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The Truth About Antioxidants

The Truth About Antioxidants

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Lately, researchers and nutritionists have begun to raise doubts about the true health benefits of antioxidants after debunking one myth that consuming antioxidants could increase a woman’s chance of conceiving.

Antioxidants became a common household buzzword in the 1990s, when researchers began to link chronic diseases, like cancer, to the free radical damage caused by oxygen-based reactions. The antioxidants found in certain fruits and vegetables then became a powerful weapon against chronic disease, as they could naturally stabilize the free radicals.

Since the 90’s, antioxidants have taken off in popularity, with certain processed products on the market now able to earn a “high in antioxidants” label. Nutritionists warn, however, that more isn’t necessarily better when it comes to antioxidants.

One common misconception is that antioxidants take a single form, and scientists, like the toxicology researchers from the Maastricht University in the Netherlands, are working to debunk the “all-or-nothing beliefs about antioxidants.”

As with the controversy over fiber, advertisements and marketing techniques have created a culture in which people now believe that foods promoted as having antioxidants or as “superfruits” can cure all of their ailments and make them healthier without requiring them to make any further lifestyle changes.

These researchers note that you can consume antioxidants in a range of forms, from nutrients like vitamin C, vitamin E, and beta-carotene, to minerals like selenium, which all can have a different effects on your body’s cells. Like all vitamins and minerals, antioxidants are a key part of a healthy diet when consumed in moderation.

Try incorporating natural sources of antioxidants, like cranberries, tomatoes, and peppers into your diet to get your fix.

Is La Croix bad for you? The truth about fruit-flavored waters

There's no doubt that drinking lots of water is good for us. The many benefits of staying properly hydrated include glowing skin, enhanced mental function, a healthy immune system and the ability to recover faster after a good workout. While tap water is the simplest and cheapest way to hydrate, even die-hard water drinkers will admit that plain water can sometimes get a little, well, plain . and boring.

Enter fruity, flavorful and oh-so-fun enhanced waters. Plenty of companies are jumping on the fact that Americans want less sugary beverages and are flooding the market with specialty waters. In 2017, the enhanced water market grew to $3.7 billion in sales, according to Beverage Marketing Corporation’s DrinkTell Database. And it's continuing to climb.

But what's really in them and are they still as healthy as plain H2O? TODAY Food took a deeper dive into the flavored-water pool.

Here are more health benefits of some popular herbs and spices:

• Rosemary and basil–anti-inflammatory.
• Cumin, turmeric and sage–fight dementia.
• Cayenne, coriander and cinnamon–burn fat and help regulate insulin.
• Lemon grass, nutmeg, bay leaves and saffron–have a calming effect.
• Turmeric—fights cancer.
• Oregano—antifungal and antibacterial.
• Garlic, mustard seed and chicory–excellent for the heart.
• Basil and thyme–help skin become soft and smooth.
• Turmeric, basil, cinnamon, thyme, saffron, garlic and ginger–boost the
immune system.
• Coriander, rosemary, cayenne, allspice and black pepper–banish depression.
• Garlic, cumin, fennel, coriander and mint have been used traditionally to help treat digestive disorders.

So you see, healthy food does not have to bland and boring, so spice it up, and boost your health as well! Add your favorite herbs and spices to this delicious vegetable soup!

5 Myths About Antioxidants

It's billed as an epic story of good versus evil&mdashbiology in comic-book form. The villains: free radicals, those nefarious DNA-attacking poisons of modern life. Our fearless defenders: antioxidants, poised to protect us from&mdashwell, everything, right? You've heard the claims:

They supercharge your immune system!

But while we think we know what antioxidants do, few of us know what antioxidants actually are. And food manufacturers are fine with that the less you know, the more likely you are to swallow the hype. "Antioxidants have a health aura around them," says Marion Nestle, Ph.D., M.P.H., a professor of nutrition, food studies, and public health at New York University. "They are supposed to fight something bad in your body. Who wouldn't want to consume more of a helper like that?"

There's no doubt that antioxidants can be good for you. But to maximize their benefit, we first have to strip away some assumptions.

Free Radicals Must Be Destroyed

Not so fast.

The basics: Antioxidants fight free radicals, which are unstable molecules in the body that can cause DNA mutation. Even though free radicals have been linked to serious conditions like heart disease, Parkinson's, and cancer, they aren't necessarily villains--they're by-products of a basic metabolic process called oxidation. "They're absolutely essential to life," says Jeffrey Blumberg, Ph.D., director of the antioxidants lab at Tufts University. "For example, immune cells will shoot free radicals onto invading bacteria in order to kill them. They're an important part of the body's defenses."

