Grocery stores, farmers’ markets, roadside stands—perhaps even your own garden—are overflowing with fruits and vegetables at this time of year. Hundreds of studies confirm that plant foods provide potent protection against cancer, heart disease, and dozens of other diseases. However, not all fruits and vegetables are created equal, and the ones we eat the most aren’t necessarily the most nutritious.
So which ones are the most healthful? There are many yardsticks we could use to grade fruits and vegetables. One of the best measures is oxygen radical absorbance capacity (ORAC), which defines the total antioxidant potential of a food. The higher the ORAC units, the greater the antioxidant activity.
According to the US Department of Agriculture, the top 10 ORAC fruits, in descending order, are:
The top 10 ORAC vegetables are:
- Brussels sprouts
- Alfalfa sprouts
- Broccoli florets
- Red bell peppers
Take advantage of the season and try to incorporate a few of these foods every day. It’s also a good idea to eat organic fruits and veggies whenever possible.
Now it’s your turn: What’s your favorite summer fruit or vegetable?