Antioxidants are nutrients or substances in food that slow the absorption of free radicals, which are a byproduct of the oxygen that cells need to survive. Free-radical or oxidative damage can cause heart disease, cancer and diabetes, among other health problems. Consuming fruits, vegetables and other foods high in antioxidants will help your body fight the effects of free-radical damage.
Berries such as blueberries, strawberries, blackberries, cranberries and raspberries are all fruits that are high in antioxidants. All of these were listed by the USDA as among the Top 20 Antioxidant Rich Foods available. Blueberries made the list twice; wild blueberries were ranked number 2 and cultivated blueberries landed at the number 5 spot.
Beans are the star of the USDA's Top 20 list, with dried red beans landing in the number 1 spot. Red kidney beans were listed as number 3, pinto beans were number 4 and dried black beans were listed at the number 18 spot. Nutritionists recommend eating a combination of foods that are rich in antioxidants, rather than eating a handful of beans or a few apples every day.
Three different kinds of apples made the USDA's Top 20 list. Gala apples landed at number 20, Granny Smith apples were listed at number 13 followed by Red Delicious at number 12.
Plums secured two separate spots on the Top 20 list, regular plums came in at 19 while black plums secured the 16th spot.
Cooked artichokes made the government's list as the seventh food highest in antioxidants.
The only remaining vegetable on the USDA list is the russet potato. Listed at number 17, the USDA recommends eating russet potatoes cooked to enjoy the most antioxidant benefits.
Other vegetables that did not make the top 20 list, but which are known to be high in antioxidants are red cabbage, kale, peppers, parsley, brussels sprouts, spinach and red beets.
Fruits other than those in the top 20 are also high in antioxidants. Pineapple, pomegranate, grapes, kiwi, grapefruit, lemons and oranges are among the list of fruits that will help you stay healthy.