Too many free radicals, on the other hand, are harmful. Pollutants, cigarette smoke, and sun overexposure can generate so many free radicals that your normal antioxidant defenses become overwhelmed, leaving you vulnerable to cell damage and disease. Some researchers also link free-radical oxidation with aging.

That's where antioxidants come in. "We need to make sure we have adequate antioxidant defenses to combat all the excess free radicals," says Blumberg.

Do this: Assuming you've curbed bad habits such as smoking and excessive tanning, turn to your diet. If you eat a wide variety of fruits and vegetables, your diet is naturally rich in thousands of antioxidants. Studies suggest eating at least five servings of fruits and vegetables a day to reap the most health benefits.

All Antioxidants Are Created Equal

Not even close.

Any molecule that protects your cells against oxidation is technically an antioxidant, says Joe Vinson, Ph.D., a professor of chemistry at the University of Scranton, in Pennsylvania. "They're anti-oxidation." This includes familiar nutrients, like vitamins, as well as more unfamiliar types of antioxidants, like flavonoids and polyphenols&mdashabout 8,000 varieties in all.

But don't assume that all antioxidants operate the same way, Blumberg warns. "You can't say, 'Well, I'm not going to worry about taking in enough vitamin E, because I take lots of vitamin C.' All the vitamin C in the world won't substitute for vitamin E," says Blumberg. Some antioxidants excel at fighting certain types of free radicals (yep, there are different varieties of those, too) while others are effective only in specific parts of a cell. Still others can battle free radicals only under the right conditions.

"Think of antioxidants as an army," he says. "You need generals, lieutenants, corporals, privates, and others with specific duties. You can't fight an enemy with only generals." So how do you create an effective defense system in the battle for your life? By building a multipronged counteroffensive&mdasher, diet.

Do this: Branch out and try something new in the produce aisle. In a 2006 study, researchers at Colorado State University found that people who ate the widest variety of fruits and vegetables had the most DNA protection.

All Antioxidants Come from Fruits and Vegetables

The entire plant kingdom&mdashincluding beans, nuts, seeds, and grains&mdashis awash in antioxidants, according to a recent study from the University of Scranton. That's because all plants produce antioxidants to fight against predators and UV rays, says Vinson. It's important to steer clear of refined grains, though they've been stripped of most of their antioxidant benefits.

Even meat, dairy products, and eggs contain some antioxidants, which mainly come from the nutrient-rich plants the animals fed on.

Do this: Eat whole-grain foods, beans, nuts, and seeds regularly. When animals are on the menu, make sure they've been grass-fed meat and dairy products from these better-fed beasts have been shown to contain higher levels of antioxidants. Eggs from pastured hens also rank higher in antioxidants&mdashlook for them at farmers' markets.

Antioxidant-Fortified Foods Are Healthier

The ink was barely dry on early antioxidant studies when food companies started slapping the A-word on their packaging. You can even chug an antioxidant-fortified version of Cherry 7UP. The FDA requires food manufacturers to list the variety of antioxidant in a product that part is often in fine print. Look closely, and the label reveals that you're receiving a tiny helping of vitamin E. Perhaps "Cherry 7UP Vitamin E" didn't sound as impressive.

If you're relying on processed foods to supplement your antioxidant intake, you may be surprised to find that many processed foods have relatively small amounts of just one or two kinds. Since variety is critical, you probably aren't making up for lost ground.

Do this: Ignore the hype&mdashthere's no research to prove that packaged products provide the same health benefits that whole foods do. Instead, focus on the ingredient list. If a food product contains mostly plant foods, it's likely to be rich in antioxidants.

If I Exercise and Take Supplements, I'll Be Superfit

Working out leads to more oxidation and an increase in free radicals. That's not a bad thing. "Since free-radical production is a normal response to exercise, taking a large dose of antioxidants right after a workout could interfere with the natural, beneficial response to exercise," says nutritionist Alan Aragon, M.S., a Men's Health weight-loss expert. The logic is unexpected but clear: Scientists speculate that the oxidative stress triggered by exercise promotes insulin sensitivity and weight loss, and possibly reduces your risk of diabetes.

