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Maxing Out on Antioxidants

Are there diminishing returns when it comes to whole food antioxidants?

January 6, 2010 |
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Supplementary Info

Sources Cited


Image thanks to sanchom.


These phytonutrients are wonderful, but is there a concern that our bodies can only absorb a certain amount of antioxidants at one time, so we should kind of spread out our fruit and vegetable consumption. Like the law of diminishing returns—maybe you absorb all the phytonutrients in that first cup of strawberries, but if you eat two cups at one sitting, maybe absorption kind of plateaus, so maybe it’s better to eat one cup now and the second in a few hours. We finally have some data: is that fact, or fiction?
Fiction. Here’s about one, two, and four cup strawberry “treatments” and the more you eat, the more you benefit, with no end in sight.

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 veganmontreal.

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Dr. Michael Greger

Doctor's Note

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. And check out theother videos on antioxidants. Also, there are 1,449 other subjects covered in the rest of my videos--please feel free to explore them as well!

For some context, please check out my associated blog posts: Acai to Zucchini: antioxidant food rankings and Strawberries Can Reverse Cancer Progression

  • Michael Greger M.D.

    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. And check out the other videos on antioxidants. Also, there are 1,449 other subjects covered in the rest of my videos–please feel free to explore them as well!

  • hsroex

    I found an interesting article on strawberries and it is overwhelming to see how many different nutrients and phytochemicals are present in just a strawberry, even a decent amount of fiber.
    Enjoy the berry and the article :)

    • Toxins

       Thanks for the great link!

  • Guest

    I’ve found some articles online citing this study, I think, from Kansas State. The articles claim this study says that too many antioxidants can be a BAD thing. Thoughts?

    • Toxins

      Keep in mind this study was done with rats, not humans and the antioxidants were supplemented, and not obtained through food. As of now, we know that humans need as much antioxidants as one can consume through diet and there are only benefits that come along with a high antioxidant diet.

      • Guest


        • GilbowH

          I am curious of any negative effect of  Red Drink Powder sold by Trader Joe’s. It is a concentration of 51 dried fruits, seeds, berries etc. No supplements or chemicals added. It has many times the anti-oxidants score that is found on ORAC. I have not been able to determine who the producer is. Does anyone have any info on this ?

  • pprender

    Could you please comment on the recent statement by James Watson (DNA discoverer) that antioxidants can actually cause cancer.

  • Derrek

    Can you eat too many fruits in a day or at a time? I heard eating large amounts of fruit causes your liver to store some as fat. Is this true? I just didn’t want to eat too many fruits at one time if it had negative effects.

    • Toxins

      The fibers in fruit allow fructose to be slowly drawn to the liver so it is not overwhelmed all at once. Eating a lot of fruit is not a concern.

  • Derrek

    I get a yeast smell and don’t eat hardly any processed food. Just fruits and veggies. Should I lay off the fruit or what else would you recommend as I’m vegan and eat lots of veggies? I also have dandruff. Any advice?

  • breffni

    Dr. Greger, please comment on this latest article of the possible adverse effects of too much antioxidants