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Food Showdown: Which Berry is Higher in Antioxidants?

By: , SparkPeople Blogger
6/2/2012 10:00 AM   :  20 comments   :  29,582 Views

By now, you've probably heard about antioxidants, the wonder molecules that may help prevent cancer and other chronic diseases. In recent years, many exotic, antioxidant-rich foods like goji berries, mangosteen, and acai have cropped up in the media and have sparked a lot of conversation. However, there hasn't been significant research to back up the hype for these foods, and it's easy for advertisers to make false claims and charge an exorbitant amount of money for them.

Instead of shelling out mega bucks for these crazy fruits and supplements, why not stick to what you know? After all, you can find an abundance of antioxidant-rich foods right in the produce section of your grocery store—without the sky-high prices or unfounded claims.

We know that berries are good for you, but are some better than others when it comes to antioxidant content? If you had to choose between common blueberries and blackberries, both touted as vitamin-rich cancer-fighters, which one would you guess has the highest antioxidant content?

The Winner: Inconclusive!

In 2004, the USDA published a list of Top 20 Antioxidant-Rich Foods. According to that list, cultivated blueberries came in fifth place (wild blueberries came in second place) and blackberries weighed in as the eighth best choice. Other items that made the list included small red beans (at number one), artichokes, Russet potatoes, pecans, pinto beans, black beans, and apples. However, this list was taken down; the USDA has recently issued a statement that the Oxygen Radical Absorbance Capacity (ORAC) scale, which was used to calculate the antioxidant capacity of foods, is not as accurate as it was once thought to be. Science is still working to understand how antioxidants react in the body, so the USDA has opted not to make a definitive list of the most antioxidant-rich foods just yet.


The bottom line? Start focusing on the big picture. Antioxidant content is just one way of measuring how healthy a food is. All whole foods contain high amounts of vitamins, minerals, phytochemicals, and a slew of other components that work together to provide us with high-quality nutrition. Just because you don't eat pounds of goji berries doesn't mean you're not healthy. And even if one fruit is lower in antioxidants than another, it still has other benefits that will nourish your body. We've said it before, and we'll say it again: It's all about variety, moderation, and balance. When you load up on a wide variety of fruits, vegetables, lean protein and whole grains, you're bound to consume an adequate amount of nutrients for good health, including those coveted antioxidants. Skip the marketing claims and fancy, expensive supplements and stick with the tried-and-true options from your grocery store or farmers market.

Need a spark to get you started? ''The next time you go shopping, add a few new food items to your list
 for a boost to your health and a treat for your tastebuds," says our Registered Dietitian, Becky Hand. Becky recommends choosing foods from this list for a wide variety of nutrients and flavors.

What's your take on antioxidants? Do you go out of your way to eat ''antioxidant-rich'' foods?
 

Related links:

Does it Really? The Truth about Acai

Study Spills the Secret to Weight Loss--Surprised?

Poll: The 10 Healthiest Foods You've Never Tried



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Comments

  • 20
    Look up on Cooking Light magazine website Anti-Oxidants Reconcidered Aug 2012:
    "There's no longer any reliable way to count them. In May, the USDA pulled the plug on their online nutrient database that measured foods' oxygen radical absorbance capacity (ORAC) scores, essentially leaving antioxidants without an agreed-upon unit of measure—or any way to recommend how much of them we should or shouldn't be getting. "

