are good for you!
In a US
Department of Agriculture (USDA) laboratory at Tufts University in
Boston, Massachusetts, researchers have found that blueberries rank
#1 in antioxidant activity when compared to 40 other fresh fruits
and vegetables. Antioxidants help neutralize harmful by-products
called "free radicals" that can lead to cancer and other age-related
diseases. Anthocyanin - the pigment that makes blueberries blue - is
thought to be responsible for this major health benefit.
Slowed age-related loss
USDA lab at Tufts University, neuroscientists discovered that
feeding blueberries to laboratory rats slowed age-related loss in
their mental capacity, a finding that has important implications for
humans. Again, the high antioxidant activity of blueberries probably
played a role .
may reduce the build-up of so called "bad" cholesterol that
contributes to cardiovascular disease and stroke, according to
scientists at the University of California at Davis. Once again, the
antioxidants are believed to be the active component.
Urinary tract health
Rutgers University in New Jersey have identified a compound in
blueberries that promotes urinary tract health and reduces the risk
of infection. It appears to work by preventing bacteria from
adhering to the cells that line the walls of the urinary tract.
are also low in sodium and high in dietary fiber and potassium - all
this for only 40 calories per ½ cup serving!
Study Of Food Antioxidants Reveals Best Sources
"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."
The new study is
more complete and accurate (thanks to updated technology) than
previous USDA antioxidant data and includes more foods than the
previous study, the researchers say. They analyzed antioxidant
levels in over 100 different foods, including fruits and vegetables.
In addition, the new study includes data on spices and nuts for the
Among the fruits,
vegetables and nuts analyzed, each food was measured for antioxidant
concentration as well as antioxidant capacity per serving size.
Cranberries, blueberries, and
blackberries ranked highest among the
fruits studied. Beans, artichokes and Russet potatoes
were tops among the vegetables. Pecans, walnuts and hazelnuts ranked
highest in the nut category.
are generally consumed in small amounts, many are high in
antioxidants. On the basis of antioxidant concentration, ground
cloves, ground cinnamon and oregano were the highest among the
Prior says that
the data should prove useful for consumers seeking to include more
antioxidants in their diet. But he cautions that 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. Researchers are still trying to better understand this
process, he adds.
are no government guidelines for consumers on how many antioxidants
to consume and what kind of antioxidants to consume in their daily
diet, as is the case with vitamins and minerals. A major barrier to
such guidelines is a lack of consensus among nutrition researchers
on uniform antioxidant measurements. Scientists will soon attempt to
develop such a consensus at the First International Congress on
Antioxidant Methods, held June 16-18 at the Caribe Royale Hotel and
Conference Center in Orlando, Fla., with the ultimate goal of
developing better nutritional data for consumers. ACS is the
principal sponsor of the meeting.
For now, USDA
officials continue to encourage consumers to eat a variety of fruits
and vegetables for better health.