Case in point: A 2009 German study found that when exercisers took antioxidant supplements (vitamins C and E), they weren't rewarded with the typical postexercise boost in insulin sensitivity. So much for that well-intentioned antioxidant-fortified recovery drink. Michael Ristow, M.D., an author of the study and chairman of the department of human nutrition at the University of Jena, Germany, speculates that other antioxidant supplements might have similar negative effects, though more study is needed.

Supplements can even sap your power: A 2006 British study found that runners who took 1,000 milligrams of vitamin C daily for a week lost muscle strength.

Do this: If you're exercising to lose weight, your antioxidants should come from whole foods, not from supplements or antioxidant-enhanced food products. When it comes to antioxidants, more isn't always better.

How Antioxidants Work
Normal cellular processes&mdashas well as stressors like cigarette smoke and sunburn&mdashtrigger your body to produce excessive amounts of cell-damaging molecules called free radicals. Here's how antioxidants can come to the defense.

1. When a molecule loses an electron, it becomes a reactive free radical with an extra, unpaired electron.

2. The free radical tries to steal an electron from a nearby molecule to regain balance.

3. This can create another free radical, causing a chain reaction that can damage cell components, including DNA. This can lead to possible health problems ranging from a weakened immune system to cancer.

4. An antioxidant molecule can neutralize a free radical by giving up one of its own electrons. Unlike a free radical, it's able to maintain stability by redistributing its electrons.

Harmful substances in skin care products

There are a variety of potentially harmful elements found in many skin care products, such as toxic pesticides and preservatives, potentially harmful chemicals, products that are bad for the environment and parabens (which are a group of compounds used as preservatives in pharmaceutical and cosmetic products and in the food industry). The natural skin care movement aims to avoid any potentially harmful ingredients in products applied to the skin.

The problem is, there isn&rsquot definitive research indicating that all synthetic ingredients are harmful. Furthermore, products branded &ldquonatural&rdquo as a marketing tactic aren&rsquot regulated and can contain the exact same synthetic ingredients as any other product.

With so many products and ingredients on the market, it can be challenging for the common consumer to discern what is or isn&rsquot harmful. Even if you can find a 100 percent organic, all-natural product, there&rsquos no guarantee those products won&rsquot cause skin irritation.

If You Are Considering Antioxidant Supplements

  • Do not use antioxidant supplements to replace a healthy diet or conventional medical care, or as a reason to postpone seeing a health care provider about a medical problem.
  • If you have age-related macular degeneration, consult your health care providers to determine whether supplements of the type used in the AREDS trial are appropriate for you.
  • If you are considering a dietary supplement, first get information on it from reliable sources. Keep in mind that dietary supplements may interact with medications or other supplements and may contain ingredients not listed on the label. Your health care provider can advise you. If you are pregnant or nursing a child, or if you are considering giving a child a dietary supplement, it is especially important to consult your (or your child’s) health care provider.
  • Tell all of your health care providers about any complementary health approaches you use. Give them a full picture of what you do to manage your health. This will help ensure coordinated and safe care.

Top 10 Antioxidant Rich Pet Foods

Media hype about antioxidants benefits for pets and people is swarming! Press releases dictated by pet food corporate giants warn dog and cat owners about the many dangers of feeding human food to pets, thereby protecting their bottom line, regardless of actual validity. Pet owners are desperately seeking the truth about what’s best to feed their cherished companions. Trying to sort out pet food facts can be confusing and many pet owners have unanswered questions about exactly what’s right and what’s not.

Are there human foods naturally rich in antioxidants, that are both safe and beneficial for your pet’s health? ORAC or what is referred to as the oxygen radical absorbance capacity is what pet nutritional experts use to determined the antioxidant value of a specific food. A recently published a study in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry, offered the foods listed below as having very high antioxidant qualities.

Top Antioxidant Rich Food Sources for Pets & People:

  • Beans: Red kidney, Pinto and Black beans(dried)
  • Berries: Small red beans (or Mexican red bean-dried), Cranberries, Blueberries, Raspberries, Strawberries
  • Prunes
  • Apples: Red delicious, Gala and Granny Smith
  • Pecans
  • Plums and Black plums
  • Russet potatoes (cooked)
  • Cabbage
  • Broccoli
  • Barley grasses

Feeding dogs and cats high quality, home-made pet diets and choosing fresh organic pet treats, helps dogs and cats benefit from the wide range of antioxidants, these nutrients offer.

