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Which Antioxidant-Rich Fruits and Vegetables Should You Be Eating?

Researchers at the Human Nutrition Research Center on Aging at Tufts University measured various fruits and vegetables for their ORAC (oxygen radical absorbance capacity), or their antioxidant power. Which pack the most powerful antioxidant punch?

Get the most bang for your produce bucks

Let's face it, fruits and veggies can be a little pricey—plus they tend to go bad in a hurry. If you want to spend wisely, aim for the most concentrated sources of antioxidants—which you can now identify thanks to food scientists at the Human Nutrition Research Center on Aging at Tufts University. Take this list with you to the grocery store.  

bowl of dried prunes with two black plumsiStock/dionisvero

Prunes

Black plums have 4873 total antioxidants, according to a study in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry. (Those magical molecules that can help prevent a host of maladies.) Their dried counterpart, prunes, pack 7291 into just half a cup. Prunes can also help boost bone strength, so eat up!

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Raisins

Similarly, red grapes have 2016 total antioxidants per serving, and raisins contain 2490. Raisins can also help stop your junk food cravings too, thanks to this one crazy trick!

blueberries in a bowl Chursina Viktoriia/Shutterstock

Blueberries

Blueberries have more antioxidants than 40 other common fruits and vegetables. Eating one cup of wild blueberries will provide 13,427 total antioxidants, about 10 times the USDA's recommendation. The farmed variety will give you 9019 per cup. There's a reason blueberries are one of the healthiest fruits you can eat.

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Blackberries

Blackberries are rich in antioxidants, but you should also know that they're packed with polyols, the main component in sugar substitutes (which are often blamed for abdominal issues such as gas). These other healthy foods can cause gas as well.

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Strawberries

Like blueberries and raspberries, strawberries are high in antioxidants, which protect healthy cells from many cancers. Here are 10 more reasons you should be eating more strawberries.

red raspberriesistock/Olga_Gavrilova

Raspberries

Make your portion more powerful: A study in the Journal of Nutrition determined that the anti­oxidant ellagic acid (found in raspberries, pomegranates, walnuts, and cranberries) enhanced the ability of quercetin (an antioxidant found in apples, grapes, onions, and buckwheat) to kill off cancerous cells. Here are some other foods that can help fight cancer.

fresh plums

Plums

Pick the black kind to get 4844 antioxidants per serving. Dried plums (prunes) offer slightly more.

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Oranges

Oranges, along with mangos, peaches, and watermelon, are rich in beta-cryptoxanthin, an antioxidant and one of a pair of compounds that lowered the risk of arthritis by an impressive 20 to 40 percent in a UK study of 25,000 people.

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Red Grapes

Enjoy this healthy, low-calorie snack: You can eat 20 red seedless grapes and still consume only 100 calories. Try these other delicious hundred-calorie snacks as well.

bowl of red cherriesShulevskyy-Volodymyr/Shutterstock

Cherries

Juicy and tart Montmorency cherries are your best source of the antioxidant melatonin. Other cherries have it, too, but Montmorency has the most. Melatonin protects the skin against ultraviolet radiation. Researchers have discovered that this powerful little nutrient also helps repair sunburned skin since it stimulates new skin-cell growth. Cherries are also packed with vitamin C, which is needed to build collagen—your skin’s natural “scaffolding” and a wrinkle preventer. While you're chomping on cherries, make sure you avoid these everyday habits that cause wrinkles.

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Kale

Rich in cancer-fighting antioxidants and vitamins, kale is also a good source of beta-carotene and is a top combo of both lutein and zeaxanthin. Here are a few more reasons to eat lots of kale.

Closeup of fresh organic spinach leavesRawpixel.com/Shutterstock

Spinach

Spinach is packed with carotenoids—antioxidants that promote healthy eyes and help prevent macular degeneration, the leading cause of blindness in older people. Try these simple ways to sneak more spinach into your diet.

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Brussels sprouts

These broccoli cousins have plenty of bitter sulforaphane as well as compounds called isothiocyanates, which detoxify cancer-causing substances in the body before they can do their dirty work. In one Dutch study, guys who ate Brussels sprouts daily for three weeks had 28 percent less genetic damage (gene damage is a root cause of cancer) than those who didn’t eat sprouts.

Heap of sprouted alfalfa seeds on a dsrk stone backgroundSerghei Starus/Shutterstock

Alfalfa Sprouts

These tiny powerhouses are rich in beta-carotene, an antioxidant that protects against lung cancer and helps maintain healthy skin, hair, nails, gums, glands, bones, and teeth. It's also a good source of vitamin E, which may help prevent heart attacks, strokes, and lower the risk of death from bladder cancer. Here are the things every woman should know about bladder cancer.

heads of broccolis derevianko/shutterstock

Broccoli flowers

Broccoli is full of cancer-fighting antioxidants. A 2018 study in Molecular Nutrition & Food Research found men who ate 5 servings or more per week of cruciferous veggies like broccoli were half as likely to develop bladder cancers over a 10-year period as men who rarely ate them. Here are some more foods that are even healthier than you realized.

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Beets

Beets are packed with healthy nutrients, like five essential vitamins, calcium, iron, potassium, and protein. Learn more about the amazing health benefits of beets.

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Red bell peppers

One medium pepper is light on calories (only 32!) but heavy on vitamin C, providing more than 150 percent of your recommended daily value and warding off atherosclerosis, which can lead to heart disease. Watch for the signs that you might be running low on vitamin C.

Raw Organic Yellow Sweet Onions Ready to CookBrent Hofacker/Shutterstock

Onions

You'll get the most out of this veggie's cancer-fighting antioxidants by eating it raw; cooking onions at a high heat significantly reduces the benefits of phytochemicals that protect against lung and prostate cancer. And if you're going to choose a certain type of onion, make it this one!

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Corn

A study in the Journal of Agricultural Food and Chemistry found that the longer corn was cooked, the higher the level of antioxidants like lutein, which combats blindness in older adults. While you're cooking your corn, try this other simple hack to make it taste better.

Fresh raw Purple Eggplant in a special wicker basket for Eggplant on gray wooden background. Top view, blank space.Sergey Fatin/Shutterstock

Eggplant

All types of eggplant are rich in bitter chlorogenic acid, which protects against the buildup of heart-threatening plaque in artery walls (and fights cancer, too!). Eggplant can help lower cholesterol and relax artery walls, which can cut your risk of high blood pressure. Here are some more foods that can help lower your blood pressure.

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