Antioxidant Foods: Coffee and Dark Chocolate Good for You?

It is true. These unseemly staples of daily eating are antioxidant foods that are actually good for you.  Along with teas, especially green teas and many delicious fruits, vegetables, herbs and spices. Consider the exquisite Cinnamon for example. Or Pepper and Chili.  Ginger and Turmeric. Not only are these high in antioxidant foods but they are anti-inflammatory and each have many other health benefits.

If you find the whole healthy-eating issue too daunting and you manage to do nothing else to improve your eating habits just make sure your diet is rich with a wide variety of antioxidant foods. And variety is the key to tapping into the power of antioxidants. Taking antioxidant supplements while maintaining a diet of highly processed junk food is a waste a time and money. To get the most out of antioxidants and other nutritious components you need to get a good cross section of antioxidant foods including fresh fruits and vegetables, nuts, grains, legumes, and spices.

The Antioxidant is in the Color!

You can usually rely on the bright color of any plant-based foods as an indication of the presence of valuable antioxidants. It is the antioxidant components that give fruits, vegetables, beans, herbs and spices their bright colors. The flavonoid anthocyanidins are responsible for the blue pigment of blueberries, the red of raspberries, the purple of grapes.

To get a variety of antioxidants incorporate delicious dried berries or organic dark chocolate in your diet.

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Learn more about about the specific benefits of other antioxidant foods.

Why Are Antioxidant Foods So Important?

Antioxidant foods protect your cells against damage that is caused by free radical scavengers. Free radicals serve a natural purpose. By stealing electrons, they inflict damage on certain compounds found in your body. This process of oxidation results in the destruction of cells. This is a good thing when it kills the cells of viruses, bacteria and other harmful substances that invade your body through drugs or pollution. But when your body has an over supply of free radicals they begin to damage the cells of good tissue leading to cancer, heart ailments and other diseases.

Antioxidants operate to neutralize free radicals enabling your body to simply eliminate them. Ultimately when an excess of free radicals exists for a prolonged period of time inflammation begins to occur. Dr Andrew Weil, a leading authority on integrated medicine constantly writes about the need to eliminate inflammation because more and more research indicates that it is the leading cause of disease. A diet rich in antioxidant foods will help prevent chronic inflammation and the diseases that follow it.

It is Easy to Eat a Diet Rich in Antioxidant Foods

You don't have to eat special or expensive food just healthy food.  Not only is it easy to incorporate a variety of healthy antioxidant foods into you diet it but it makes eating more interesting. With plenty of variety, the following table of the top 20 antioxidant foods will kick you off to a more healthy diet.

[ORAC* units per Serving]
Small Red Bean** 1/2 cup 13,727 Strawberry 1 cup 5,938
Wild Blueberry 1 cup 13,427 Red Delicious Apple 1 whole 5,900
Red Kidney Bean** 1/2 cup 13,259 Granny Smith Apple 1 whole 5,381
Pinto Bean 1/2 cup 11,864 Pecan 1 ounce 5,095
Blueberry (cultivated) 1 cup   9,019 Sweet Cherry 1 cup 4,873
Cranberry 1 cup   8,983 Black Plum 1 whole 4,844
Artichoke Hearts (cooked) 1 cup   7,904 Russet Potato (cooked)
1 whole 4,649
Blackberry (cultivated) 1 cup   7,701 Black bean** 1/2 cup 4,181
Prune 1/2 cup   7,291 Plum 1 whole 4,118
Raspberry 1 cup   6,058 Gala Apple 1 whole 3,903

*Oxygen Radical Absorbance Capacity   ** dried

Source: Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry, 9th ed., June 2005

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