Antioxidant Content of 3,139 Foods

Antioxidant Content of 3,139 Foods
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In the most extensive study of its kind ever published, the amount of anti-aging anticancer antioxidants is measured across thousands of different foods.

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In the beginning, blueberries were the best. Then walnuts took the title, then wild blueberries took it back. Then small red beans were considered the #1 most antioxidant packed foods—until herbs and spices were tested.

Frankly, I thought it was over in 2007. Remember, the USDA had released a database of 277 foods. When only 40 foods were tested, blueberries were #1, but when hundreds of foods were tested, blueberries no longer even made the top ten. I ranked them for you by serving size, and by cost, antioxidant bang for your buck. Mission accomplished—until last year.

“The total antioxidant content of more than 3,000 foods, beverages, spices, herbs and supplements used worldwide.” The most comprehensive such study ever, by far. Are there even 3,000 foods out there? Just looking at the first page of the 138-page chart they include with the study, you know you’re in for a wild ride when they don’t just include something like gooseberries, or Indian gooseberries, or Indian gooseberries in a can, but even the antioxidant power of the syrup in the can of Indian gooseberries.

They tested 30 different beers, for those who stay up all night wondering if there’s more antioxidants in Coors or Bud Light. The answer? Miller, by a hair. But nothing compared, evidently, to Santa Claus beer from Austria, which put Guinness to shame, and all the rest. Don’t laugh; the standard American diet is so pitiful that beer represents the fifth largest source of antioxidants in the United States.

They measured Cap’n Crunch, the antioxidant content of Tootsie Rolls, everything from Krispy Kreme to the crushed dried leaves of the African Boabab tree. The skin of an organic lemon. Norwegian jungle dessert. It took them eight years to compile all this data.

With 3,139 foods tested, you can get as nitty gritty as you want. Like those new gold kiwis—do they have more antioxidants than the regular green ones? About three times as much! This body of work can help us decide hundreds of real life grocery store decisions we make all the time.

But it’s easy to get lost in the details. Let’s take a step back, which is what the researchers did. What does this body of work say about what we should eat, in general?

The first thing they did, Table 1, was to split everything into plant foods versus animal foods. Here’s plant foods. Here’s animal foods. On average, plant foods have 64 times more antioxidants than meat, fish, eggs, and dairy. This alone represents a powerful argument to eat a plant-based diet. Every time you eat something in this column, you miss out on an opportunity to eat something in this column. Animal foods max out at 100; plant foods go up to 289,000.

Quoting from the conclusion: “Antioxidant-rich foods originate from the plant kingdom while meat, fish and other foods from the animal kingdom are low in antioxidants….Diets comprised mainly of animal-based foods are thus low in antioxidant content while diets based mainly on a variety of plant-based foods are antioxidant rich, due to the thousands of bioactive antioxidant phytochemicals found in plants…”

To see any graphs, charts, graphics, images, and quotes to which Dr. Greger may be referring, watch the above video. This is just an approximation of the audio contributed by Dianne Moore.

Please consider volunteering to help out on the site.

Images thanks to TheCrimsonMonkey, mycola and temmuzcan via istockphoto; Leandroid via flickr; FotoJagodka via shutterstock and Renee Comet at the National Cancer Institute. Images have been modified.

In the beginning, blueberries were the best. Then walnuts took the title, then wild blueberries took it back. Then small red beans were considered the #1 most antioxidant packed foods—until herbs and spices were tested.

Frankly, I thought it was over in 2007. Remember, the USDA had released a database of 277 foods. When only 40 foods were tested, blueberries were #1, but when hundreds of foods were tested, blueberries no longer even made the top ten. I ranked them for you by serving size, and by cost, antioxidant bang for your buck. Mission accomplished—until last year.

“The total antioxidant content of more than 3,000 foods, beverages, spices, herbs and supplements used worldwide.” The most comprehensive such study ever, by far. Are there even 3,000 foods out there? Just looking at the first page of the 138-page chart they include with the study, you know you’re in for a wild ride when they don’t just include something like gooseberries, or Indian gooseberries, or Indian gooseberries in a can, but even the antioxidant power of the syrup in the can of Indian gooseberries.

They tested 30 different beers, for those who stay up all night wondering if there’s more antioxidants in Coors or Bud Light. The answer? Miller, by a hair. But nothing compared, evidently, to Santa Claus beer from Austria, which put Guinness to shame, and all the rest. Don’t laugh; the standard American diet is so pitiful that beer represents the fifth largest source of antioxidants in the United States.

They measured Cap’n Crunch, the antioxidant content of Tootsie Rolls, everything from Krispy Kreme to the crushed dried leaves of the African Boabab tree. The skin of an organic lemon. Norwegian jungle dessert. It took them eight years to compile all this data.

With 3,139 foods tested, you can get as nitty gritty as you want. Like those new gold kiwis—do they have more antioxidants than the regular green ones? About three times as much! This body of work can help us decide hundreds of real life grocery store decisions we make all the time.

But it’s easy to get lost in the details. Let’s take a step back, which is what the researchers did. What does this body of work say about what we should eat, in general?

The first thing they did, Table 1, was to split everything into plant foods versus animal foods. Here’s plant foods. Here’s animal foods. On average, plant foods have 64 times more antioxidants than meat, fish, eggs, and dairy. This alone represents a powerful argument to eat a plant-based diet. Every time you eat something in this column, you miss out on an opportunity to eat something in this column. Animal foods max out at 100; plant foods go up to 289,000.

Quoting from the conclusion: “Antioxidant-rich foods originate from the plant kingdom while meat, fish and other foods from the animal kingdom are low in antioxidants….Diets comprised mainly of animal-based foods are thus low in antioxidant content while diets based mainly on a variety of plant-based foods are antioxidant rich, due to the thousands of bioactive antioxidant phytochemicals found in plants…”

To see any graphs, charts, graphics, images, and quotes to which Dr. Greger may be referring, watch the above video. This is just an approximation of the audio contributed by Dianne Moore.

Please consider volunteering to help out on the site.

Images thanks to TheCrimsonMonkey, mycola and temmuzcan via istockphoto; Leandroid via flickr; FotoJagodka via shutterstock and Renee Comet at the National Cancer Institute. Images have been modified.

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