Phytochemicals: The Nutrition Facts Missing from the Label

Phytochemicals: The Nutrition Facts Missing from the Label
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There are thousands of flavonoid phytonutrients in fruits, vegetables, and other whole plant foods missing from the nutrition labels that may play a role in delaying the onset of Alzheimer’s disease.

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It’s one thing to show Alzheimer’s benefits in a petri dish. It’s quite another to show benefit in a human population. That came two years later. About 1,800 people were followed for about eight years. At the beginning of the study, they asked how often everybody drank any kind of juice, and then sat back and watched to see who would get Alzheimer’s. By the end of the study, it appeared that those who drank fruit and vegetable juices had a 76% lower risk of developing Alzheimer’s. They conclude that “fruit and vegetable juices may play an important role in delaying the onset of Alzheimer’s disease.”

What could it be? Here’s the nutrition facts label for purple grape juice, on the left. According to the labels, there’s basically nothing in it. Not even any vitamin C. And indeed, that’s what the study found, even after controlling for antioxidant vitamin intake—vitamin E, vitamin C, beta carotene; still, a quarter the risk of Alzheimers. Based on the nutrition label, you’d think it was just sugar water, practically indistinguishable from Coca Cola. In fact, it’s got even more sugar—nine spoonfuls per cup compared to seven in Coke. But it just looks like sugar water, because the labels don’t list phytonutrients. If they did, the Coke label would remain the same, but the grape juice label would spill down, and roll along the floor like Santa’s list. And this would be like the first page of the list. There are thousands of phytonutrients in fruits and vegetables, missing in junk foods and animals foods, yet never listed on the labels.

The leading candidate class of compounds responsible for the protection against Alzheimer’s are the phenolics, like flavones, and flavonones, and flavonols, which in many cases can rapidly cross the blood-brain barrier. There are more than 5,000 different types of flavonoids in the plants we eat. Research suggests that within minutes of biting into an apple, for example, these phytonutrients are already starting to light up our brain.

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 Peter Mellor.

Please consider volunteering to help out on the site.

Nutritional data and images courtesy of NutritionData.com. Images thanks to EasyBuy4u.

It’s one thing to show Alzheimer’s benefits in a petri dish. It’s quite another to show benefit in a human population. That came two years later. About 1,800 people were followed for about eight years. At the beginning of the study, they asked how often everybody drank any kind of juice, and then sat back and watched to see who would get Alzheimer’s. By the end of the study, it appeared that those who drank fruit and vegetable juices had a 76% lower risk of developing Alzheimer’s. They conclude that “fruit and vegetable juices may play an important role in delaying the onset of Alzheimer’s disease.”

What could it be? Here’s the nutrition facts label for purple grape juice, on the left. According to the labels, there’s basically nothing in it. Not even any vitamin C. And indeed, that’s what the study found, even after controlling for antioxidant vitamin intake—vitamin E, vitamin C, beta carotene; still, a quarter the risk of Alzheimers. Based on the nutrition label, you’d think it was just sugar water, practically indistinguishable from Coca Cola. In fact, it’s got even more sugar—nine spoonfuls per cup compared to seven in Coke. But it just looks like sugar water, because the labels don’t list phytonutrients. If they did, the Coke label would remain the same, but the grape juice label would spill down, and roll along the floor like Santa’s list. And this would be like the first page of the list. There are thousands of phytonutrients in fruits and vegetables, missing in junk foods and animals foods, yet never listed on the labels.

The leading candidate class of compounds responsible for the protection against Alzheimer’s are the phenolics, like flavones, and flavonones, and flavonols, which in many cases can rapidly cross the blood-brain barrier. There are more than 5,000 different types of flavonoids in the plants we eat. Research suggests that within minutes of biting into an apple, for example, these phytonutrients are already starting to light up our brain.

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 Peter Mellor.

Please consider volunteering to help out on the site.

Nutritional data and images courtesy of NutritionData.com. Images thanks to EasyBuy4u.

Doctor's Note

Be sure to check out all my other videos on phytonutrients, including yesterday’s: Amyloid and apple juice.

Also, check out my associated blog posts for more context: Alzheimer’s Disease: Up to half of cases potentially preventableFighting Inflammation with Food SynergyAntioxidants in a Pinch: Dried Herbs and SpicesEating Green to Prevent Cancer; and Is Caffeinated Tea Really Dehydrating?

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

16 responses to “Phytochemicals: The Nutrition Facts Missing from the Label

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  1. I wonder how well all of these phytochemicals do with various forms of cooking processes, seeing as studies have only been done for a few of them, such as lycopene? Does anyone have any information on this?




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  2. Hi Dr. Greger, I was just wondering if the juice was standard bottled/tetra pack juice or was it fresh pressed. I assume that fresh pressed would be best but I’m hoping packaged juices hold some benefit because they are obviously much more accessible!

    I love your videos!!! I’m hungry for health information!!

    Lesley




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  3. I am a bit confused about the benefits of fruit or vegetable juice. I have seen some posts that insist that they ARE basically little more than sugary water and that the only real way to get benefits from fruits and vegetables is to eat them in their natural state, not as juices that have much of the nutrients (fiber, pulp, etc.) removed. So should I consider something like orange juice, tomato juice and apple juice “healthful” or not? Thanks …




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  4. Could you please suggest a good Mouth wash that prevents tooth decade/cavities or kills bacteria and where it is available ? Thanks!




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    1. Naresh: There is a very interesting video about green tea that is coming up on NutritionFacts and that has to do with your question. Stay tuned!




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  5. Nutrition label question:
    I like to know the % of carbs or fat that composes a serving, but why don’t these two methods give the same result??

    Let’s use the label at 1:10 of this video — Serving is 253g, 152 calories per serving and 37g of carbohydrates per serving.

    37g/253g = 14,6% carbs per serving

    compared to

    1g of carbs = 4cal therefor 37g of carbs = 148cal
    148cal/152cal = 97% cars per serving




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    1. Those two calculations answer different questions.
      The first question – what is the percentage of weight in the juice comes from carbs? the answer – 14.6% – the rest is mainly WATER that have no calories (meaning – we do not produce energy from water)
      The second question – what is the percentage of calories in the juice comes from carbs? the answer – 97% – the rest being tiny amounts of protein and fat.
      This second answer is mostly used in nutrition when saying stuff like – “fruit is 90% carbs” – meaning 90 of the calories comes from carbohydrate.




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