Antioxidant Superstars: Vegetables and Beans

Beans and a host of vegetables top the list of antioxidant-rich foods

By Jeanie Lerche Davis
WebMD Weight Loss Clinic - Feature

Reviewed By Charlotte E. Grayson, MD

The lowly bean has been boosted to star status. A ground-breaking study that looked at numerous foods says beans -- red, black, pinto, kidney -- are high-octane sources of antioxidants.

Antioxidants are the disease-fighting compounds that Mother Nature puts in foods to help our bodies stay healthy, explains researcher Jeffrey Blumberg, PhD, professor of nutrition at Tufts University in Boston. "Our job is to take advantage of those antioxidants."

The USDA guidelines recommend eating a variety of fruits and vegetables each day, selecting from all five vegetable subgroups: dark green vegetables, legumes (beans), starchy vegetables, orange vegetables, and other vegetables. They also suggest eating at least two and a half cups of vegetables daily for people eating 2,000 calories.

Which of these are the best antioxidant foods? Researchers used advanced technology to study 100 fruits, vegetables, and other food sources to measure the levels of antioxidants. Beans were the clear winners, but so was a quirky mix of other veggies -- artichoke hearts, russet potatoes, sweet potatoes, spinach, and eggplant.

Knowing which foods have the most antioxidants is important, because in today's polluted world, the human body needs all the help it can get to fight disease-causing free radicals. That's what antioxidants do -- stop free radicals from damaging other cells in your body.