Even nine servings of fruits and vegetables a day may not reach the minimum recommended intake of antioxidants if one doesn’t make the right choices.
Images thank to Anthro_aya, Fritzmb, Cogdogblog via Flickr and Brian Arthur, Sanjay Acharya and Henna via Wikimedia Commons. Thanks to Ellen Reid for her image-finding expertise and Jeff Thomas for his Keynote help.
To get up to our daily minimum of 8-11,000 antioxidant units a day, all you have to do is eat lots of fruits and vegetables, right? Well, let's see. Let's say I ate a whole banana during breakfast (in addition to whatever else I ate). Lunch included a typical American salad—iceberg lettuce, half a cup of cucumber slices, and canned peaches for dessert., Supper included a side serving of peas and carrots and half a cup of snap peas along with yet another salad a. And a cup of watermelon for dessert. I just ate nine servings of fruits and vegetables, feeling all good about myself and only made it up to 2700, less than a quarter of the way to my minimum daily recommended intake. What am I supposed to do, eat 36 servings a day?
Well, what if instead of that banana, I had a single serving of blueberries. Whoa, we gotta squish down the scale. And instead of iceberg lettuce for that afternoon salad, four leaves of red leaf lettuce, maybe throw some kidney beans on top, maybe sprinkle on a teaspoon of dried oregano as a bonus. An apple and some dates for a snack. It's not even suppertime, I really just did 5 servings and I've left the minimum recommended daily intake of antioxidants in the dust. That’s why it’s not just quantity of fruits and veggies that matters, but quality. We should try to choose the healthiest ones.
So if we do that can we now skip fruits and veggies for supper? Not a good idea: note these estimated minimum antioxidant needs do not take into account the added amounts needed if other oxidant stressors are present such as meat consumption, if you're sicksickness, cigarette smoke, air pollution, sleep deprivation—then just to stay out of oxidative debt we'd have to consume a lot more.
Remember that cool argon laser study? Their most important finding was that antioxidant levelscan plummet within 2 hours of a stressful event. Takes 2 hours to lose,and can take up to 3 days to get our levels back up again. So the take-home message is that especially when we’re sick, stressed, or tired, to we should go above and beyond the minimum 8 to 11 thousand. I, ideally we need to be soaking our bloodstream with antioxidants, which means high-powered fruits and vegetables at every meal like berries and beans and sipping something like green tea or hibiscus all day long.
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.
To help out on the site please email firstname.lastname@example.org.
This is that laser study I talked about: Antioxidant Level Dynamics.
What do I mean by daily minimum of antioxidants? You must have missed my last video, Minimum Recommended Daily Allowance of Antioxidants.
I used a similar technique to illustrate the potent antioxidant power of spices. See Antioxidants in a Pinch.
I have a series of videos on which foods have the most antioxidants. See Antioxidant Content of 3,139 Foods and Antioxidant Power of Plant Foods Versus Animal Foods. Note these are measured based on test tube tests. There are more sophisticated ways to measure antioxidant activity. See Anti Up on the Veggies.
Are there diminishing returns to getting too many antioxidants? See Maxing Out on Antioxidants.
So if we have that bowl of berries in the morning to meet our minimum daily antioxidant needs can we just call it a day?. Hint: the title of my next video is: Antioxidant Rich Foods With Every Meal.
If you haven't yet, you can subscribe to my videos for free by clicking here.