Antioxidant Drinks: The Top Ten
There was a time not too long ago when most people would look at you like you were crazy if you started talking about the dangers of free radicals and how antioxidants protect your body from their effects. But the value of antioxidants is common knowledge now, we know they slow the aging process, protect health in hundreds of ways and reduce the risk of all kinds of disease. Consumers feel good about purchasing and using anything they know to be high in antioxidants; brands have capitalized on this by giving high profiles to the antioxidant content of the foods, drinks and supplements they make.
A few types of beverages, but particularly fruit juices, have been heavily promoted for their antioxidant benefits, usually as a result of the natural polyphenols they contain. From overpriced multilevel marketed acai drinks to pomegranate, grape juices and others, products in all of these categories claim to be antioxidant-rich. But there are different ways of assessing the strength and benefits of an antioxidant, and it’s never been clear to the consumer which drinks deliver the strongest antioxidant benefits, or if there is a difference.
A UCLA study from last year was one of the first to put a number of these different antioxidant-rich beverages through a well-designed series of functional tests – rather than just one or two – to rank their antioxidant benefits. Several brands were used for each of the following beverage types, ranked below from strongest to weakest. Pomegranate juice was way ahead of the pack by at least 20% with red wine a surprising second. Acai is in the middle of the range while iced tea and apple have less to boast about in terms of antioxidant strength.
1. Pomegranate Juice
2. Red wine
3. Concord grape juice
4. Blueberry juice
5. Black cherry juice
6. Açaí juice
7. Cranberry juice
8. Orange juice
9. Iced tea
10. Apple juice
Supplements made from these polyphenol-rich fruits weren’t tested or compared in this study. But it’s no great leap to extrapolate these juice results to dry supplements. After all, this was strictly a test of antioxidant function and supplement forms of these fruits are formulated entirely around their polyphenol content, yet have the sugars and water removed. Supplements won’t take the place of fruit juices, but they are a much more concentrated and cost-effective way to get these antioxidants.