For example, raspberries and strawberriescontain ellagitannin, a substance that helps prevent the growth of cancerous pet cells. Pecans contain potassium. Pinto beans and kidney beans contain high amount of folate, or vitamin B9, which lowers homocysteine levels, implicated in heart disease. Blueberries contain anthocyanis, shown to protect pet brain cells.

Most antioxidant rich foods lose some of their antioxidant properties when cooked or processed, the exception being tomatoes.Tomatoes contain lycopene, which is actually enhanced by cooking. Research indicates that proper pet diets alone do not appear to be sufficient to maintain the antioxidant levels, needed to prevent pet disease or optimize health and wellness in dogs or cats Adding natural, comprehensive, balanced pet vitamin supplements to your dog and cat’s diet daily is extremely beneficial not only to prevent disease but also to optimize your dog and cat’s health, wellness and longevity. Why spend your hard earned dollars at the local veterinary emergency clinic because of tainted pet food? When it comes to to your pet’s health, take a little extra time, research and do your homework. Don’t be fooled by fancy pet food labels or scared by marketing hype directed at dog and cat owners by the corporate pet food giants.

Author: Dr. Carol Osborne

Chagrin Falls Veterinary Center & Pet Clinic with Dr. Carol Osborne. Located in Chagrin Falls, Ohio at 530 East Washington Street. Chagrin Falls Veterinary Center & Pet Clinic is operated by Veterinarian & Pet Celebrity Dr. Carol Osborne, the Integrative Pet Wellness Center offers traditional & natural alternative pet health products & therapies for dogs & cats.

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Not surprisingly, those foods are raw and natural which is very essentials for dog nutrition need especially for growing pups and sick or old dogs.. We immediately switch to raw diet because of many allergies and upset stomach our dog developed from commercial food.

While we are in the area of Top 10 Antioxidant Rich Pet Foods | Dr. Carols Naturally Healthy Pets Blog,

My 17 year old senior cat Sophia has been just diagnosed with CDs. I was told it might help to give her foods rich in antioxidants there’s a lot of controversy out there and I was also given a prescription of Gabapentin for her. When I lived in New York I visited a holistic vet who assisted me in creating a diet for a cat I used to own who was diagnosed with diabetes. I was wondering if I even found a holistic vet here in Florida, would there be be a guideline diet plan for cats with dementia. I would be willing to cook up whatever she needed as long as she would eat it she’s fussy.

Vitamin Mania: The Truth about Antioxidants

Studies showing the negative or null effects of vitamins supplements are so common that it is surprising doctors still find these studies to be surprising. Vitamins are not as simple as A-B-C.

The latest bit of confusion appears in the April 27 issue of the New England Journal of Medicine. Doctors in Australia provided nearly 1,900 pregnant women with either supplements of vitamins C and E or a placebo to see whether the vitamins would lower the risk of developing high blood pressure during pregnancy. It didn't work.

Surprisingly, the doctors said, the vitamin group had a slightly higher rate of high blood pressure compared to the placebo group.

We love our vitamins

The levels of vitamins C and E were greater than those found in an ordinary multivitamin tablet—1,000 milligrams of C and 400 IU of E, or roughly 10 and 20 times the recommended daily allowance. In an editorial accompanying the study, doctors said that supplements at these levels should not be prescribed routinely.

Americans spend about $2 billion a year on vitamins C and E, along with beta carotene (a precursor of vitamin A) and selenium, according to Nutrition Business Journal. These are the most popular antioxidants, a class of chemicals said to cure just about everything.

The trouble is, science can't seem to support the bad movie script created by the vitamin supplement industry.

No simple movie plot.

Here's the plot, a battle between good and evil: Rogue chemicals called free radicals roam about the body like brazen street punks, smashing cellular walls and roughing up innocent DNA molecules, causing cancers and the diseases of middle- and old-age. Their flagrant disregard for the law would continue unchecked if it weren't for swashbuckling antioxidants swooping in on the wings of vitamin supplements, disarming the free radicals of their menacing electrons and converting them into respectable molecular citizens.

But the body, it seems, is not governed by a Hollywood "B" script. Free radicals are as good as they are bad, and too many antioxidants may do the body harm.

It is true that antioxidants serve as sort of a rust protector for the body, stopping a process called oxidation. Important molecules in the body, such as those that form artery walls, become oxidized when they lose an electron. Once oxidized, they become unstable and easily break apart.

The culprit, without a doubt, is the free radical.

