The oxidation of high-fat and cholesterol-rich foods in our stomachs may help explain why eating antioxidant packed foods appears to reduce heart attack and stroke risk.
Total antioxidant capacity of diet was also protective against stroke, in contradiction to all the pill studies that failed to show benefit. But see, what they did was take into account all antioxidants present in the diet, including thousands of compounds, in doses obtained from a usual diet. Stroke is the world's leading cause of death after heart disease.
The buildup of oxidized fat is considered the hallmark of fatty streak formation, the earliest manifestation of atherosclerotic plaques. Yes, the oxidation of fat can happen outside the body, every time we cook it, but oxidized fats are not only formed in foods, but may also be generated during digestion, especially in stomach acid. Our stomach may be like a bioreactor for the oxidation of high-fat, cholesterol-rich foods. See muscle foods contain large amounts of endogenous catalysts which accelerate fat oxidation. As poultry sits in our stomach, the oxidation may build up minute by minute.
See chickens are bled of only about half their blood, and the remaining residual can be a powerful promoter of fat oxidation, so there are those in industry advocating an additional decapitation step, but if oxidation is the problem, antioxidants can be part of the solution.
“Total antioxidant capacity from diet and risk of heart attack.” Well we know antioxidant pills don't work. While extensive experimental data have revealed a central role for oxidative stress in the stiffening of our arteries and suggested a potential role for ‘antioxidant’ treatment in cardiovascular disease, experimental data has not translated into clinical benefit. Most antioxidant vitamin trials have failed to reduce heart disease and death and may in fact even be detrimental. As a result, some have even questioned the supposedly central role of oxidative stress in the disease process, described as a critical blow to the whole free radical theory of aging, the fact that pills didn't work.
But high-dose single-antioxidant supplements are not a good substitute for the very complex antioxidant network of thousands of compounds in foods, present at concentrations far below those used in those pill trials. No one had ever looked at the overall effect of the complex antioxidant network in our diet in relation to our leading killer, coronary heart disease, until now. The total antioxidant capacity measures, in one single value, the free-radical-reducing capacity of all antioxidants present in foods and all the synergistic effects. And in this large prospective population-based cohort study, they observed that higher total antioxidant capacity of diet was statistically significantly associated with lower risk of incident heart attack in a dose-response manner, meaning, potentially, the more high antioxidant plant foods in one's diet, the better.
To see any graphs, charts, graphics, images, and quotes to which Dr. Greger may be referring, watch the above video. This is just an approximation of the audio contributed by Ariel Levitsky.
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What about antioxidants and cancer? That was the subject of my last video Food Antioxidants and Cancer.
Which foods have the highest antioxidant content? See:
It’s the heme iron in chicken blood that's implicated in fat oxidation in the stomach. That’s one of the targets of the Meat Additives to Diminish Toxicity.
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