Antioxidant Content of 300 Foods

Antioxidant Content of 300 Foods
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Ranking foods by antioxidants per serving.

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Here’s the average antioxidant content of much of what Americans eat—peas and carrots, corn, lettuce, bananas—just as a reference.

Let’s go in reverse order for the top dozen superfoods, starting with #12—a tablespoon of cocoa powder, which I talked about in my 2007 review. #11—a half-cup of blueberries. Blueberries didn’t even make the top ten this year! In tenth place, a pomegranate. Ninth, one black plum. Eighth, a handful of pecans. Seventh, one pear. Sixth, a half-cup of cranberries. Fifth, an apple. Fourth, a teaspoon of cinnamon. Third, an artichoke. The runner-up: a half-cup of goji berries. And, if you were given the choice to eat a single serving of any food on the planet, in terms of antioxidant power, you wouldn’t be going to the Himalayas for gojis, you’d go to…Brazil. Way off the charts—nearly 75,000 antioxidant units—a half-cup serving of açai berries.

Look at that color. They’re so purple, they’re black. In fact, the color is so intense that they sometimes actually give these berries to people before abdominal MRIs, because it actually stains the inside of your intestines, and can kind of act as contrast.

Okay, a few observations on our dozen. First, every food you don’t see on the list has an antioxidant per serving level between about 400 and 4,000—which just underscores how amazing these foods are.

Second: artichokes? That was a surprise. Ever since I’ve learned that, I always keep a can of artichoke hearts in our pantry, and try add them wherever we can. That’s basically how it works. I come back from a long day of research at the National Library of Medicine, and go straight to the grocery store to put it into practice—whatever I find out.

And finally, check it out: plums, pears, and apples. You don’t have to go to the other side of the world or order exotic fruit over the internet. We hear how amazing pomegranates are, but one plum, one pear, one simple, humble apple beats them out. Which brings up an important point: cost.

You can pretty much walk into any big natural food store, go to the frozen section, and buy a pound of açai berries. But it may costs five or ten dollars! So, in terms of practicality, I calculated not only antioxidants per serving, but antioxidants per dollar.

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.

Here’s the average antioxidant content of much of what Americans eat—peas and carrots, corn, lettuce, bananas—just as a reference.

Let’s go in reverse order for the top dozen superfoods, starting with #12—a tablespoon of cocoa powder, which I talked about in my 2007 review. #11—a half-cup of blueberries. Blueberries didn’t even make the top ten this year! In tenth place, a pomegranate. Ninth, one black plum. Eighth, a handful of pecans. Seventh, one pear. Sixth, a half-cup of cranberries. Fifth, an apple. Fourth, a teaspoon of cinnamon. Third, an artichoke. The runner-up: a half-cup of goji berries. And, if you were given the choice to eat a single serving of any food on the planet, in terms of antioxidant power, you wouldn’t be going to the Himalayas for gojis, you’d go to…Brazil. Way off the charts—nearly 75,000 antioxidant units—a half-cup serving of açai berries.

Look at that color. They’re so purple, they’re black. In fact, the color is so intense that they sometimes actually give these berries to people before abdominal MRIs, because it actually stains the inside of your intestines, and can kind of act as contrast.

Okay, a few observations on our dozen. First, every food you don’t see on the list has an antioxidant per serving level between about 400 and 4,000—which just underscores how amazing these foods are.

Second: artichokes? That was a surprise. Ever since I’ve learned that, I always keep a can of artichoke hearts in our pantry, and try add them wherever we can. That’s basically how it works. I come back from a long day of research at the National Library of Medicine, and go straight to the grocery store to put it into practice—whatever I find out.

And finally, check it out: plums, pears, and apples. You don’t have to go to the other side of the world or order exotic fruit over the internet. We hear how amazing pomegranates are, but one plum, one pear, one simple, humble apple beats them out. Which brings up an important point: cost.

You can pretty much walk into any big natural food store, go to the frozen section, and buy a pound of açai berries. But it may costs five or ten dollars! So, in terms of practicality, I calculated not only antioxidants per serving, but antioxidants per dollar.

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.

51 responses to “Antioxidant Content of 300 Foods

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  1. Thanks for all the videos- in a quick search, there’s one thing that I haven’t seen so far, and that’s a general anti-oxidant video. In other words, it’s one thing to inhibit oxidation in a lab and another to demonstrate value in people. If you have any great insights into that more basic topic, I’d very much appreciate it. Thanks again!




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    1. That is an excellent point! These videos are taken from my Latest in Clinical Nutrition DVD series, and as such talk more about the cutting-edge work and may neglect some of the basics. I do cover antioxidant fundamentals in my Stopping Cancer DVD. May be too large to upload for this site, but I’ll try to get it up on youtube.




