Blueberries, chocolate, and pinto beans–what do they all have in common? They’re all great antioxidant foods. Antioxidants are essential as they help defend our body against free radicals and bacteria, as well as help fight certain cancers and various degenerative diseases like Alzheimer’s.

And although there are many antioxidant supplements on the market, it’s still better to obtain the nutrients through your natural diet. The truth is, you are probably already consuming a lot of high antioxidant foods, as a lot them are delicious and popular food items. But if you find yourself getting sick or in need of a boost for your immune system, here are some foods that pack a powerful punch of antioxidants.

We reference a study that compiled information from an antioxidant database of more than 3100 foods, beverages, spices, herbs, and supplements. Ounce for ounce, it was clear that herbs and spices offered the highest amount of antioxidants. However, taking into account that no one really sautes an entire plate of basil, and that not all top antioxidant foods are necessarily available, we’ve listed ones that are more commonly eaten and easily accessible.

1. Walnuts

Walnut tops the nuts, legumes, and grains chart when it comes to antioxidant content, and by a lot–more than twice as much as any other nut! What makes walnuts so powerful are their  high load of polyphenols, compounds that fight free radicals and protect cells from any damage. Add a handful to your salad or yoghurt bowl. Or maybe a nice cup of homemade walnut milk? It’s delicious.

2. Pecans

Although not even twice as powerful as walnuts, pecans are second on the list and are still a formidable contestant when it comes to antioxidants and other nutrients. Pecans provide healthy fats and offer more than nineteen vitamins and minerals. In general, most nuts and seeds are healthy for you, so add them anywhere you can!

3. Dark Chocolates

Don’t reach for just any chocolate. If you really want a boost in antioxidants, opt for ones for with at least 40% cocoa content. Dark chocolate is also a great source of nutrients such as magnesium, copper, manganese, and iron. In terms of treats, dark chocolates are hard to beat, but these nutrients do still come with sugar and perhaps some unwanted calories.

4. Artichokes

There’s really no excuse to not consume artichokes on a regular basis considering how versatile and delicious they are! Add them onto your pizza, in a stir fry, or roast them as they are. Artichokes have been linked to improved digestive system function, cognitive functions, and even possible cancer prevention. And did we mention they’re higher in antioxidants than most berries?

5. Blackberries

We say most berries because there is one that still rises above the powerful artichoke, and it’s the blackberry! We’re not throwing shade at any other berries, of course, as they’re all delicious and very healthy for you. But in terms of antioxidants, blackberries beat out every other berry. So make sure not to skip out on these the next time you’re making a berry medley smoothie!

6. Prunes and Plums

Whether you prefer plums or prunes, you can’t go wrong with either one if you’re looking for a boost of antioxidants. They also have the potential of regulating blood sugar levels, lowering cholesterol levels, and protecting the intestinal system.

7. Coffee

In the beverages category, coffee and espresso top the list, beating out even apple juice and green tea. It’s no surprise, as coffee has been known to offer a wide range of health benefits, including the possibility of improving mood, alleviating headaches, and even reducing the risk of diabetes, and certain cancers.

8. Red Wine

Not that you needed any more reason to snuggle up next to a bottle of merlot every evening, but red wine indeed is high in antioxidants–it offers as much as coffee! You probably already knew that. The main antioxidant found in red wine is resveratrol, which has been linked to reduced risk of heart disease.

9. Herbs and Spices

It’s far too difficult to just pick one or two from this category, as ounce for ounce, herbs and spices beat out all other categories with its mean antioxidant level. Although they don’t hold much weight on the dinner table, incorporating them in your dishes, smoothies, or desserts will provide a powerful boost. Some herbs and spices that top the list include allspice, mint, oregano, sage, rosemary, saffron, thyme, clove, and cinnamon. But seriously, you can’t go wrong with any of them. If you’re capable of sauteing up an entire plate of basil, go for it.

Antioxidant levels are referenced with the full list of antioxidant food database–all 3100 foods–look for your favourite ones! And let us know what your best methods are in ensuring that you’re consuming enough antioxidants.

Daniel is a Digital Marketing and Content Strategist at SPUD. He graduated from UBC with a degree in English and International Relations with a focus on environmental topics. A wordsmith by day and a bookman by night, he's a self-proclaimed gastronomic snob, a buck-a-shuck addict, a sub-par skier, and a devoted kingsguard of the oxford comma. He also frequents the dog park with a schnauzer named Duke. | Instagram: @dannnyellow

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