All the latest research is showing that eating food high in antioxidants is good for your body and brain. Except for nuts, fruits and vegetables are the other most reliable source of antioxidants in nature and are especially important at this transitional time of the year, when our bodies are preparing for the long cold winter months.
Antioxidants help your body get rid of free radicals that can otherwise damage healthy living cells. Since free radicals are produced by a wide variety of sources including alcohol, smoking, fat, meat, stress, food preservatives, pollution, etc. they are almost impossible to avoid.
But here come antioxidants which have the ability to bind those free radicals in your body and prevent them from doing further damage like aging, heart disease and cancer. They also play a beneficial role in reducing cholesterol levels and increasing energy. Antioxidants are believed to repair and help prevent oxidative stress which damages cells and causes disease.
Here is a list of the ten best fruits rich in antioxidants that you need to include in your diet. The list is arranged according to their ORAC (Oxygen Radical Absorbance Capacity) value per 100 g (3 1/2 ounces). The higher the value, the more antioxidants they contain.
(ORAC value per 3 1/2 ounces 5,770)
Prunes are dried plums. During the drying process the antioxidants concentrate and reach a level about 5 times higher than that of fresh plums. The drying process also concentrates the sugar, which is why prunes taste so much sweeter than plums. You can dry them yourself by cutting plums in half, throwing the stone away and leaving them to dry naturally over a period of several days in a dry place far from the reach of sun.
(ORAC value per 3 1/2 ounces 5,347)
Blackberries ripen in the summer. The wild ones have more antioxidants than the cultivated ones, but either has high nutritional value. Blackberries rank highly among fruits for antioxidant strength, particularly due to their dense contents of polyphenolic compounds, such as ellagic acid, tannins, ellagitannins, quercetin, gallic acid, anthocyanins and cyanidins and have been known for their anti-inflammatory properties and beneficial effects on the cardiovascular system.
(ORAC value per 3 1/2 ounces 3,307)
Antioxidants in pomegranates include similar polyphenols to blackberries, such as tannins and anthocyanins. If you find eating the fruit too much work you can make use of its juice! The antioxidants in pomegranate have proved to help reduce the damages done by cholesterol and reduce plaque that has already built up in blood vessels.
(ORAC value per 3 1/2 ounces 2,830)
Both grapes and raisins are a powerful source of energy and fiber but raisins have higher levels of the antiaging component selenium. Raisins are easy to eat, tasty, naturally sweet and almost never go bad. Like other dried fruits, raisins are available throughout the year. The phenols found in them have repeatedly shown to have antioxidant activity and to help prevent oxygen-based damage to cells in the body.
(ORAC value per 3 1/2 ounces 2,400)
Blueberries are the second most popular type of berries after strawberries in the U.S., having one of the highest antioxidant capacities among all fruits, vegetables, spices and seasonings. Just like blackberries, wild blueberries contain more antioxidants than cultivated ones, but either is a great choice. Blueberries can improve memory and help prevent oxidative and inflammatory stress to red blood cells and vessels.
(ORAC value per 3 1/2 ounces 1,750)
Eating whole cranberries is considerably better for protecting your cardiovascular system and liver compared to purified cranberry extracts. It is the synergy among cranberry nutrients rather than individual cranberry components that is responsible for cranberry’s health benefits. This synergy is only found in the whole berry as consumed in food form. This rule about whole dietary intake appears to apply to the antioxidant benefits, anti-inflammatory benefits, and anti-cancer benefits of cranberry. Although cranberries are typically eaten just around the Thanksgiving and Christmas holidays you can incorporate them into your diet throughout the year to get an antioxidant boost.
(ORAC value per 3 1/2 ounces 1,540)
This fragile and delicate summertime fruit is also very good for you. surprisingly fragile, perishable, and delicate fruit. You have to be careful with strawberry storage though, because more storage time brings along with it substantially more nutrient lost. Studies show 2 days as the maximal time for storing strawberries without major loss of vitamin C and polyphenol antioxidants.
(ORAC value per 3 1/2 ounces 1,220)
Raspberriesare a favorite for many dessert recipes. They contain vitamin C and anthocanines. Approximately 50% of the antioxidant effect of raspberries is caused by ellagitannins which are to be found in only one other fruit – the strawberry. Raspberries help prevent unwanted damage to cell membranes and other structures in the body by neutralizing free radicals.
(ORAC value per 3 1/2 ounces 949)
Plums are particularly effective in preventing oxygen-based damage to fats, such as the fats that comprise a substantial portion of our brain cells or neurons, the cholesterol and triglycerides circulating in our bloodstream, or the fats that make up our cell membranes. It is important not to peel your plums and eat the skin because that is where many of the antioxidants are.
(ORAC value per 3 1/2 ounces 750)
Usually the more colorful the fruits, such as the deep orange, yellow, green, red, and purple varieties, the richer in antioxidants. According to recent research drinking orange juice is the best way to take in all the antioxidants and nutrients from the tasty fruit.
Antioxidant foods are so important to our diets because, in addition to being loaded with nutrients and vitamins, antioxidants neutralize free radicals produced in our bodies thus successfully controlling aging and and serious illnesses. Once you increase your daily intake of fruits with high levels of antioxidants, you will start deliberately helping your body live longer and stay healthier!