If you want the health benefits of antioxidants but hate broccoli, then pucker up: A new study shows that cranberries may be better for you.
An antioxidant comparison of some of the most common fruits found that the little red berry — in its pure form — contained the highest quantity of disease-fighting phenols, a type of antioxidant that is thought to reduce the risk of chronic diseases such as cancer, stroke and heart disease.
The study is scheduled to appear in the November 19 issue of the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry, a peer-reviewed journal of the American Chemical Society, the world’s largest scientific society. It was published in the Web edition of the journal on Oct. 3.
The study represents the most comprehensive investigation to date of the quantity and quality of antioxidants in fruits, says lead researcher Joe Vinson, Ph.D., a chemist with the University of Scranton in Scranton, Penn.
“Cranberries are one of the healthiest fruits. I think that people should eat more of them,” says Vinson. Although researchers have known for years that cranberries are high in antioxidants, detailed data on their phenol content in comparison to other fruits was unavailable until now, he says.
Vinson measured the total phenol content in each of 19 fruits commonly consumed in the American diet. Gram for gram, cranberries had the highest phenol content. On the basis of serving size, cranberries also ranked first, he says.
Vinson and his associates are now conducting animal studies to determine if the high antioxidant levels of cranberries protect against the development of atherosclerosis, or hardening of the arteries, a condition that can lead to heart attacks and strokes. The researchers eventually plan to conduct human studies to determine if supplements of the fruit would offer heart protection, he says.
The study underscores government health recommendations that people should eat more fruits and vegetables to help maintain a healthy diet and lifestyle, he added.
Although studies have shown that antioxidants from both sources appear to offer some degree of health protection, Vinson gives the edge to fruit. Using comparative data on antioxidants in food, he found that fruit contained twice as many antioxidant phenols as vegetables.
In particular, the phenol content of cranberries was five times that of broccoli, according to the researcher. But he cautions that you may not want to ignore broccoli. It and other cruciferous veggies contain sulforaphane, a chemical that has been shown in recent studies to be
Materials provided by American Chemical Society. Note: Content may be edited for style and length.
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