So you’ve made the decision to eat a better diet, which means eating less fast food and adding more fruits and vegetables to your diet. Congratulations! In addition to weight-management benefits, many fruits and vegetables are loaded with powerful antioxidants, which can help your body fight the stresses of oxidation that have been linked to cancer, heart disease, Alzheimer’s and even aging itself. Chances are you’ve seen a story or two on so-called “super foods,” with foods such as red kidney beans, blueberries and tomatoes. One caveat that is rarely mentioned — much of the antioxidant power of these foods occurs only in their raw form. That’s not so much a problem with blueberries (delicious raw), but very problematic with red kidney beans (not edible raw).
Here are five food types ranked according to their antioxidant power, based on a database maintained by the United States Department of Agriculture. You’ll find no mention of raw foods that you don’t eat, and no rare foods (elderberries, chokeberries, etc.) that are never available at your local grocer. Instead, here are five readily available foods with tremendous antioxidant powers.