Antioxidants can be gained from both supplements and foods. Food sources are generally believed to be better than supplements, as they contain antioxidants in their most natural form and often provide several different antioxidants in one package. Supplements, on the other hand, provide only one antioxidant at a time with more limited benefits.
While some fruits and vegetables have long been known to contain beneficial antioxidants, new sources are continually being discovered. There may be no single best antioxidant source. People can find several places, however, where you can go to get ample doses of antioxidants.
A 2004 United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) study of antioxidants provided a list of the top 20 fruit, vegetable, and nut sources. On this list, the best antioxidant source was small red beans followed by wild blueberries, red kidney beans, pinto beans, and cultivated blueberries. Rounding out the top ten were cranberries, artichokes, blackberries, prunes, and raspberries.
Also in the top 20 were red delicious, gala, and granny smith apples. Both plums and black plums made the list as did strawberries and sweet cherries. Russet potatoes and black beans were each identified as a good antioxidant source. Pecans were the only nut to make the cut.
The best antioxidant source may also depend on the specific antioxidant that one is interested in. Beta-carotene can be found in orange fruits and vegetables such as carrots, apricots, mangos, and pumpkins. Lycopene is most commonly found in tomatoes. Spinach, collard greens, and other leafy green vegetables provide lutein.
Vitamins A, C, and E are antioxidants as well. These vitamins are often found in foods other than fruits and vegetables. Milk and egg yolks contain Vitamin A. Beef, poultry, and fish provide Vitamin C. Safflower oil, corn oil, and soybean oil provide Vitamin E.
For a drinkable choice, green tea may be the best antioxidant source. Green tea is purported to help fight Parkinson’s disease and lung cancer. It can also help to slow metabolism and thus aid in weight loss. Those with a sweet tooth will be happy to find that dark chocolate is an antioxidant source as well.
In a general sense, providing your body with a wide range of antioxidants will help keep it healthy by increasing its ability to fight disease. While the body will naturally produce many antioxidants, foods provide an important supplemental source. Ample amounts of antioxidants are believed to help fight a variety of diseases including heart disease, cancer, and osteoarthritis.