    - 12/16/2013   5:03:27 PM
  • CHERRYZMB60
    19
    I eat a lot of blueberries and drink oceanspray lite cranberry juice - 12/7/2013   11:50:52 PM
  • ANNMH130
    18
    I alternate drinking rich, dark colored fruit juices for antioxidants. Love Ocean spray
    Cranberry, Blueberry, Cran Raspberry and once there was Blackberry blueberry juice under the OS label. hard to find now! - 6/16/2012   12:09:28 PM
  • 17
    It's crazy how what is good for you and what is not keeps changing!! Whatever!! Thanks SP for helping is keep on top of these changes! - 6/16/2012   8:54:18 AM
  • 1954MARG
    16
    The easiest way to make sure that you are getting a good range of antioxidants in your diet is to eat a variety of fruits and vegetables of different colours. This way you will also get a wide variety of other nutrients too. - 6/8/2012   9:52:25 AM
  • PAULUS11
    15
    Many of the comments and info re Acai berries are amusing to me. I lived in Brazil for five years and have drunk acai juice for the past ten years. First of all, acai is not a weight loss juice and I did not lose weight as a result. However, when I drink the real acai juice, not contaminated nor diluted as many acai juices are (especially the multi-level-marketed junk juice), I not only feel a great deal better, I know that this regimen has helped me considerably. My cholesterol and other blood test results are all optimum. My energy level has increased and my stamina and endurance as well. The key to finding the best acai juice (and other natural juices), is to do as much research as possible and then choose the non-MLM supplier with the best juice and the best reputation. I did so and have achieved amazingly good health (as per my internist), for my age. - 6/6/2012   5:36:10 PM
  • 14
    Your body always knows what it needs!! You don't need to worry about whether you're eating the "right" kind of fruit or vegetable - your cravings will lead you in the direction to what your body is lacking. - 6/6/2012   12:59:59 AM
  • 13
    Love all berries, so getting all the good benefits from them, whatever they may be... - 6/5/2012   8:33:02 AM
  • 12
    I don't necessarily go out of my way to eat food that are supposedly rich in antioxidants, I just try to have a varied diet, and if I see blueberries or other berries, and I'm in the mood for them, I'll buy them. - 6/4/2012   4:02:46 PM
  • 11
    I daily try to have some of these antioxidant rich foods, not because of the antioxidants, but they taste good and I know are good for you. - 6/4/2012   1:39:16 PM
  • 10
    Why can't I save this article??? - 6/3/2012   11:21:14 PM
  • 9
    sat's are my liquid day, but i always add fresh berries to the mix. blueberries, strawberries and if i have one a banana. love the way i feel when the body is not heavy with solid food i only do the liquid one day out of the week, but it helps with the weight loss. - 6/3/2012   12:11:29 PM
  • 8
    I'm a big fan of tart berries -- blackberries are a personal favorite, but I also love cranberries in the fall. Just a few days ago, I happened across locally-grown strawberries and they were amazing! So much firmer and more flavorful than the regular ones! Yum, yum, yum! - 6/3/2012   9:58:54 AM
  • 7
    I do go out of my way to eat these foods......they are always in my kitchen. I am not perfect but I certainly try. - 6/3/2012   8:16:17 AM
  • 6
    my hubby & I eat blueberries,strawberries, raspberries and blackberries daily.
    - 6/3/2012   7:29:59 AM
  • 5
    thanks for the tip. It appears I've been doing ok all along :) - 6/3/2012   6:41:13 AM
  • PARISTASAI
    4
    Which ever one you actually eat. - 6/3/2012   3:27:59 AM
  • 3
    I am and always have been a fan of the blueberry...I would pick them wild with my Grandpa when I was a little girl, and of course eat as many as we took home. I guess they memory has always made them a favorite. Finding out the health benefit was just a bonus. I am going to have to check out those small red beans though. lol - 6/2/2012   8:01:21 PM
  • 2
    Who would have thought small red beans would have come in first place? Interesting article! - 6/2/2012   4:23:51 PM
  • 1
    Nutrition is an ever-evolving science. It is impossible to stay up to date on everything. By eating a balanced diet of primarily whole foods with a focus on produce, we usually get most of what we need. Spending too much time & effort on figuring out the best choice for this, that & the other is just going to frustrate you and create a good excuse to give up. Find balance, eat primarily produce, be active... that pretty much covers it.
    - 6/2/2012   11:52:01 AM

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