Food Antioxidants, Stroke, & Heart Disease

Food Antioxidants, Stroke, & Heart Disease
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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.

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Below is an approximation of this video’s audio content. To see any graphs, charts, graphics, images, and quotes to which Dr. Greger may be referring, watch the above video.

The total antioxidant capacity of our diet may also be protective against stroke, in contradiction to all the pill studies that failed to show benefit. But, what they did in this study was take into account “all antioxidants present [in actual food] in the diet, including thousands of compounds, in doses obtained from a usual diet,” not one or two in high doses in pill form. 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, “[m]uscle 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 the industry advocating an additional decapitation step to reduce all that oxidation. But, if oxidation is the problem, antioxidants may be part of the solution.

“Total antioxidant capacity from diet and risk of [heart attack].” Well, we know antioxidant pills don’t work. While “[e]xtensive 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…[,] [e]xperimental data [has] not translated into clinical benefit. “[M]ost 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 [supposed] 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, “[i]n this large prospective population-based cohort study,” they “observed that higher total antioxidant capacity of diet was…associated with lower risk of incident [heart attack] in a dose-response manner”—meaning, potentially, the more high-antioxidant plant foods in our diet, the better.

Please consider volunteering to help out on the site.

Images thanks to Andrea.k.e and gliageek via flickr

Below is an approximation of this video’s audio content. To see any graphs, charts, graphics, images, and quotes to which Dr. Greger may be referring, watch the above video.

The total antioxidant capacity of our diet may also be protective against stroke, in contradiction to all the pill studies that failed to show benefit. But, what they did in this study was take into account “all antioxidants present [in actual food] in the diet, including thousands of compounds, in doses obtained from a usual diet,” not one or two in high doses in pill form. 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, “[m]uscle 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 the industry advocating an additional decapitation step to reduce all that oxidation. But, if oxidation is the problem, antioxidants may be part of the solution.

“Total antioxidant capacity from diet and risk of [heart attack].” Well, we know antioxidant pills don’t work. While “[e]xtensive 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…[,] [e]xperimental data [has] not translated into clinical benefit. “[M]ost 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 [supposed] 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, “[i]n this large prospective population-based cohort study,” they “observed that higher total antioxidant capacity of diet was…associated with lower risk of incident [heart attack] in a dose-response manner”—meaning, potentially, the more high-antioxidant plant foods in our diet, the better.

Please consider volunteering to help out on the site.

Images thanks to Andrea.k.e and gliageek via flickr

Nota del Doctor

What about antioxidants and cancer? That was the subject of my last video, Food Antioxidants & 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.

More on reducing stroke risk can be found in my videos Preventing Strokes with Diet and Whole Grains May Work As Well As Drugs.

I have dozens of other videos on heart disease. Check out Heart Disease Starts in Childhood and One in a Thousand: Ending the Heart Disease Epidemic for two of the more recent.

If you haven’t yet, you can subscribe to my videos for free by clicking here.

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