Antioxidants are believed to protect the body from free radicals that may cause chronic diseases. In the diet, antioxidants are especially found in fresh fruits and vegetables, and are most commonly found in berries. Many studies show that purple berries have the highest amount of antioxidants. Dark purple antioxidant berries include elder berries, black currants and chokeberries, with chokeberries having the highest amount of antioxidants. Acai and goji berries are other popular types of dark purple antioxidant berries, and cranberries and blueberries rank high as well.
While many vegetables and nuts are high in antioxidants, berries tend to outrank them in terms of antioxidant content. Studies also have shown that the darker the berry, the more antioxidants it contains. Dark purple berries are ranked the highest in antioxidants among berries, with up to 50 percent more antioxidants than other berries.
Among dark purple antioxidant berries, chokeberries have the highest amount of antioxidants. Chokeberries are native to eastern North America and come in “black” or “red” varieties; the red are considered to be slightly sweeter than the black. Not only do chokeberries contain a high amount of antioxidants, they are very nutritious, containing many very important vitamins and minerals.
One popular type of berry advertised for its amount of antioxidants is the acai berry. Acai berries come from acai palm trees, native to South America. Research is still being done on the exact antioxidant power of acai berries, but studies indicate that acai fruit pulp has a very high antioxidant content.
Antioxidant berries also include goji berries. Goji berries are native to China, and have been traditionally used in Chinese medicine. Results about the amount of antioxidants in goji are still inconclusive, but initial tests show the antioxidant content to be high. Goji berries are typically consumed through either juice or tea.
Cranberries and blueberries also rank high in antioxidant content. Some studies argue that cranberries actually contain more antioxidants than any other berry. In any case, the cranberry also has natural probiotic qualities that can help the body's immune system fight off bacterial infections, especially those affecting the gastrointestinal tract. Scientists also have found the berries contain compounds that are toxic to many types of cancer cells.
The polyphenols in blueberries not only produce their deep blue color, but also account for their high levels of antioxidants. Polyphenols, which also are found in red wine and green tea, can interfere with the enzymes and other substances necessary for cancer growth. Blueberries also are effective in reducing oxidation in brain cells, which can help protect against such conditions as dementia and Alzheimer's.