July 02, 2007
Antioxidant Fruits--It All Gets More Complicated
Like many other health conscious consumers, Crabby tries to pick the healthiest fruits and vegetables she can stand. All things being equal, if she has to eat foods that are not cupcakes or cheeseburgers, Crabby figures she'll go with SuperFoods--those packed with fiber and antioxidants and vitamins and minerals.
Crabby is particularly keen on antioxidants. She is under the impression that if she eats lots and lots of antioxidants, she'll never grow old or infirm and she'll just keep living a happy vigorous life forever! (Please don't break it to her that this is not technically true. She doesn't want to hear it).
Anyway, it seems like every week a new study comes out telling us that we really should be eating a ton of some particular food because it's packed with antioxidants. Like, for example, wild blueberries. Crabby actually reads these studies, and if the food is not vile or obscenely expensive, she dutifully goes out and buys a bunch of it and eats it so that she will never die.
But a new study has just made everything more complicated. Because now scientists are measuring how much of the antioxidants actually end up in your blood plasma, where it can do you some good. And guess what? Some of the most touted, packed-with-antioxidant Superfoods like Wild Blueberries weren't all that awesome at delivering the goods.
Researchers (led by a guy named Ronald Prior, just in case he's Googling himself) investigated how the consumption of different fruits affected plasma antioxidant capacity. Volunteers ate blueberries, cherries, dried plums, dried-plum juice, grapes, kiwis or strawberries. And guess what? The scientists discovered that some antioxidants are easier to absorb and utilize than others.
The chlorogenic acid in plums, for example, did not raise plasma AOC levels in volunteers even though plums have a lot of antioxidants. Likewise wild blueberries helped a little, but they weren't all that great. However, grapes and kiwifruit were awesome!
So what does this mean? Ditch the whole antioxidant quest and go back to cupcakes and cheeseburgers?
Well, no, not so fast. Because even the lame fruits were better than a non-fruit alternative: when volunteers drank a shake made with protein, carbohydrates and fat, their blood antioxidant levels dropped.
So from what Crabby can gather: Keep eating lots of fruits and vegetables. If you're weirdly obsessed by antioxidants and planning to live forever like Crabby is, you may want to keep an eye out for new studies which will come out with a whole different list of Superfoods that actually get more of the good stuff into your body.
Or better yet, let Crabby obsess about it. If the new list includes watermelon and peaches but leaves off broccoli and brussel sprouts, she promises you'll hear about it promptly on Cranky Fitness!
Due to some temporary "technical difficulties" Crabby will be moderating comments for a while. Which means there will be a delay between when you publish your comment and when your comment will actually appear. Don't worry! Your comment will still exist even if you don't see it for a bit. And if you hit the publish button a few times before you realize what's going on, don't worry about that either!
And one more thing--Crabby is still seeking reader suggestions for health related books or products she can put in her "Readers Recommend" Amazon ad. So far, BunnyGirl has supplied a couple of good ones. Anyone else? You can leave your ideas in the comments to this post, or the last one, or any place you want! Crabby will find it.