Photo: JOE MARINARO (flickr)
Behind The Labels
Feel free to back off on the antioxidant-studded granola bars, cereal and whatever else. Antioxidants may not be the food superhero we’ve thought them to be.
Several recent studies highlighted in a recent Newsweek article are poking holes in theories that antioxidizing compounds like vitamins C and E and beta-carotene can help the body fight disease by breaking up potentially harmful reactions started by free radicals.
Hurting Not Helping?
An upcoming issue of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, found that female mice treated with an antioxidant compound showed reduced fertility. Another paper in the 2010 Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry showed that antioxidants worsened or even caused kidney cancer in lab rats.
Worse still are the results of a 400,000-person study from the Cochrane Review in 2008, which showed that people taking antioxidant supplements showed no change in their symptoms in a range of diseases or showed “increased mortality.”‘
Plenty Of Products
While it’s still unclear as to why antioxidants might speed progression of some diseases, what is clear is the increasing number of antioxidant-enhanced foods lining the grocery store aisles. In 2009, 108 new food products proclaimed this on their labels.