Antioxidants are vitamins and minerals that have gained a lot of favorable press coverage in the past few years for helping to prevent diseases and also negative press for not living up to their promise.
Several studies now indicate that one reason for these mixed reviews may be that swallowing individual antioxidants as supplements in pill form is not as effective as digesting foods rich in a combination of antioxidants.
A recent article published by the Harvard Medical School explained antioxidants stabilize harmful byproducts of the body’s energy-making machinery, called free radicals. These free radicals can damage DNA, make LDL (bad) cholesterol even worse, and cause other damage in the body. The theory put forth in the Harvard newsletter is that single antioxidants have not been effective because “It takes a network of antioxidants, like those found in foods, to neutralize free radicals.”
Helpful to those who want to improve their health through proper diet are the results of a recent study conducted by a team of international researchers.
Here are the 14 foods found to have the highest antioxidant content:
10. Cloves (ground)
11. Chocolate (baking, unsweetened)
12. Cranberry juice
13. Cherries (sour)
14. Red Wine
Just as previous studies have shown that the body absorbs more nutrients from cooked vegetables, these researchers found that the antioxidant potential of most foods was greater if they were cooked. This was not true of grains, however, which had a lower antioxidant potential when cooled.
These studies still do not prove that eating these super foods will guarantee people protection from cancer, heart disease, eye disease and Alzheimer’s disease as claimed by antioxidant proponents, but including them in moderate amounts—along with other low-fat, low-sodium foods in moderate amounts—should help to improve your health if also combined with adequate exercise and sleep. Staying away from dangerous situations and diseased people, and washing your hands frequently, should also help.
This information is provided by the Medical Society of the State of New York (MSSNY). For more health-related information and referrals to physicians in your community, log on to MSSNY’s website at www.mssny.org or contact your local county medical society.