I am not a dietitian, I am a Research and Development Chef with a Nutritional Concentration. This site is based on opinions I've formed through my research and experience working for manufactured food processors.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Food for thought: What's up with antioxidants anyway?

        We all know that many foods like vegetables, fruits, grain cereals, eggs, meat, legumes and nuts contain antioxidants. We've been told to consume as many antioxidants as we can because of their ability to tame scary free radicals.  Free radicals contribute to cell damage, which in turn, can lead to cancer.  
            Over 200 studies have been conducted and show overwhelming evidence that people who eat a diet rich in fruits and vegetables benefit from a lower risk of cancer. (Block G, Patterson B, Subar A., 1992) However, it is not clear that the antioxidants in the fruits and vegetables alone are responsible for staving off cancer. Furthermore, there is not enough conclusive evidence that antioxidant supplements are as effective as a diet rich in fruits and vegetables at preventing cancer. This leads one to believe there’s more to the story of fruits and vegetables cancer hindering abilities than merely their antioxidants.
            One of the major misconceptions regarding antioxidants and free radicals is that all antioxidants are good, and the latter bad. Many pharmaceutical companies have marketed vitamins containing antioxidants as cancer preventatives. This major marketing campaign coupled with the fear of cancer, has led laymen reason to believe that ingesting lots of antioxidants will rid our bodies of harmful free radicals and therefore reduce our risk of cancer. In actuality, not all antioxidants are good, and not all free radicals are harmful. Antioxidants regulate the amount of free radicals in the body, through a careful balancing act. (Halliwell, Barry, 2006).          


To learn more about antioxidants and free radicals click here.

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