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, which researchers say is the largest, most comprehensive analysis to date of the antioxidant content of commonly consumed foods.
In addition to confirming the high antioxidant ranking of 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 Alzheimerís.
The new study is more complete and accurate than previous USDA antioxidant data and includes more foods than the previous study, the researchers say. They analyzed antioxidant levels in over 100 different foods, including fruit and vegetables. In addition, the new study includes data on spices and nuts for the first time.
Among the fruit, 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 fruit 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.
The researchers caution that the total antioxidant capacity of the foods does not necessarily reflect their potential health benefit, which depends on how they are absorbed and utilized in the body. Researchers are still trying to better understand this process.
Currently, there are no government guidelines for consumers on how many antioxidants to consume and what kind of antioxidants to consume in their daily diet, as is the case with vitamins and minerals. For now, nutrition experts continue to encourage consumers to eat a variety of fruit and vegetables for better health.
All research on this web site is the property of Leslie Beck Nutrition Consulting Inc. and is protected by copyright. Keep in mind that research on these matters continues daily and is subject to change. The information presented is not intended as a substitute for medical treatment. It is intended to provide ongoing support of your healthy lifestyle practices.