Antioxidant Riches Found in Unexpected Foods
Beans, Berries, Spices, and Potatoes Are Antioxidant Powerhouses
Putting Antioxidants in Perspective
Registered dietitian David Grotto says he was amazed to see that unexpected foods, such as beans, potatoes, and artichokes, were so highly ranked by the study.
"With the onslaught of 'no carbs' going on out there, it's nice that we can show that the potato brings more to the table than just carbohydrates," says Grotto, who is director of nutrition at Block Center for Integrative Cancer Care in Evanston, Ill.
"The message here is diverse diet is still optimal," Grotto tells WebMD. "You don't want to be on the all-red-bean diet because it may have the unique set of antioxidants that are attributed to beans, but it may not have many of the antioxidants that you would find in a wild blueberry."
Nor does it mean that you should limit your diet to only the foods that made the study's top 20 list or start popping antioxidant supplements.
"What we're discovering is that we only know about a thimbleful of all the antioxidants that are probably within foods," says Grotto, who is also a spokesman for the American Dietetic Association. "What's unique about eating foods vs. supplements is that there is always more bang for the buck in eating the foods, and you get a lot of those compounds that we really don't fully understand the benefits of yet."
- Grotto recommends the following tips to incorporate more antioxidant-rich foods into your diet:
- Make bean cubes. Process leftover beans with a little vegetable broth in a food processor until it forms a thin paste. Pour into ice cube trays, and then use the frozen cubes to thicken soups and sauces.
- Substitute beans for meats. Most recipes that call for ground or cubed meats, such as stews and casseroles, also work with beans like lentils, chickpeas, or black beans in the starring role.
- Be berry sneaky. Toss a handful of berries on your breakfast cereal or blend them into fruit smoothies for a healthy breakfast or snack.
But don't despair if your favorite food didn't make the list. Antioxidants are only one piece of the healthy eating puzzle.
"Some of those foods that are low in antioxidants may have other positive benefits, such as fiber, minerals, and other nutrients that are important," says Prior.