Top 10 Antioxidant Foods

Antioxidants are prized for their amazing ability to fight heart disease, cancer, and aging. Which item tops the list of antioxidant foods? Surprise! It's the small red bean. Find out what else made the list.

By Doug Donaldson


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The Power of Superfoods
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The Power of Superfoods

    A U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) study published in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry found other surprises, including that russet potatoes, pecans, and cinnamon are high in antioxidants.

    "The bottom line is the same: Eat more fruits and veggies," says Ronald Prior, Ph.D., with the USDA's Arkansas Children's Nutrition Center in Little Rock.

    Keep reading for the full list of antioxidant foods and recipes.

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Small Red Beans

    While all beans have health benefits, the more colorful beans, such as red and black, may have an added bonus. Beans contain eight flavonoids, plant substances that act as nature's dyes and give many fruits and vegetables their colors. Scientists say these plant chemicals act as antioxidants to give you some protection against heart disease and certain cancers. Serve beans as a side dish or substitute them for meat once or twice a week.

    Bean Tips:

    -- Add a handful of intensely flavored greens, such as arugula, and a touch of Parmesan cheese to perk up a humble bean dish.

    -- Combine tomatoes, which are high in vitamin C, with beans, a source of iron, and your body will absorb more of the iron.

    Reach for red and black beans as often as possible for a more potent nutritional boost.

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Wild Blueberries

    Blueberries are tops when it comes to good-for-you benefits. They're loaded with a healthy plant-chemical called anthocyanins, which give them that gorgeous blue hue and provide some protection against heart disease. Preliminary research also indicates that blueberries may have a positive effect on improving night vision and reducing blood glucose levels.

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Red Kidney Beans

    Beans, including garbanzo, white, black, red, and navy, are naturally low in fat and contain no saturated fat, trans fats, or cholesterol. They are high in protein, fiber, iron, folic acid, and potassium. In addition to health benefits related to heart disease and cancer, studies also suggest eating beans may help manage diabetes and cut the risk of high blood pressure and stroke.

    The Benefits of Beans:

    Eat legumes regularly. A recent study found that people who eat legumes (beans, peas, and peanuts) four or more times each week lower their risk of developing heart disease by 22 percent compared with those who eat them less than once a week.

    -- Beans can be as effective as oat bran in lowering cholesterol.

    -- Remember that 1/2 cup of beans provides at least 10 percent of your daily folate needs.

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Pinto Beans

    The benefits of eating beans far outweigh the notorious side effects. Beans are naturally low in fat and contain no saturated fat, trans fats, or cholesterol. They are high in protein, fiber, iron, folic acid, and potassium. In addition to health benefits related to heart disease and cancer, studies also suggest eating beans may help manage diabetes and cut the risk of high blood pressure and stroke.

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Blueberries

    Blueberries contain no fat or cholesterol. They're high in fiber and low in calories. Blueberries are bursting with antioxidants, containing more than you find in 40 other fruits and vegetables. Look for berries that have a silvery bloom coating. If not, they may not be fresh or may have been washed and won't keep as long. Frozen blueberries are just as nutritious as fresh.

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Cranberries

    For years, doctors have touted the fact that cranberries prevent harmful bacteria from sticking to the walls of the urinary tract, thus cutting down on the possibility of infections. Now researchers also point out that cranberries are high in antioxidants and other phytonutrients important for protecting the body against heart disease, cancer, and other conditions, such as memory loss.

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Artichokes

    Low in calories and sodium, artichokes are packed with vitamin C, folate, and fiber. For beginners, artichokes from the jar are available. If you're up for adventure, try the fresh variety, which take a little practice to snip and trim.

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Blackberries

    Packed with anthocyanins, a plant chemical that gives them their deep color and act as antioxidants, blackberries are also rich in vitamin C and fiber, which have been shown to reduce the risk of certain types of cancer and heart disease.

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Prunes

    Long revered as a good source of fiber, prunes are also being recognized for their antioxidant properties and helping slow age-related mental and physical problems.

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Raspberries

    High in polyphenolic compounds, which are plant chemicals that act as powerful antioxidants and fight cardiovascular disease and cancer, raspberries help fight inflammation and have been used to reduce arthritis-related pain.

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