Over-Hyped Antioxidants

The latest buzzword in supermarkets is "antioxidants." These days you see it on all kinds of products. Consumer Reports looks beyond the hype to find out what you really need to know about antioxidants.

Blueberries are heavily marketed as a super source of antioxidants.

And in supermarkets, you see the word antioxidant everywhere. Snapple iced tea mix boasts "antioxidants." Tropicana Orange juice says it has an "antioxidant advantage." And even this bag of chips claims it "contains antioxidant power."

Dr. John Santa, Consumer Reports, says "Antioxidants are beneficial. They block the action of free radicals, which can damage healthy cells in your body and contribute to heart disease, cancer, and other illnesses."

But Consumer Reports' health experts says don't be taken in by packaged foods touting antioxidants.

Gayle Williams of Consumer Reports says, "A manufacturer can add antioxidants to food, but that doesn't mean it's a good source for what you need."

Take Kellogg's FiberPlus bars that say they are "rich in antioxidants, Vitamin E, and Zinc."

Williams says, "You can get more vitamin E from just one ounce of almonds, and you can get more zinc from just three ounces of lean beef."

And should you really focus on wild blueberries? Are they the "number one antioxidant fruit?"

Williams says, "There is no antioxidant "superfood." The best thing to do is eat a wide variety of foods that are naturally rich in antioxidants, like fruits, vegetables, and whole grains. Those will give you the biggest benefit.

As for antioxidant supplements, Consumer Reports says clinical trials of supplemental antioxidants haven't shown much real benefit, and even suggest some supplements could be harmful. So stick with food to get your antioxidants.

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