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News Article

USDA Study of Food Antioxidants Published

A new study by the USDA provides one of the most comprehensive analyses to date of the antioxidant content of commonly consumed foods.

A new study by the USDA provides one of the most comprehensive analyses to date of the antioxidant content of commonly consumed foods. In addition to confirming the well-publicized high antioxidant ranking of such foods as cranberries and blueberries, the researchers found that Russet potatoes, pecans and even cinnamon are all excellent, although lesser-known, sources of antioxidants. The study appears in the June 9 print edition of the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry, and is more complete and accurate than previous USDA antioxidant studies because of updated technology. It also includes more foods than previous studies, the researchers say.

Ronald Prior and colleagues from the USDA's Arkansas Children's Nutrition Center in Little Rock analysed antioxidant levels in over 100 different foods, including fruits and vegetables. In addition, the study included data on spices and nuts for the first time. Among the fruits, vegetables and nuts analysed, each food was measured for antioxidant concentration as well as antioxidant capacity per serving size. Cranberries, blueberries, and blackberries ranked highest among the fruits studied. Beans, artichokes and Russet potatoes ranked highest among the vegetables. Pecans, walnuts and hazelnuts ranked highest in the nut category. Although spices are generally consumed in small amounts, many are high in antioxidants. On the basis of antioxidant concentration, ground cloves, ground cinnamon and oregano were the highest among the spices studied.

Lead author Prior said: "This study confirms that those foods are full of benefits, particularly those with higher levels of antioxidants. Nuts and spices are also good sources." He added that the data should prove useful for consumers seeking to include more antioxidants in their diet. However, he cautioned that total antioxidant capacity of the foods does not necessarily reflect their potential health benefit, which depends on how they are absorbed and utilized in the body.

Lipophilic and Hydrophilic Antioxidant Capacities of Common Foods in the United States by
Xianli Wu, Gary R. Beecher, Joanne M. Holden, David B. Haytowitz, Susan E. Gebhardt, and Ronald L. Prior is published in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry (2004) 52, 4026–4037; DOI: 10.1021/jf049696w.

Contact: Ronald L. Prior, USDA, Arkansas Children’s Nutrition Center, 1120 Marshall St., Little Rock, AR 72202, USA.
Tel: +1 501-364-2747
E mail:

Article details

  • Date
  • 18 June 2004
  • Subject(s)
  • Awaiting Classification (11)