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Which Has More Antioxidants, Peaches or Cherries?

Since the 1990s, when news about food ingrediants antioxidants and their health benefits began to spread to the general public, the claims regarding antioxidant benefits have ranged from preventing the common cold to curing cancer. Although many of these claims have yet to be scientifically proven, antioxidant-rich fruits like cherries and peaches may help boost your immune system and stave off certain diseases. Although cherries appear to have higher overall antioxidant levels, both cherries and peaches contain antioxidant compounds that may have important benefits for your health.

 

Antioxidants are substances that fight these free radicals and prevent damage. People who eat fewer antioxidant-rich fruits and vegetables may have an increased risk for developing chronic diseases like cancer, diabetes and heart disease, as well as decreases in cognitive function as they age. There may be thousands of different antioxidant substances, according to the Harvard School of Public Health. The best known are in the vitamin category, including vitamin C, vitamin E and beta-carotene. Other categories include minerals, carotenoids -- a common group of naturally occurring pigments in red, yellow, orange and dark-green fruits and vegetables -- and polyphenols. Polyphenols are the most abundant antioxidants in your diet, 10 times higher than your vitamin C intake and 100 times higher than intakes of vitamin E and carotenoids, according to a 2004 study in "The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.

 

There are over 100 different species of cherries, the smallest members of the stone fruit family rosaceae. The most important are the sweet cherry and the sour, or tart cherry. Cherries contain vitamins A, B, C, E and K, as well as carotenoids and polyphenols. Tart cherries contain a much higher level of total polyphenols than their sweeter cousins, according to a 2010 report in the journal "Molecules." USDA scientists analyzed the antioxidant levels in over 100 different foods and published the results in the "Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry" in June 2004. Although the study didn include tart cherries, sweet cherries ranked 15th in the amount of overall antioxidant capacity among the foods tested, with an ORAC rating of 4873.

 

Peaches are also a member of the rosaceae family and are rich sources of vitamins A, B1, B2 and vitamin C. Like cherries, peaches are good sources of carotenoids and polyphenols. The same USDA study in the "Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry" from 2004 found that peaches had an ORAC rating of 1826. While well below that of cherries, the rating still qualifies the peach as an antioxidant-rich food due to having a score above 1000 per 100 grams. A report in the February 2000 issue of "The Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry" showed that the antioxidants in peaches were able to inhibit the effects of harmful low-density lipoprotein cholesterol that can lead to chronic disease.

 

Scientists with the Agricultural Research Service of the U.S. Department of Agriculture, or USDA, helped develop the ORAC method to determine the amount of antioxidants (Foodchem) a food item has. The ORAC method, which stands for oxygen radical absorbance capacity, measures the capacity of a food to counteract the free radicals your body generates when you engage in ordinary daily activities like breathing, eating and exercising, as well as when you e exposed to pollution or ultraviolet rays. If a food is rich in antioxidants, it scores an ORAC rating of 1000 per 100 grams or above.

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