Free to destroy

Free radicals are highly reactive molecules or single atoms with unpaired electrons looking for a mate. So they steal an electron from the first thing they encounter, perhaps a cell wall or DNA. As free-radical damage mounts, cells can no longer perform properly. Disease sets in. An excess of free radicals has been cited in cardiovascular disease, Alzheimer's disease, Parkinson's disease and cancer.

Aging itself has been defined as a gradual accumulation of free-radical damage.

Yet free radicals are necessary for life. The body's ability to turn air and food into chemical energy depends on a chain reaction of free radicals. Free radicals are also a crucial part of the immune system, floating through the veins and attacking foreign invaders.

Hydrogen peroxide is a prime example of a free radical. Your blood actually contains trace amounts of hydrogen peroxide, an internal germ fighter. In fact, you could not fight bacteria without free radicals.

How antioxidants work is an utter mystery, which explains the contradicting results of very large and well-conducted studies in the past decade showing, for example, that vitamin E slowed the progress of coronary artery disease but increased the risk of a heart attack.

One thing that studies do reveal is that a diet rich in antioxidants, as opposed to supplements, is associated with lower rates of cancer and circulatory disease. Richard Veech of the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, whom I interviewed a few years ago, sums it up best, I think:

"People don't want to exercise," he said. "They don't want to eat healthy food. They don't want to stop drinking they don't want to stop smoking they don't want to stop having dangerous sex. They want to take a pill. Well, good luck."

Christopher Wanjek is the author of the books &ldquoBad Medicine&rdquo and &ldquoFood At Work.&rdquo Got a question about Bad Medicine? Email Wanjek. If it’s really bad, he just might answer it in a future column. Bad Medicine appears each Tuesday on LIveScience.

The Truth About Detox Tea Cleanses

You probably know about the health benefits of tea (hello, antioxidants!), but are the health claims around detox teas legit?

We&aposre wary of any trend that involves detoxing with just a drink. By now, we&aposre all pretty aware that liquid diets can&apost sustain our active bodies for very long, and most of the drinks celebrities swear by have little actual detoxifying effects. But a teatox, or tea detox or tea cleanse, is a gentler approach to the whole idea, namely because it involves adding a few herbal cups to your existing, healthy diet-instead of replacing meals entirely.

The idea of detox teas isn&apost new: Giuliana Rancic famously used the Ultimate Tea Diet to lose seven pounds before her 2007 wedding, while Kendall Jenner recently attributed her runway-ready figure to her tea addiction (she reportedly has almost a dozen cups of detox branded lemongrass-and-green-tea blend a day!).

The Health Benefits of Tea

Tea&aposs health benefits cover almost every territory: A 2013 study analysis from Italian, Dutch, and American researchers found that tea may help lower your risk of stroke and heart disease, lower your blood pressure, increase mood and mental performance, and even keep your energy up and weight down.

But when it comes to detoxification, tea alone isn&apost enough for the job. "No one food, herb, or remedy has the ability to cure ailments or disease, nor does it have the ability to �tox&apos the body," says Manuel Villacorta, R.D, author of Whole Body Reboot: The Peruvian Superfoods Diet to Detoxify, Energize, and Supercharge Fat Loss. (This is also why you might want to hold off before trying to detox by drinking activated charcoal.)

In fact, there is no hard evidence backing the claims made by tea companies that their detox teas actually purify human cells. However, high-quality teas can help support the body&aposs natural daily process of detoxification-just as much as other foods and drinks can hurt this system, says Laura Lagano, R.D., a New Jersey-based holistic nutritionist. (Discover more about the health benefits of teas such as chamomile, rosehip, or black tea.)

Basic green and black teas are rich in antioxidants (and matcha green tea is more than 100 times higher in one powerful antioxidant)-the secret behind boosting your natural cleansing process. "Antioxidants work to reduce the oxidative stress and free radicals in our body, too much of which can cause chronic inflammation and even mutate our DNA strains, leading to cancer and other chronic diseases," says Villacorta.

Detox Teas

If green and black tea are helpful in their own, pure form, is there any upside to those bags branded explicitly for detoxing?

"Specific detox teas offer added benefits in the additional ingredients," says Villacorta. Herbs like lemongrass, ginger, dandelion, and milk thistle all contain properties said to support a healthy liver, one of those organs in charge of your natural detoxifying process. Ginger has also been proven to alleviate oxidative stress within the liver, which indirectly helps the organ perform its cleaning task more efficiently, he says.

