So what’s better.. noni, bluberry or acai? Which one is worth your hard earned bucks? If you are convinced that blueberry has top antioxidant power you need to immediately flip to the page: forget about blueberries!
Lack of antioxidants leads to oxidation, which is nothing to be happy about. Oxidative damage speeds up aging which means getting wrinkled, growing sun spots and cellulite sooner.
Antioxidants in food
Antioxidants do not only come from supplements, but they are also present in foods. Blueberries, green peppers and tomatoes are examples of commonly available antioxidant foods. But if you are bored with local produce you can check out high antioxidant foods in the exotic aisle. You will find some well-recognized names there. Among them expect noni, goji, and acai. You may be tempted to fork out a few extra bucks for those, but are they worth it?
- Don’t spent your money on almond milk either!
- Did you give in to low cholesterol diet scam?
- Are you giving your kids heaps of sugar?
As you may expect, every distributor claims their product to be more superior than the next. Business owners attach high values to their brands and media carries on with a hype pointing out the unique and special benefits of certain foods. Tomatoes are known to benefit the prostate, cranberry juice aids with urinary track infections and carrots are good for the eyes. There is a lot of information out there, but there is also lots of confusion, which does not help you.
Which one is better red or white?
As a consumer you still scratch your head: “is red wine better than white wine”, “is orange juice any good”, “which one has more antioxidants noni or acai”? Ponder no more. Here is an extensive list of foods worthy of your dollar.
Antioxidants are measured in ORAC numbers. ORAC describes an antioxidant power of a specific food. It indicates how many oxygen vandals can a specific food take on and destroy. High number is good. A healthy person should have about 30,000 ORACs a day for health maintenance. A person with compromised health should aim for about 60,000.
Since ORAC is always given for 100 grams of food. This way it is easy to compare food to food in its vandal scavenging abilities. Let’s see those numbers and start with blueberries for the sake of a reference number (since you are a blueberry fanatic).
Cultivated blueberries have an ORAC value of 4,667. That’s a relatively good number, but let’s see how other foods stack up. Remember, whatever is higher is better then blueberries.
Making antioxidant desserts
Do you like dark chocolate? The ORAC value for dry cocoa powder is 55,653.
Can you see what I see? That’s ten time of blueberries! Dark chocolate, which is mostly cocoa powder, literally leaves blueberries in the dust.
This is how I make the most out of your berries. Try it yourself. Add whipping cream and cocoa powder on top! While you are at it, add some natural vanilla extract and cinnamon for added flavor and yet another boost of antioxidants. Do not be surprised but that yummy topping alone may be worth more ORACs than blueberries themselves.
You think cucumbers are healthy? Think again. ORAC for this vegetable is only 140. A slice of bread beats it tenfold.
Red wine or white wine
What about wine? Some may regard red wine as the longevity elixir. But if you look at the ORAC value closely, red table wine carries as much benefits as just one apple! From the antioxidant perspective whether you drink red wine (ORAC 3,607) or bite into a Granny Smith (ORAC 3,898) makes no difference.
Do not even bother with apple juice. The commercially bottled variety has an ORAC value of only 414. You would be better off with cucumbers, especially due to the far reduced sugar content. White wine? Forget about it, it is even less beneficial than canned apple juice at an ORAC value of only 392.
Is there a difference between white and green asparagus? You bet! Raw white asparagus is only 296, but boiled green asparagus is as high as 1,644.
Is bread an antioxidant?
Surprise! At 1,421 per 100g multi-grain slices are better than raw cabbage at 529.
Would you want to turbo-charge your bread slice? How about chocolate syrup with an ORAC value of 6,330. Bread with chocolate syrup? Since when is that a health food? Well, it isn’t.
Despite high ORAC values we do not recommend it, as the amount of easily digestible sugar counters any benefit. Yet this may explain why some people eat junk and don’t seem to suffer ill effects from it, at least initially.
Cheap local or expensive exotic?
Exotic taste with a big wallet? Then think goji berries. With goji berries you will be eating the equivalent of local berries in ORAC value. But even if your wallet is on a thinner side you shouldn’t feel ORAC deprived. Your local blueberries at 3,290 match goji berries in their vandal destroying abilities.
Here is even better news for extra thin wallets. Stack up on ginger! With an amazing ORAC value of 14,840, ginger root is an inexpensive grocery store winner.
Don’t give up on all of the exotic varieties yet. When you paycheck comes in, head to an acai aisle. Acai is worth some extra coin. Acai fruit stands high among antioxidant fruits (not diluted juices), with an astounding ORAC value of 102,700. Get top acai.
Are you into juices?
- Lemon (1,225) is better than lime (823)
- Black raspberry juice (10,460) is better than blueberry juice (2,359)
- Blueberry juice (2,359) is better than grape juice (1,788)
And here are best antioxidant choices for nuts:
- pecans (17,940),
- walnuts (13,541),
- hazelnuts (9,645), and
- pistachios (7,675) in that order.
No, no almonds in the first four.
Are salads high in antioxidants?
Here is your final surprise: salads are antioxidant-ly useless. Green lettuce (1,107) with tomatoes (546) and cucumbers (140) may turn out to be the poorest antioxidant choice for healthy food eaters.
Do not be fooled by ORAC of green lettuce. It looks high, but honestly, when was the last time you ate 100 g of the green leaves? Only a ruminant would enjoy that much, as an average salad has less than 30 g of green lettuce. For that puny amount of antioxidants you may as well get the slice of bread instead, or…
This is why I love spices!
… get creative. Spices seem to have consistently the highest ORAC scores. Cloves, cinnamon, oregano, and thyme are just examples of spices with ORAC around 200,000.
Spices add flavor, character and adventure to every dish. We use them for their “Uthing” properties. Make sure to choose quality spices, not just your average shelf cheapo. Get organic. Avoid pre-mixed varieties, as they are full of salt and contain inferior ingredients.
For example, they may contain highly pesticide sprayed peppers, or instead of real flavors they may contain artificial flavor-enhancing additives. That’s like saying goodbye to your antioxidant hopes.
Shift your thinking
I may have shattered your idea of a healthy diet and what the most antioxidant-laden foods are, but that’s on purpose. At least now you know that when it comes to antioxidant power there is more of it in chocolate syrup covered bread than on your staple lunch salad.
I hope that this surprising fact made you think and that from now on, instead of following media hype and attention seeking yet confused “experts”, you will be more willing to check sources and evaluate information more critically. Enjoy your life, but don`t fall for nonsense. Be healthy, not fashionable.
My final three cents on antioxidants: studies show that microwaving food (the study was done on broccoli) removes 80-90% of antioxidants. In comparison, boiling removes only 0-11%. Reorganize your kitchen. Do what`s smart, not convenient.
For more nutritional wisdom head to: