Edible Landscaping

Charlie Says… Go Easy on Antioxidants

Eating foods high in antioxidants, such as blueberries, is good for your health, but be wary of the food products with antioxidants added to them. It might be too much of a good thing.

We've heard the reports for years now about how eating foods rich in antioxidants can help prevent many different types of cancers. Whether it be the lycopene in watermelons or tomatoes, anthocyanins in pomegranates, or sulforaphane in broccoli, these compounds have been found to help keep our bodies healthy.

Now comes word through researchers at USDA in Beltsville, Maryland that, like most things you can name, too much of a good thing may not be good for you. The theory has been that antioxidants reduce the number of "reactive oxidant species" in the body. These oxidants have been associated with chronic diseases and aging. Now research is showing that these "bad" oxidants in the body are also important for proper metabolic functioning. Reducing them too much can disrupt cellular activity and increase the risk of chronic diseases.

Does this mean you should stop noshing on blueberries, tomatoes, and watermelon? No. Antioxidants in whole fruits and vegetables are always a good thing for your body. Eat away. But the research does warn consumers and the food industry to be wary of inoculating antioxidants into processed foods, assuming they impart the same health benefits as those found in fresh foods. If you want antioxidants, go to the source and eat your fruits and vegetables fresh and unprocessed.

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