Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Current advertising touts pomegranates as an "antioxidant superpower,"

Pomegranate and pomegranate juice have quickly become the latest health food craze.
Makers of one of the latest health crazes jauntily note "Not all Miracle Workers are People."

Can it really, as they say, "amaze your cardiologist?"
Well, possibly, but so can eating five to 10 servings of fresh fruits and vegetables a day, according to Toronto nutritionist Susan Fyshe.
The highly reactive radicals bounce around and can damage cellular components like DNA or cell membranes, causing cells to function poorly or die.
Simple activity causes free radicals, as does exercise, certain foods we consume and pollution.

Antioxidants are molecules that interact with free radicals and help prevent that cellular damage --- the common pathway for cancer, aging and a host of other diseases.

To measure antioxidants, nutritionists use a scale called the Oxygen Radical Absorbance Capacity (ORAC).

Nigella Lawson --- the famous chef who makes all food sexy --- puts together an antioxidant salad, with blueberries, pomegranates and mangos.
Fyshe cautions that much is being discovered about antioxidants and many are unidentified.

"That's why we have such a hard time putting these things in supplements," she says.
Different sources categorize antioxidants in different ways, so there's little consistency, she says.

"It's such a rapidly growing area, they're discovering new antioxidants all the time.
There's so many of them that even scientists group them into different categories.
"We're sort of in our infancy in this whole area, discovering all these different components and foods," Fyshe says.

She uses apples as an example, noting that 20 years ago apples were not considered very nutritious, only because that popular fruit didn't have the highest amount of nutrients known about at that time.



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