Food in The News

Originally published at: 0,14343,1092456,00.html

By Karen Asp

All-Star Foods That Fight for Health

Find out which foods rank highest in antioxidant content

It's no secret that an apple a day—along with other fruits, vegetables, and nuts—will help keep the doctor away. These foods are loaded with antioxidants, substances that fight free radicals, disease-causing compounds that have been linked to heart disease, cancer, and Alzheimer's. But just how many antioxidants these foods contain has been a mystery—until now. The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) recently analyzed the antioxidant content of more than 100 foods, including fruits, vegetables, nuts, dried fruits, spices, and cereals.

The big surprise: Even though they're consumed in small amounts, herbs and spices, such as oregano, cinnamon, and cloves, showed higher amounts of antioxidants than researchers had previously thought.

A high antioxidant level doesn't equate to a superfood, however. "There's still a lot we don't understand about how the body uses antioxidants," says Ronald L. Prior, Ph.D., nutritionist and research chemist with the USDA. The body absorbs some antioxidants better than others, he notes, and cooking may also alter the content. But most antioxidant-rich foods also have other benefits, such as low fat and calorie levels, and helpful vitamins and minerals. For optimal health, aim for at least five to nine servings of fruits and vegetables a day.

Antioxidant Breakdown

After years of being barred from the average American diet, things are looking sunny-side up for eggs. According to a study from Pennington Biomedical Research Center in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, overweight women who eat egg breakfasts lose twice as much weight as women who start their days with bagels. Researchers say the protein in eggs increases satiety and decreases hunger, helping women eat fewer calories throughout the day. "Eggs are a perfect protein source because they have all eight essential amino acids," Grotto says. "And recent research debunks the idea that they have adverse effects on the heart."

Best way to enjoy them: Try 'em for breakfast. This is the ideal time for getting the proven fill-you-up benefits the rest of the day. Besides, it takes only a couple of minutes to scramble an egg. Work a hard- or soft-boiled egg into lunch, too, by adding it to a spinach salad. Or make an omelet or veggie frittata with two to three egg whites to every one yolk to keep the calories low (whites have just 16 calories, while whole eggs have 72 each). Reconsidering the egg.

Watch out for: Eggs served at restaurants.Even an egg-white omelet is likely to be fried in butter or oil unless you ask that it be prepared with cooking spray. And like pizza, beware of any egg dish that's smothered in cheese. If you're craving more flavor, add some herbs or salsa.

Fruits one-cup serving

Dried Plums: 14,582
Cultivated blueberries: 9,019
Blackberries: 7,701
Sweet cherries: 4,873

Vegetables one-cup serving, cooked

Artichoke hearts: 7,904
Red cabbage: 4,718
Russet potato: 4,649

Nuts one-ounce serving

Pecans: 5,095
Walnuts: 3,846
Hazelnuts: 2,739


© 2008, Karen Asp / Cooking Light Magazine