Antioxidant Rich Foods More Powerful Than Once Thought

June 03, 2015

Our antioxidant rich foods are even healthier than we previously thought –way healthier, according to new research from the University of Granada.

Our antioxidant rich foods are even healthier than we previously thought –way healthier, according to new research published in the journal Food Chemistry. Spanish scientists completed a study that suggests the antioxidant content of some citrus juices may be up to ten times greater than previously believed.

How did they do this? The researchers discovered that a lot more antioxidants were released when they simulated the digestion of the large intestine with a new process called global antioxidant response, or GAR. Previously, researchers only counted antioxidants found while investigating the digestion of the small intestine. Many believed the fiber that reached the large intestine was too dense for any more antioxidants to be extracted.

However, the insoluble fraction arrives at the large intestine and the intestinal bacteria can also ferment it and extract even more antioxidants, which can be assessed with the GAR technology.

According to José Ángel Rufián Henares, professor at the University of Granada, “The antioxidant activity is, on average, ten times higher than that which everyone thought up until now, and not just in juices, but also in any other kind of food analyzed with this methodology,”

So what other foods contain antioxidants? All fruits, veggies and even whole grains contain antioxidants. Here are a few examples of well known antioxidants and the foods that contain them.

Anthocyanins are a natural pigment that help protect the body from aging, degenerative diseases and infections. They are found in blue and purple fruits and vegetables like blueberries, blackberries, eggplant, dried plums and red grapes.

Beta-carotene is converted in the body to the antioxidant vitamin A and found in many foods that are orange in color, including sweet potatoes, carrots, cantaloupe, squash, apricots, pumpkin, and mangos as well as collard greens, spinach, and kale. Vitamin A is important for vision and also supports skin cells and a healthy immune system. Vitamin A itself is found in liver, milk, egg yolks and butter.

Lycopene is an extremely potent antioxidant found in tomatoes, watermelon, guava, papaya, apricots, pink grapefruit, blood oranges. The USDA estimates that 85 percent of American dietary intake of lycopene comes from tomatoes and tomato products. Lycopene is a carotenoid pigment that is protective against heart disease and some cancers (and gives tomatoes their red color). Tomato products that are cooked (like pasta sauce, canned tomatoes, etc.) have more lycopene than fresh tomatoes.

Vitamin E, also known as alpha-tocopherol, is found in almonds, sunflower seeds, wheat germ, tuna, mangos, nuts, and broccoli and is great for our skin with a pronounced anti-aging effect as well as helping skin diseases including psoriasis and acne, and has breast and prostate cancer fighting properties.