,186
Blueberries (½ cup) 1,740 Beets (½ cup) 571
Blackberries (½ cup) 1,466 Red bell peppers (½ cup) 533
Strawberries (½ cup) 1,170 Brussels sprouts (½ cup) 431
Raisins (¼ cup) 1,026 Yellow corn (½ cup) 420
Raspberries (½ cup) 756 Spinach (1 cup) 378
Oranges (½ cup) 675 Onions (½ cup) 360
Plums (1) 626 Broccoli florets (½ cup) 320
Red grapes (½ cup) 591 Eggplant (1 cup) 320
Cherries (½ cup) 516    

Heat destroys some antioxidant vitamins, so try going raw instead of cooking. Now, eat up.

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Member Comments

    Since that article was written in 2004, it's been discovered, to researchers dismay, that anti oxidants are NOT the miracle they were hoped to be, helpful yes, but not cureable to diseases, and not magical!! Don't be so picky, just eat more unprocessed foods........if you like them, that is.
  • I shall enjoy my 2-ingredient peanut butter raisin cookies all the more now. hahaha Thanks a bunch. What a grape list. My humor is drying up here. hahaha That puts a new wrinkle on things.
  • I think the first and most important step to understanding antioxidants is spelling the word correctly in your headline image.
  • I just found out the coffeeberry has 625 times the antioxidant capacity than the "mighty" blueberry. I get it daily in my coffee, nutritional drink and my energy drinks!
  • This list could have been prepared far better. Half a cup of oranges? This is half of a large orange. What are the calories for each? Raisins are rich in antioxidants, but rich in calories too. Prunes are more modest in calories. Plums seem to be too low in antioxidant content, but that is only for 1 plum. 4 plums would be 4 times that, so better than prunes actually. Berries are low in calories and high in antioxidants, but their prices usually are pretty high. I would also put typical price ranges for each entry.

    A list must allow a proper comparison of various aspects of nutrition, calories included.
  • Totally learned a great deal from this article! Love most of everything on the list....great article.
  • Wow! Who knew prunes were so high!
  • Think green smoothies!
  • great to see that blueberries are near the top of the list for antioxidants - they're delicious (I just wish they were cheaper!)
  • Thank you for this article. I just went to the store for a few things, and picked up a big bag of kale greens. I love it, just never think to buy it.
  • What would have been more clear to say is that the process of "heating" has to do with the temperature used. "cooked" means anything over 110 degrees - dehydration is a very slow - low level heat which does not "cook" but dries which is why it still has a high level of antioxidant.

    I am a Xocai distributor of Health Dark Chocolate and we spend a GREAT deal of time addressing antioxidants because we are the category creator of high-level antioxidant HEALTHY dark chocolate whose ORAC scores are in the 15,000's based on independent Brunswick Lab scores... so me? I eat well AND I eat three pieces of chocolate a day to get my necessary antioxidants. It's a dream come true and I feel FABULOUS!
  • I find it funny that it says heat kills some antioxidants in the foods, but both raisins and prunes have more antioxidants as dried out (read: heated) versions of their fresh counterparts grapes and plums.
    I buy frozen berry mixes @ Aldi's its so simple (and less expensive) to add to your morning cereal, on top of ice cream or anything in between.

About The Author

Elizabeth Evans Fryer Elizabeth Evans Fryer
Elizabeth is a freelance writer specializing in fitness topics. Through her writing, she hopes to move others to be as excited as she is about staying healthy.