The four most antioxidant-packed natural substances so far tested are cloves, amla (Indian gooseberries), triphala (a combination of amla, bibhitaki, and haritaki fruits), and dragon’s blood.
Image thanks to Chris Kilham.
Closing out our exploration of the ground-breaking antioxidant analysis of thousands of foods, herbs, and spices, crowned by cloves, a hundred times more antioxidants than blueberries, here for comparison's sake, then amla, then triphala, which we should probably avoid due to toxic metal contamination, and then by far the single most antioxidant-packed substance on the planet earth, "sangre de grado": blood of the dragon -- a bright red sap that oozes when you slash into the bark of this Amazonian tree. Leading to amusing article names such as, "Studies on the Antidiarrhoeal Effect of Dragon's Blood". [Phytotherapy Research 15, 319-322 (2001)].
A couple of the studies have been interesting. I'll mention them briefly just because this is really more of a medicinal than nutritive product.
There was a study published in the Journal of Inflammation, hoping to get a handle on osteoarthritis, a very frustrating condition to which modern medicine has little to offer. When people get knee replacements, what do you think they do with the old knees? Well, at Case Western they gathered them all up -- all that human cartilage -- to see if they could decrease the rate of cartilage loss in a test tube with a drop or two of dragon's blood. And indeed, in the context of inflammation this cartilage starts breaking down, but you add some sap extract and you can drop that way down. Now the study was performed by the owner of the company that -- you guessed it -- sells dragon blood extract, though, so you've got to take the findings with a grain of salt.
Also apparently effective at getting cancer cells to kill themselves, here are three lines of human gastrointestinal cancer cells. Add a little bit of that red maple syrup and you can see the cancer cells wither away as their DNA breaks up. It may also prevent DNA damage in the first place. Here are corn seedlings, the control is on the left, and then a little then a lot of a mutagenic toxin which shrivels the poor things. But you add a little sap to the roots and the effects of the toxin are blunted.
After all, a single drop of this stuff is equivalent to three apples' worth of antioxidants. But unfortunately there were other tests not funded by a company that sells it that showed in certain circumstances dragon's blood could also cause DNA mutations.
So, the winner: for the most antioxidant-packed, non-contaminated, non-mutagenic whole food on the planet: the dried Indian gooseberry powder [amla].
To see any graphs, charts, graphics, images, and quotes to which Dr. Greger may be referring, watch the above video. This is transcript contributed by Bruce A. Hamilton.
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In honor of the Chinese New Year (of the dragon)! Please feel free to post any ask-the-doctor type questions here in the comments section and I’d be happy to try to answer them. Be sure to check back for the other videos on amla and don't miss all the videos where we rank foods. And there are 1,449 subjects covered in the rest of my videos–please feel free to explore them!
For some context, please check out my associated blog post, Acai to Zucchini: antioxidant food rankings.