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    1. Purple cabbage has the highest antioxidant level per dollar, acai berries have the highest per serving. We need 15,000 micromoles per day. A half cup of acai berries has that plus WAY MORE. I don’t know how much they have per dollar and I don’t know how many antioxidants are in purple cabbage per serving. I just make sure I eat both every day.




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  2. What is the optimal way to get acai in the US?

    is monavie (see monavie.com juice) and other acai juieces denatured and therefore unhelpful for getting the maximum/optimal ORAC/antioxidants?

    Is frozen acai (like sambozan) ineffective (freezing fruit compromises the cell wall, etc)? If so, what is currently on the market for acai (bioavailable, etc)




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  3. hit the ‘return” key too quickly on previous post. please pardon…

    What acai option in the market/grocery offers optimal antioxidants/ORAC?

    Are acai juices effective?

    Are acai frozen packs effective?




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  4. Hi Dr. Greger,
    I would love to get a sample of the daily meal plans that you have. This would be helpful in guiding us in maximizing the nutrients and anti-oxidants that we consume. Have you ever published such samples?
    Thanks,
    Anne




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  5. my blood sugar is 80 and i think my blood pressure Was 120 over 48 i think just by EEating Super,Ultra,Alkaline Organic Plus HIGH AntiOxidant Foods & Water ONLY and i just came from my doctors like Novemeber 21 2012 On A Wednesday And My Weight is DOWN Frommm 291 Pounds To 271 Pounds and I Just Lost 20lbs In A MONTH DOCC :)




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  6. if you eat Organic chava dark chocolate plus Antioxidant And each Pieace of dark Chocolate has 37,100 Per Choclate AntiOxidant And If You Eat 3 Of Them 37,100 X 3= 111,300 HIGH AntiOxidants Chava Dark Chocolate…I Mite Be Wrong Doc….




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  7. It reminds me of the old joke about a newspaper headline, Someone thought it was a killer rampaging at the supermarket. “Artichokes two for a dollar at the supermarket”. (Arty chokes)




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  8. The perfect recipe to incorporate the number one anticancer vegetable
    (http://nutritionfacts.org/video/1-anticancer-vegetable/), and two of the top dozen antioxidant rich foods into your diet. Enjoy antioxidant-rich pears and cinnamon (ranked 4th place) in this delicious soup.

    Butternut Squash, Parsnip, and Pear Soup

    -1 large butternut squash, ½ inch dice
    -2 cups parsnip, ½ inch dice
    -1 medium red onion, diced
    -1 bunch green onions, sliced
    -2 cloves garlic, minced
    -½ cup red lentils
    -2 large pears, ½ inch dice
    -½ tsp paprika
    -1 tsp Ceylon cinnamon (http://nutritionfacts.org/video/the-safer-cinnamon/)
    -6 cups water/home-made vegetable stock
    -sea salt

    Roast diced butternut squash dry (without oil) at 400°F until tender and slightly browned, about 45 minutes. Meanwhile, bring water/stock to a boil and add all other ingredients except pears, and salt. Lower heat and simmer until parsnips, onions, and lentils are cooked, about 30 minutes. Add pear and continue cooking until pear has softened. Add roasted squash and cooked 5 minutes longer. Season to taste with sea salt.




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      1. White kidney beans, blended, with garlic, red onion and dates. Heat on stove with turmeric and black pepper. My italian wife makes this as an Alfredo sauce. TO DIE FOR.




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        1. Sean: You are making me drool! Is your wife willing to share the recipe? Or does she just guage all the amounts by eye?

          Either way, thanks for sharing.




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          1. We’re really busy so we don’t mess with measurements. I buy the groceries and she cooks a few times per week. Our list is basically bananas, dates, mangoes, goji berries, gooseberries, blackeyed peas, white kidney beans, olives, purple cabbage, kale, broccoli, spinach, tomatoes, date sugar, garlic, onions. Just to give you an idea of what kinds of freaks we really are. I will say we use soy milk with the white kidney beans in the blender and we tend to keep the onions and garlic whole and wait to add them in when the mixture is on the stove. We go super super super heavy on the garlic. I was deprived of garlic as a kid and my wife loves it. Just mix it up with proportions that suit your personal taste buds. Don’t forget to add turmeric and black pepper for brain health. Kill it in the kitchen. There’s no reason not to. I love you!




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            1. Sean: I want to come live with you guys for a while. Sounds not only healthy, but so, so good. I’ll have to work up my courage some time and see if I can make one that at least rates a “good”, if not all the way up to “to die for”. ;-)

              Thanks for the encouraging reply!




