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Antioxidants from 10 unexpected sources

Some foods, like tea, spinach, and blueberries, get all the praise for their antioxidant properties, but they’re not the only ones that bring a high number of antioxidants to the table. Registered dietician Alexandra Caspero, owner of, did some research and came up with 10 lesser-known healthy superfoods.

Cocoa powder

This is the part of the cacao bean which is left once the fatty cocoa butter is removed. Up to 10% of a portion of cocoa powder consists of flavonoids, which help protect against strokes and heart attacks. Cocoa powder also contains calcium and magnesium. You can add some to your diet by including a small amount in savory sauces or chili or by making a Mexican mole sauce.


The little boxes of dried grapes so common in lunchboxes may be healthier than suspected. All types of raisins contain boron, necessary for healthy bones. Dark raisins are also full of energy-boosting anthocyanins. Try including some in your oatmeal or cereal, or just eat them plain.

Kidney beans

You might know these as red beans or chili beans, but whatever you call them, they’re a wonderful addition to a healthy diet. A quarter cup of kidney beans contains over 6000 antioxidants, not to mention loads of protein and a full three grams of fiber. You can try mashing them and mixing them into ground beef or turkey for burgers or meat loaf. Bean soups and red beans and rice are also good ways to get a serving of kidney beans.


Even though it’s often overlooked, barley is full of nutrients and incredibly versatile in cooking. Barley contains fiber to help lower cholesterol, not to mention folate, manganese, and molybdenum. It can be used in place of rice in a risotto, added to soups, or sprinkled on salads for texture.


The antioxidants in this dark leafy green can help gym-goers recover from their workouts more quickly by neutralize the free radicals which can damage DNA, according to a recent study in the British Journal of Nutrition. There are only four calories in an entire cup of watercress, but it contains lutein and zexanthin, which keep the eyes healthy, as well as vitamins A, C, and K. Watercress has a light peppery flavor and can be substituted for lettuce in salads and sandwiches.


Sorghum resembles wheat berries in texture and flavor, but the grain is gluten free. It contains a balance of carbohydrates and protein which make it a reliable energy source. Sorghum is full of B-complex vitamins and helps lower cholesterol. It can be used in place of bulgur wheat in dishes like tabbouleh. The syrup can also be used as a substitute for honey.

Ginger root

Nine chemicals in ginger are known to help improve digestive health. Ginger can also ease muscles sore from exertion. It has a spicy, citrusy flavor. Ginger is common in Asian cuisine, but the flavor pairs well with many different dishes.


Coffee is the most common source of antioxidants for most Americans. Whether it’s regular or decaf, coffee contains many antioxidants, particularly chlorogenic acid, which helps neutralize bad cholesterol.


In spite of the scaremongering, eggs do not raise the risk of heart problems. In fact, eggs contain more nutrients per calorie than any other food. They also provide choline, which helps the body burn fat. As long as you don’t cook them in unhealthy fat, eggs in any form can be part of a healthy diet.

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