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11 Apr

Antioxidants and the Stress of Eating

antioxidantsSorry, we’re not talking about how to politely show your Aunt Mildred how much you appreciate her tomato jello mold. Research from the Agricultural Research Service suggests that eating antioxidant rich foods such as berries with each meal can neutralize the free radicals inevitably created by the oxidative stress of regular digestion.

As if you needed another reason to eat your fruits and veggies…

To learn more about the effects of antioxidants on postprandial, or after-meal, oxidative stress, Prior and co-investigators collaborated in four clinical studies with healthy female volunteers. The scientists found that the antioxidant capacity of volunteers’ blood plasma samples declined after eating a test meal that lacked antioxidants. But the scientists also found, for the first time, that consuming grapes with that same test meal prevented the decline in plasma antioxidant capacity of the volunteers during the first two hours following the test meal—the time digestion is the most rapid. Prior, based at the ARS-funded Arkansas Children’s Nutrition Center in Little Rock, Ark., noted that omitting antioxidant-rich foods from meals could lead to cellular damage by free radicals. Such damage is thought to increase risk of atherosclerosis, cancer and other diseases.

via Science Daily

Scientists included this experiment in their ORAC research, a study that assessed the antioxidant capacity of a variety of fruits.

We love it when solutions are simple, and this one is no exception. Sure, we go on and on about the importance of antioxidants to combat every variety of physical and psychological stress, pollution, aging, etc. But it doesn’t get more “here and now” than including antioxidants to combat the stresses of eating itself. A little effort, in this case a cup of blueberries (or maybe a spinach salad and a glass of red wine), goes a long way.

Talk about neat; you could tie this one up with a bow. Now, if only dinner at Aunt Mildred’s house could be so simple.

Thoughts? Cheers? Sad stories about family-induced food stresses? Share them here – with a nice cup of antioxidant-rich tea.

greenapplegrenade Flickr Photo (CC)

Further Reading:

A Visual Guide to Antioxidants

16 Ultimate Super Foods

Modern Forager: Fruits/Vegetables and Antioxidants

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  1. This reminds me of something I read years ago where they tested the free radicals associated with fast food. Had a study with groups taking a Vit C tablet with every fast food meal (and group not taking) and found the number of free radicals to drop dramatically in the group taking Vit C with every meal. Maybe McD’s should put that in their happy meal!

    Mike OD - IF Life wrote on April 11th, 2008
  2. So, wine is rich in antioxidants. And blueberries are rich in antioxidants. Has anyone ever thought about….blueberry wine? Yes? Yes?

    Jordan wrote on April 11th, 2008
  3. Sounds like a wine I consumed in large quantities during my freshman year of college. No wait…wrong berry. That was Strawberry Hill! :-)_

    Dave C. wrote on April 11th, 2008
  4. Mark-

    As a former mileage junkie now turned health guru, what are your thoughts of competitive endurance athletes consuming wine (limiting to 1 glass per sitting) during racing season? Good? Bad? Good outweigh the bad or vice versa?

    Ryan Denner wrote on April 11th, 2008
  5. I heard or read somewhere recently that purple grape juice actually has more antioxidants than red wine. Not nearly as relaxing as that glass of wine, though!

    Amy wrote on April 11th, 2008
  6. Ryan,

    The one glass of red wine is probably much better than the 6 beers I used to consume nearly every day during racing season!! Good might outweigh the bad there.

    Mark Sisson wrote on April 11th, 2008
  7. Mark, you have an imperfect understanding of oxidative stress – specifically the number of free radicals produced in the body every day. If you think that eating blueberries and other “antioxidant rich” foods every day is alleviating your oxidative stress, you are sadly mistaken. You are trying to put out a house fire with a dixie cup. Good luck with that.

    Vivian wrote on February 4th, 2013

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