Berries are the top antioxidant-rich fruits. But don't forget peaches, plums, and a little red wine
By Jeanie Lerche Davis
Reviewed By Charlotte E. Grayson, MD
Berries are the crown jewels of summer, the gems that inspire pies, parfaits, cobblers, ice cream treats, and whipped cream wonders. Best of all, berries deliver super-healthy antioxidants that help fight disease. How healthy? A landmark study shows that just one cup of berries provides all the disease-fighting antioxidants you need in a single day. Of course, dietitians will tell you, "Don't stop there." A healthy diet needs a variety of nutrients from many food sources.
Raspberries, blueberries, strawberries, and blackberries are plentiful in most corners of the U.S. "Berries are available almost year-round now and even though they may be more expensive some times of the year, they're still much more accessible than they used to be," says Cindy Moore, MS, RD, spokeswoman for the American Dietetic Association and director of nutrition therapy at The Cleveland Clinic.
Berries and other foods figured in a major study published in the June 9, 2004, Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry. This research provides the largest, most comprehensive report thus far of antioxidant content in fruits and vegetables. Berries won, hands down, in providing the most antioxidant bang for the buck.
Antioxidants are important disease-fighting compounds. Scientists believe they help prevent and repair the stress that comes from oxidation, a natural process that occurs during normal cell function. A small percentage of cells becomes damaged during oxidation and turns into free radicals, which can start a chain reaction to harming more cells and possibly disease. Unchecked free radical activity has been linked to cancer, heart disease, Alzheimer's disease, and Parkinson's disease.