Coffee probably contributes far more healthy antioxidants to your diet than fruit and vegetables, according to research by US scientists. Scientists measured the antioxidant content of more than 100 different foods including vegetables, fruits, nuts, spices, oils and beverages.
The findings were then combined with data from the US Department of Agriculture on each item's contribution to the average American's diet. Coffee was the biggest source of antioxidants per serving and level of consumption.
It was followed by black tea, bananas, dry beans and corn.
"Americans get more of their antioxidants from coffee than any other dietary source -- nothing else comes close," head researcher Professor Joe Vinson, of Scranton University in Pennsylvania, said.
Both caffeinated and decaffeinated coffee appeared to provide similar antioxidant levels.
Antioxidants help rid the body of harmful free radicals, destructive molecules that damage cells and DNA. They have been linked to a number of health benefits including protection against heart disease and cancer.
Studies have associated coffee drinking with a reduced risk of liver and colon cancer, type two diabetes and Parkinson's disease.
But Vinson urged moderation and said people should drink only one or two cups of coffee per day.
"Unfortunately, consumers are still not eating enough fruits and vegetables, which are better for you from an overall nutritional point of view due to their higher content of vitamins, minerals and fiber," Vinson said.
Research showed that compared with other foods, dates were the richest source of antioxidants. But as Americans eat few dates,they only contributed a small amount of antioxidants to the average person's diet. Cranberries and red grapes also had high levels of antioxidants.