Saturday, August 29, 2009

Look for Foods That Promote Youth

By Dr. Mathias Wikenslop

A recent study done by USDA scientist found that artichokes, beans, and acai berry were among the best foods to find the highest levels of the disease fighting compound known as antioxidants.

It was also confirmed that already well-known high antioxidant foods such as cranberries and blueberries--the researchers also found that Russet potatoes, pecans and even cinnamon are all excellent--although lesser-known, sources of antioxidants. Antioxidants are thought to fight cancer, heart disease, and Alzheimer's.

"The bottom line is the same: eat more fruits and veggies," says Ronald L. Prior, Ph.D., a chemist and nutritionist with the USDA's Arkansas Children's Nutrition Center in Little Rock, Ark., and lead author of the study. "This study confirms that those foods are full of benefits, particularly those with higher levels of antioxidants. Nuts and spices are also good sources."

This is the most comprehensive and complete study ever done on foods with antioxidants as the USDA used high tech equipment and analyzed more foods than in the previous studies. The researchers analyzed over 100 foods like acai berry, fruits, vegetables, spices and nuts.

The foods were analyzed and measured for the concentration levels of antioxidants and the capacity per serving of the antioxidants. Research showed the top fruits were the acai berry, cranberries, blueberries, and black berries. The highest levels found in the nut category were walnuts, hazelnuts, and pecans--Russet potatoes, beans, and artichokes were found to have the highest level antioxidant concentration in the vegetable category.

ground cloves, ground cinnamon, and oregano were found to have high amounts of antioxidants. Spices are usually consumed in small amounts, even though many are high in antioxidants.

The data should prove useful for those seeking to add more antioxidants in their diet. You must still use caution as the total antioxidant capacity of the foods does not necessarily reflect their potential health benefit, which depends on how they are absorbed and utilized in the body.

At the moment, there are no government guidelines for people to know many antioxidants to take and what kinds of antioxidants to consume in their daily meals--this is also the case with vitamins and minerals. A major barrier to such guidelines is a lack of consensus among nutrition researchers on uniform antioxidant measurements.

It is encouraged for the time being to eat a variety of fruits and vegetables that have a high concentration of amino acids like acai berry.

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