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Stonyfield Tip of the Month: Antioxidant Supplements

October 1, 2012 02:46 PM
Many types of berries are high in antioxidants.
Though antioxidants are relatively new to the nutrition scene, they have received a lot of positive attention. These compounds—found in many foods, especially fruits and vegetables—seem to have several health promoting properties. In fact, athletes are often told to supplement their diet with antioxidants (in pill form) to help reduce muscle damage and increase athletic performance. But is it really worthwhile? The latest research suggests probably not.
What are antioxidants?
Antioxidants are compounds that seem to play a role in protecting cells (including muscle cells) against the damaging effects of free radicals. Free radicals are highly reactive molecules created by the breakdown of oxygen during metabolism. They have the potential to attack cells and damage tissue throughout the body. Free radicals are constantly being produced in your body—they’re produced from every day activities such as breathing, breaking down food, and exercising. Because exercise increases the production of potentially damaging free radicals, and they are believed to play a key role in exercise-related muscle damage and inflammation, many thought people who exercise should supplement their diet with added antioxidants to help suppress the negative effects of free radicals.
New way of thinking
Researchers have spent years testing this theory—supplementing athletes with several combinations and doses of antioxidants. While the findings consistently suggest that antioxidant supplements do indeed help to dampen the effects of free radicals (i.e. oxidative stress), that doesn’t seem to translate into physiologically relevant outcomes such as reduced muscle damage or increased exercise performance. Moreover, some studies suggest detrimental results with long-term, high-dosage antioxidant supplementation. It appears that the free radicals produced from exercise actually have an important role to play and over-supplementing with antioxidants interferes with those positive outcomes.
Bottom line: Reach for blueberries instead of a bottle
When it comes to antioxidants, it does seem that there can be too much of a good thing. While antioxidants do play an important role in keeping the body healthy, focus on getting yours though food instead of supplements. A well-balanced diet rich in fruits and vegetables will provide enough antioxidants to keep your body running optimally—both on and off the court.
Rank  Food  Serving Size  Total Antioxidant Capacity per serving size
1 Small Red Bean  1/2 cup dried beans  13727
2 Wild blueberry 1 cup 13427
3 Red kidney bean 1/2 cup dried beans 13258
4 Pinto bean 1/2 cup 11864
5 Blueberry 1 cup cultivated berries 9019
6 Cranberry 1 cup whole berries 8983
7 Artichoke Hearts 1 cup cooked 7904
8 Blackberry 1 cup 7701
9 Prune 1/2 cup 7291
10 Raspberry 1 cup 6058
11 Strawberry 1 cup 5938
12 Red Delicious apple 1 5900
13 Granny Smith 1 5381
14 Pecan 1 ounce 5095
15 Sweet cherry 1 cup 4873
16 Black plum 1 4844
17 Russet potato 1 cooked 4649
18 Black bean 1/2 cup dried beans 4181
19 Plum 1 4118
20 Gala apple 1 3903


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