The new broccoli

Almonds are a good source of healthful antioxidants

If broccoli’s not in your dietary lexicon, the next time you’re shopping for antioxidant-rich foods, you could go for the almonds.

Not only are almonds rich in vitamin E, fiber and magnesium, but according to a Tufts study published June 28 in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry, they contain antioxidants in levels comparable to those of healthy foods such as broccoli and tea.

Antioxidants help deactivate free radicals, those rogue elements in the body that can destroy cells and potentially lead to problems such as heart disease, cancer and stroke. The researchers at the Jean Mayer USDA Human Nutrition Research Center on Aging (HNRCA) at Tufts found that almonds contain high levels of several antioxidant compounds, similar to the levels in many fruits and vegetables.

A serving of almonds contains the same amount of antioxidants (called flavonoids) as a serving of broccoli. One ounce of almonds provides as much of these antioxidants as found in a cup of brewed black or green tea.

The researchers noted that the main antioxidant compounds found in almonds—catechin, epicatechin and kaempferol—are the ones that provide the highest degree of protection against cell death from oxidants.

“These new findings, coupled with past results, lay the groundwork for future clinical trials that examine a link between whole almond consumption and the reduced risk of heart disease and other chronic conditions,” said study co-author Jeffrey Blumberg, director of the HNRCA Antioxidants Research Laboratory. The research was supported by the Almond Board of California and the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Agricultural Research Service.