How to Reach the Antioxidant “RDA”

How to Reach the Antioxidant “RDA”
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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.

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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.

To get up to our daily minimum of 8,000 to 11,000 antioxidant units a day, all we have to do is eat lots of fruits and vegetables, right? Well, let’s see. Let’s say I ate a whole banana for 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 a half a cup of snap peas, along with yet another salad. And, a cup of watermelon for dessert.

I just ate nine servings of fruits and vegetables, feeling all good about myself, and I only made it up to about 2,700—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 for breakfast? Whoa, my God, we gotta squish down the scale here. And instead of iceberg lettuce for that afternoon salad, four leaves of red leaf lettuce. Maybe throw some kidney beans on top. Maybe sprinkle 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 five servings, and I’ve left the minimum recommended daily intake of antioxidants in the dust. That’s why it’s not just the 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? We never even made it there. 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, or if we’re sick, cigarette smoke, air pollution, sleep deprivation. Then, just to stay out of oxidative debt, we’d have to consume a lot more than the minimum.

Remember that cool argon laser study? Their most important finding was that antioxidant levels can plummet within two hours of a stressful event. Takes two hours to lose, but can take up to three days to get our levels back up again. So, the take-home message is that especially when we’re sick, stressed, or tired, to go above and beyond the minimum 8,000 to 11,000, ideally, we need to be soaking our bloodstream with antioxidants—which means high-powered fruits and vegetables at every meal (like berries or beans), and sipping something (like green tea or hibiscus) all day long.

Please consider volunteering to help out on the site.

 

Images thank to Anthro_ayaFritzmb, and Cogdogblog via flickr; and Brian ArthurSanjay Acharya, and Henna via Wikimedia. Thanks to Ellen Reid for her image-finding expertise, and Jeff Thomas for his Keynote help.

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.

To get up to our daily minimum of 8,000 to 11,000 antioxidant units a day, all we have to do is eat lots of fruits and vegetables, right? Well, let’s see. Let’s say I ate a whole banana for 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 a half a cup of snap peas, along with yet another salad. And, a cup of watermelon for dessert.

I just ate nine servings of fruits and vegetables, feeling all good about myself, and I only made it up to about 2,700—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 for breakfast? Whoa, my God, we gotta squish down the scale here. And instead of iceberg lettuce for that afternoon salad, four leaves of red leaf lettuce. Maybe throw some kidney beans on top. Maybe sprinkle 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 five servings, and I’ve left the minimum recommended daily intake of antioxidants in the dust. That’s why it’s not just the 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? We never even made it there. 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, or if we’re sick, cigarette smoke, air pollution, sleep deprivation. Then, just to stay out of oxidative debt, we’d have to consume a lot more than the minimum.

Remember that cool argon laser study? Their most important finding was that antioxidant levels can plummet within two hours of a stressful event. Takes two hours to lose, but can take up to three days to get our levels back up again. So, the take-home message is that especially when we’re sick, stressed, or tired, to go above and beyond the minimum 8,000 to 11,000, ideally, we need to be soaking our bloodstream with antioxidants—which means high-powered fruits and vegetables at every meal (like berries or beans), and sipping something (like green tea or hibiscus) all day long.

Please consider volunteering to help out on the site.

 

Images thank to Anthro_ayaFritzmb, and Cogdogblog via flickr; and Brian ArthurSanjay Acharya, and Henna via Wikimedia. Thanks to Ellen Reid for her image-finding expertise, and Jeff Thomas for his Keynote help.

Nota del Doctor

For that laser study I talked about, see Antioxidant Level Dynamics.

What do I mean by daily minimum of antioxidants? Check out Minimum “Recommended Daily Allowance” of Antioxidants.

I used a similar technique to illustrate the potent antioxidant power of spices; see Antioxidants in a Pinch.

All fruits and veggies aren’t the same. I make this point in different ways in videos like Which Fruit Fights Cancer Better? and Anti-Inflammatory Antioxidants.

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 vs. Animal Foods. Note that these are measured based on test tube tests. There are more sophisticated ways to measure antioxidant activity; see Anti Up on the Veggies.

What’s the cheapest common source of whole food antioxidants? See Superfood Bargains for a dollar-per-dollar comparison. What’s the cheapest uncommon source? See Dragon’s Blood.

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? See Antioxidant-Rich Foods With Every Meal.

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

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