Thursday, January 25, 2007

What are Your Antioxidant Levels?

Mine are at 31,000. Does that sound impressive? Well, I found out they should be at 50,000 to 100,000. Of course, the company who sponsored the screening will let me pay big bucks to up those numbers by buying their product. (I'm considering it, although I don't get into taking lots of pills to "make me healthier.")

I found all of this out at my children's school's science fair. It was obvious that the child with this particular project didn't do most of the thinking for the event; nevertheless, I found the information interesting, so I stuck around.

I was interested in the foods that provide the most antioxidants, and thought you might be, too.

* Oxygen Radical Absorbance Capacity (ORAC units per 100 grams) in parentheses (I sound smart, huh? I found these numbers here.)

Prunes (5770)
Raisins (2830)
Blueberries (2400)
Blackberries (2036)
Strawberries (1540)
Raspberries (1220)
Plums (949)
Oranges (750)
Red Grapes (739)
Cherries (670)

Kale -- anyone know a good way to use this? (1770)
Spinach (1260)
Brussel Sprouts (980)
Alfalfa Sprouts (980)
Broccoli Florets (930)
Beets (890)
Red Bell Peppers (840)
Onions (710)
Corn (that one surprised me) (450)
Eggplant (390)

The display provided a list of other foods, but the link didn't work. That list included kidney and pinto beans as well. (Whooda thunk?) I've heard that chocolate is a good source of antioxidants (Hershey must love that research), so I'm including chocolate on my list of things to eat more of! (Waha.) I'm thinking of trying to infuse our diet with a few more of these things and getting my "levels" tested in a month or two. Or I suppose I could save the hassle and just buy the pills.... :) ( I sense an experiment of my own in the making....?)

(UPDATE: Chocolate (oh, baby) tops the list of ORAC units at 13120 for dark and 6,740 for milk. Wahoo!)

Source for these data: U.S. Department of Agriculture and the Journal of the American Chemical Society.

p.s. 'Nother update: This site has more foods listed, and, interestingly, some beat the ones above. So here's Web MD's view on this topic. (I was told last nite that not all antioxidants are created equal; some are more fundamental than others.?? I'm no expert, and always a bit skeptical when there is a product hiding behind someone's motives, so I'll go with the list for some good info for now.)

Small Red Bean (dried), Half cup (13727)
Wild blueberry, 1 cup (13427)
Red kidney bean (dried), Half cup (13259) (Well, chocolate still comes in pretty high!)
Pinto bean, Half cup (11864)
Blueberry (cultivated), 1 cup (9019)
Cranberry, 1 cup (whole), 8983
Artichoke (cooked), 1 cup (hearts) (7904)
Blackberry, 1 cup, 7701
Dried Prune, Half cup (7291)
Raspberry, 1 cup (6058)
Strawberry, 1 cup (5938)
Red Delicious apple, One (5900)
Granny Smith apple, One (5381)
Pecan, 1 ounce (5095)
Sweet cherry, 1 cup (4873)
Black plum, One (4844)
Russet potato (cooked), One (4649)
Black bean (dried), Half cup (4181)
Plum, One (4118)
Gala apple, One (3903)

So, there you go. I think it's interesting to see the comparative numbers, and to think of ways to use a variety of foods to increase antioxidant levels. Of course, foods not on this list have their own value as well (like whole grains, or bananas). Gotta love reinforcement for a balanced, Word-of-Wisdom consistent diet. :)


  1. I like to substitute kale for other greens in soups because kale doesn't wilt like most other greens.

  2. Thanks, Amira. I guess I'm confused, though...don't all greens wilt when cooked? Or am I understanding you correctly...that somehow it maintains some degree of "fresh"ness? I will need to try this....

  3. m&m

    Interestingly I am just in the process of re-examining what I am eating, and altering my diet. So this adds another aspect to this. What is more is a naturopath friend of mine has recently been connecting me to a machine to reduce radicals in the blood. So this is something for me to go and chew on (ha ha).

  4. OK, so tonite I made a taco-like filling for our tortillas....kidney beans ( of the list item!); tomatoes (I know these aren't on the list, but they are touted as healthy antioxidant-wise in some circles); corn; and spinach! Woohoo! I feel my levels rising even as I type.... :)

  5. Curly kale takes a lot longer to wilt than any other green I've used- like five minutes instead of a few seconds. I add it near the end of cooking so it stays much fresher-looking.

  6. Amira,
    Thank you for responding back! I'm pretty ignorant about a lot of these less common types of foods. Glad there are people who aren't! :)

  7. M & M, thanks for sharing this info. I didn't know a person could keep track of antioxidants! This is useful to learn. And, Amira, thanks for the info about kale--I didn't know that either.