Antioxidant Superstars: Vegetables and Beans
Beans and a host of vegetables top the list of antioxidant-rich foods
The Antioxidant Winner: Beans continued...
One-third cup of cooked beans has 80 calories, no cholesterol, lots of
complex carbohydrates, and little fat. In addition, beans are full of B
vitamins, potassium, and fiber, which promote digestive health and relieve
constipation. Eating beans may help prevent colon cancer and reduce blood
cholesterol, a leading cause of heart disease, researchers say.
Beans are also a great protein source, says Cindy Moore, MS, RD, director of
nutrition therapy at The Cleveland Clinic, and spokeswoman for the American
Dietetic Association. "We used to say that you needed to eat grains with
beans to make it a complete protein, but we no longer think that's true,"
she tells WebMD. "If you get some grains sometime during the day, you'll
get the benefit of complete protein."
If beans bother your digestive system, try canned beans, she adds. Also,
there's Beano, an enzyme supplement that breaks down gas-producing substances
in the beans. Drinking more fluids also helps, as does regular exercise. Both
help your intestinal system handle the increased dietary fiber.
"To sneak beans into your diet, one really easy thing is to put them in
vegetable salads," Moore says. "If you're into convenience, mix some
canned beans with canned soup or with a frozen entrée. You don't have to use
all the beans in the can. Just scoop out what you want, rinse them, and keep
the rest in the canned juice." Frozen beans work well, too.
Among the other non-bean antioxidant stars Prior's research uncovered
- Steamed artichoke hearts (7,904)
- Baked russet potatoes (4,649)
- Raw spinach (1,056)
- Baked sweet potatoes (1,199)
- Eggplant (1,039)
For a sample of what happens during cooking, note how the antioxidant levels
change for some foods:
- Raw asparagus (2,021), steamed asparagus (1,480)
- Raw red cabbage (788), cooked red cabbage (2,350),
- Raw yellow onions (823), cooked yellow onions (1,281)
- Raw broccoli (700), cooked broccoli (982)
- Raw tomatoes (552), cooked tomatoes (415)
Artichoke hearts are available in cans and jars, and are great in salads.
"Some of the tastiest ones are loaded with oil, which means you get lots of
fat and calories," Moore points out. "So just use a little. You don't
have to have the entire jar. Think small, maybe one or two artichoke hearts,
since they're so packed with antioxidants." Using canned artichokes in
water or frozen, precooked artichoke hearts will help you rein in the extra
calories, she adds.
To get more spinach in your diet, add chopped fresh spinach or frozen
spinach to soups. Use fresh spinach in sandwiches instead of lettuce. Or make a
pesto from spinach and walnuts, Moore suggests.
But don't stop with these star veggies, Moore advises. "Don't overlook
all the others, with all their own special benefits. Each has its own unique
nutritional footprint. Some have more fiber or different arrays of vitamins and
minerals. By mixing them up, you're going to enhance what you're getting