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              1. Anytime! For the last nine months my wife and I have been eating nothing but fruits vegetables and we cannot get enough of it. The trick for us has been to dive in headfirst and not look back. The supersecret for me, however, has been to eat as much as I can. I eat at least 5000 cal every single day and I don’t work out that much and I haven’t gained a pound. The cool thing is I haven’t lost any weight either but I am definitely dropping body fat at a very constant and reasonable rate. I am proud of you and I admire your willingness to change the world. You are amazing. It’s amazing what a couple of idiots can do it we set our mind to it. I’ve been so surprised by my “skills” in the kitchen. Trust me, if we can do it, you can do it with great aplum. :)




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  9. For those looking to buy Acai or Ceylon cinnamon, I just found this site that looks very promising: https://www.mountainroseherbs.com
    Primarily organic, lots of great products, and great bulk discounting.
    I just purchased >13 lbs of herbs, spices, berries, and the like from them which will save me big time at the local stores (whole foods and the like)

    I’d really like to know how Bilberry, Barberry, and Maqui berry stack up compared to the others!




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  10. I’d like to plant a “black plum” in my yard, but I’m having trouble finding any cultivars with such a name. Any info on back plum varieties?




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  11. Dr. Greger, thank you so much for these excellent and informative videos.

    I now understand that anti-oxidants counteract the effects of free radicals in the body … what I am curious about is if there is some kind of balance … that is, can you tip the scale too far the other way by eating too many anti-oxidants and could that be a problem? Could too many or too much concentration of anti-oxidants cause a problem?

    Also, apples, pears and plums are good anti-oxidants, but can you get those anti-oxidant by juicing fresh fruit in a juicer, or blending in a blender. Would you get more anti-oxidant density by juicing just the skins of the apple for example instead of the insides which is just mostly sugar. I saw one health fanatic in a documentary who just ate apples skins … would that work and would it work by juicing … by blending or both?




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  12. My husband has a diagnosed Pylycytemia Vera. He takes a cytostaticum “Hydrea”. Is it true that an antiocidant, Q10, makes the cytostatikum less effektive? He would benefit taking Q10 for his heart. He is 76 years old and really in “good shape” after all.




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  13. My husband has a diagnosed Polycytemia Vera. Is it true that an antioxidant Q10 could make his treatment with the cytostaticum “Hydrea” less effective? How would you have treated him? Otherwise he is in “good shape” Kindest regards! / His Swedish wife




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  14. Thanks so much for this website. We love all of your information.

    Just a quick concern that I don’t think has been asked before, at least not that I have seen.

    As a daily recommendation is it better to eat lots of small servings of a variety of super healthy foods? Or better to eat larger servings of fewer foods and rotate often to get variety?

    We like to blend up a variety of super healthy foods (heavy on veggies, light on fruit). We like a variety but maybe we should be doing larger portions but smaller variety.

    Thanks!




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    1. Grandma: Correct me if I’m wrong, but I kind of see two different questions in your post – one about frequency of eating “..better to eat lots of small servings…”. And one about the importance of variety. Dr. Greger addresses frequency of eating here:

      “A review of the best available science examining the impact of eating frequency on both weight and health.”:
      http://nutritionfacts.org/video/to-snack-or-not-to-snack/

      As for variety, Dr. Greger seems to favor lots of variety. It would take more time than I have right now to find, but I remember several videos where Dr. Greger would show that say something to this effect:, “This plant worked on this problem (say stomach cancer), but did nothing for this problem (say brain cancer). But this other food did help with the other problem (brain cancer)… And hence eating a variety of foods is a good idea.”

      I’m not sure this response answers your full question, but I think it at least partially addresses what you are trying to ask. Yes?




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  15. Artichoke just made my grocery list for today. No idea how to prepare, but i trust the collective will illuminate this issue.




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    1. Wade: I too started making an effort to incorporate artichokes into my diet after seeing this video. Not that it was any hardship since I really love artichokes. But how to make them healthy (ie, without a ton of mayo as I grew up eating them)? Some ideas that have worked for me:

      I often find myself buying the frozen artichoke hearts from Trader Joes. They are already cooked and chopped up. All you have to do is eat them or add them directly to recipes. Sometimes I leave a bag out over night and then eat the whole bag for breakfast, maybe with some well aged balsamic vinegar added. If you don’t have a Trader Joes near you, other stores tend to carry something similar in the

