August 12, 2004
Because of the growing interest in antioxidants, two scientific institutions under the American Ministry of Agriculture have prepaired the first extensive table of antioxidants in the diet.
The growing interest in antioxidants has made two scientific institutions under the American Ministry of Agriculture compile the first comprehensive table of the antioxidant content of food.
The reason for this is the increasing belief in antioxidants protecting against atherosclerosis, cancer, Parkinson’s disease, Alzheimer’s disease, old age blindness – and for that matter ageing in general. The latest news is that people who develop oesophageal and gastric cancer generally get significantly less dietary antioxidants than others.
The new table has required an enormous amount of laboratory work and comprises 100 foodstuffs from the vegetable kingdom which, as we know, are the main source of dietary antioxidants. Not only does it show which foodstuffs contain the most antioxidants, it also points out the one with the fewest antioxidants. The type of antioxidants (vitamin E or -C, phenols, carotenoids) is not specified – only the total effect.
Among berries and fruits, the most antioxidants can be found in cranberry, blackcurrants, raspberry, red apples, prunes, and plums. By contrast, bananas, kiwis, mangoes, watermelons, and pineapples are quite poor sources.
In the vegetable group, artichoke is number one, but also dried beans, onions, cabbage, peppers, spinach, and boiled potatoes are good sources of antioxidants, while salad (particularly Iceberg salad), green peas, and raw tomatoes contain significantly less antioxidants. At the bottom is cucumbers with a very low content of antioxidants.
90% of the antioxidants are water-soluble while the rest are fat-soluble and have other properties. It is difficult to get enough of these through the diet but they are present in nuts, oatmeal, avocadoes, broccoli, and artichokes.
Incredibly rich sources of fat-soluble vitamins are the spices cinnamon and (particularly) clove, followed by oregano and basil quite a way down the list. Even small amounts of these spices can have important effects. Chocolate also provides a decent supplement.
Compared to vegetables, berry, fruits, and nuts, cereals such as cornflakes and white bread contain only few antioxidants. People who live on a diet of bread and meat without many spices, who have a traditional breakfast, rarely get other kinds of fruits than bananas, and stick to Iceberg salad with cucumber and tomato will not get many dietary antioxidants!
By: Vitality Council
Xainli Wu, Gary R Beecher, Joanne Holden et al. Lipophilic and hydrophilic antioxidant capacities of common foods in the United States. J Agric. Food Chem. 2004;52:4026-37.