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Antioxidants in Blueberries vs. Raisins

By Sandi Busch

Raisins have an advantage over blueberries if you’re looking for nutrients such as vitamin B-6 and iron, but when you want to boost antioxidants, you should choose blueberries over raisins. Raisins contain a small amount of two dietary antioxidants -- vitamins C and E -- but blueberries rule the day with five times more of both vitamins. You’ll also get a significant amount of antioxidant flavonoids from blueberries.

Antioxidants Explained

All of the life-sustaining work inside your body, from producing energy to synthesizing tissues and hormones, is accomplished by molecules interacting with other molecules. These reactions result in unhealthy byproducts, including molecules called free radicals. Free radicals are also produced when your body reacts to stressors, such as sunlight and air pollution, according to a report in the July 2010 issue of "Pharmacognosy Review." As free radicals interact with cells, they cause damage called oxidative stress. This is why substances that neutralize free radicals before they harm cells are called antioxidants. Without antioxidants, damage from free radicals accumulates and may cause diseases such as cancer and atherosclerosis.

Vitamin C Stops Free Radicals

The U.S. Department of Agriculture describes vitamin C as having high power to neutralize a wide variety of free radicals. In addition to protecting all types of cells, the water-soluble vitamin also keeps free radicals from damaging proteins, fats, carbs and DNA, according to the Linus Pauling Institute. One cup of raw blueberries contains 14 milligrams of vitamin C, compared to 3 milligrams in the same portion of raisins. Women should consume 75 milligrams of vitamin C daily, while men need 90 milligrams.

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Vitamin E Protects Fats

Vitamin E has one main job: to provide antioxidant protection to essential fats throughout your body. In this role, it stops free radicals before they destroy fats that fill vital jobs, such as forming cellular structure, regulating genes and producing energy. Vitamin E also protects fats in lipoproteins, which carry cholesterol through your blood. Damage to lipoproteins may increase your risk of cardiovascular disease, according to the Linus Pauling Institute. You’ll get 0.8 milligrams of vitamin E from 1 cup of blueberries and barely 0.2 milligrams from raisins. Your recommended dietary allowance for vitamin E is 15 milligrams daily.

Antioxidant Flavonoids

Flavonoids represent a very large group of substances produced by plants. They don’t provide nutritional benefits, but they do protect your health by regulating cellular communication and working as antioxidants. Blueberries are a rich source of flavonoids, containing more than 500 milligrams of flavonoids in a 1-cup serving, according to the USDA National Nutrient Database. By comparison, raisins only have about 1 milligram. If you have a choice, organically grown blueberries may provide more flavonoids than conventionally grown fruits, according to the USDA’s research published in the July 2008 issue of the “Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry.”

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