      I have found that artichoke hearts work great in place of broccoli or zucchini or other fleshy types of veggies in recipes. Not that those other veggies are bad for you. Just that it is convenient to take a recipe that works great and sometimes substitute in the artichokes for both variety and just to get that artichoke into my diet. I find myself making recipes from the recipe book Vegan Casseroles a surprising (for me) number of times. And artichokes are great substitutes for other veggies, including spinach, in a couple of those recipes.
      http://www.amazon.com/Vegan-Casseroles-Pasta-Bakes-Gratins/dp/0762448849/ref=sr_1_1_twi_1_pap?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1430766883&sr=1-1&keywords=vegan+casseroles

      When I started focusing on artichokes, I found myself surprised at how many recipes actually call for artichokes. Keep a lookout. After seeing you post, I had gone home for the weekend and worked on picking out my food for the week. I was thumbing through one of my favorite new cookbooks, The Saucy Vegetarian, and saw that at least one of the sauces were recommended to go over artichokes. (FYI: This is an awesome book of no-cook, super-easy, vegan sauces. I have made several now and rated several as “good” or “great”.)
      http://www.amazon.com/s/ref=nb_sb_ss_c_0_16/186-9165125-4463850?url=search-alias%3Dstripbooks&field-keywords=saucy+vegetarian&sprefix=saucy+vegetarian%2Caps%2C246

      My last idea is to put chopped up bits in various soups and stews. Sounds good to me.

      Hope these ideas help!




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    2. Wade: One more idea for you: While nothing beets frozen artichokes hearts for convenience, you might find yourself with the whole big thing. How to cook? I have read (not tried it myself), that pressure cookers are ideal for preparing whole artichokes. Some people, apparently, use their pressure cookers for nothing but that. Maybe look around for directions if this interests you.




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      1. I’ve spent some 40+ years steaming artichokes—much to my constant frustration. They often end up waterlogged, or if making more than one, one would be cooked when the other was not, and then the worst was when after waiting and waiting and waiting, they would come out overcooked. Years ago a friend told us they had begun roasting their artichokes and they felt it was the best way to prepare them. We tried it and, again, we waited for an unreasonably long amount of time for the artichokes to be done but then we found them tough and inedible. We never did that again! I recently purchased an electric Fagor pressure cooker at Bed Bath & Beyond—where you can use those ubiquitous 20% off coupons *and* you can return any appliance at any time for any reason. I was absolutely shocked when I cooked 2 large artichokes in 6 minutes! I absolutely cannot recommend any other preparation. Get yourself an electric pressure cooker, asap! There are loads of Instapot groups on Facebook, including several plant-based ones. Instapot is a great device but I can use all the recipes and preparations in my pressure cooker as well, so you don’t have to go that route if you’d rather get one at a local store.




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  16. Just a quick question about dried fruit. Can they be dangerous with some of the chemicals that are put on them to help them dry faster (Industrial Practices)?




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    1. I’ve never heard of this, but I only get organic. The packages usually say sun dried except for the dried mango which I buy in bulk, but I can’t imagine chemicals are allowed to be used for certified organic fruit. Organic is always the safest bet.




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  17. Açaí is that good? I am from Brazil but never consumed açai but a few times. Now i will try it more. Its good in smoothies and with milk, soy milk, with oat and yogurt.




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    1. Dairy products tend to cancel out antioxidants to a great degree. Dairy is extremely unhealthy in general, but if you’re trying to get all the antioxidant benefits of super foods or any food, I wouldn’t consume it with dairy. Soy milk also interferes with antioxidants in tea and possibly cacao in the same way dairy milk does.




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  18. Ok wait… every single food not on this list is not between 400 and 4,000, there are videos here for example talking about how amla is the most abundant source of antioxidants aside from triphala (which is contaminated heavily with toxic metals) and two berries that I think both start with b that you can’t find in stores or even online for purchase. But also what about cloves, turmeric, black beans, red lentils, broccoli, kale, red cabbage, etc. etc… That is simply not true based on other videos on this site. Maybe you mean many other common foods eaten in the western world? e.g. corn, wheat, animal products, etc…




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  19. Great blog right here! Additionally your website quite a
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  20. Dr. Greger, I have been exploring your videos lately, and they are incredibly helpful for making healthy lifestyle decisions. Especially the videos with graphic illustrations help me understand quantitatively the relative benefits and detriments of certain nutrition. Thank you for sharing these studies with us.




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  21. I don’t understand how you arrive at such an extremely high figure for Goji berries when the source you cite lists them at no more than 3290 umol TE/100g (= pretty close to 1 cup / 4oz). Are we looking at the same datapoint (“Goji berry (wolfberry), raw”) at all? Going by the number in the source, they have similar antioxidant content to apples.




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