One thing to watch out for in detox teas, though, is a common ingredient-and herbal laxative-senna. "One part of detoxing is the cleansing of the intestines, and senna aids this process," he explains. While it can be helpful as a night-time drink short-term, taking senna for too long can cause vomiting, diarrhea, electrolyte imbalance, and dehydration. If you feel stopped up, incorporate a senna tea for a few nights (Villacorta recommends Traditional Medicinals Organic Smooth Move). But stick to senna-free varieties for your habitual cup.

How to Get the Most Health Benefits from Tea

Both nutritionists we spoke to agree that drinking tea when you wake up and before bed can help your system rev up and calm down, depending on which variety you choose. If you&aposre a tea fanatic, work in a few cups throughout the day: Unless you&aposre sensitive to caffeine, you can probably handle five to seven cups a day without any negative side effects, says Lagano.

If you do choose to try a tea detox, the most important aspect isn&apost the kind of healthy tea you choose-it&aposs what else you eat: "Tea can only be medicinal and detoxifying if your diet isn&apost taxing your system, which most American meals are guilty of," says Lagano. In order to truly detoxify your body, cut processed and fried foods, and up your intake of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, lean proteins, and anti-inflammatory fats like avocados and almonds, says Villacorta. Once your diet is clean and gentle on your body, detoxifying teas can begin to enhance your natural organ function.

So what are the best detox teas to choose? If you&aposre really focused on a start-and-stop teatox (rather than just incorporating detox teas into your diet), check out programs like SkinnyMe Tea, which offers 14- or 28-day packages of high-quality, loose-leaf herbs to steep. Or save a little cash and try one of these four off-the-shelf detoxifying varieties, recommended by Lagano and Villacorta.

The Truth About Phytates

Grains play a vital role in a balanced diet—but they also contain a controversial compound.

For years we&rsquove been told that for better health we need to eat more whole grains. Has this advice actually been detrimental to our health?

Grains, which are packed with beneficial nutrients such as fiber and protein, play a vital role in a balanced diet. But grains also contain a high proportion of phytates, a compound that has recently been criticized by nutritionists because of its ability to hinder the body&rsquos absorption of certain key minerals.

To better understand phytates and the related health concerns for home cooks, I spoke to Kelly Toups, director of nutrition at Whole Grains Council, a Boston-based advocacy group established in 2003, which works to help consumers better understand the health benefits of whole grains.

Phytates are a compound found in almost all plants, but there is a higher percentage in nuts, edible seeds, beans/legumes, and grains, where they act as energy storage for a future plant. Phytates are referred to as &ldquoantinutrients&rdquo because they &ldquobind to minerals, like iron, calcium, zinc, and magnesium, and make it more difficult for our bodies to be able to absorb them,&rdquo Toups said. It&rsquos this mineral-binding effect that leads some to think that eating grains will lead to a mineral deficiency.

Toups thinks this deficiency is an issue only if &ldquoyou don&rsquot have a lot of variety in your diet&rdquo or &ldquoare suffering from a very high level of food insecurity.&rdquo For &ldquohome cooks that have access to a grocery store&rdquo and a varied diet, the shortage shouldn&rsquot be an issue.

She also points out the benefits. &ldquoPhytates are found in really healthy food groups, foods that are strongly and consistently associated with the reduced risk of chronic disease. So generally speaking, a higher-phytates diet would tend to be a healthier diet.&rdquo There is also research underway showing that phytates have &ldquocancer-preventative properties, antioxidant properties, as well the ability to prevent kidney stones.&rdquo

Lilian Cheung, a lecturer at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health&rsquos Department of Nutrition and the editorial director of the Nutrition Source, the school&rsquos nutrition website, was a little more cautious in her approach to phytates. She said that phytates can be a problem for &ldquothose already at risk for nutrient deficiencies.&rdquo For people with osteoporosis, a calcium deficiency, anemia, or an iron deficiency, monitoring their intake of phytates is important. Cheung also included vegetarians and vegans in this group, saying, &ldquoWhen people are vegans and vegetarians, they need to be paying attention to the combinations of food they eat since some important minerals are less available.&rdquo

Although Cheung did advise caution, she provided some sound advice for anyone concerned with eating a phytate-rich diet: &ldquoYou want to avoid eating large amounts of a single food and separate the whole grains from other mineral-rich foods, so instead of a whole grain with your yogurt, chose some blueberries and eat the whole grain later.&rdquo She also stressed that the health benefits of eating plant-based foods, such as grains, outweighed any negative nutritional effects and that &ldquoin diets with a variety of plants and lean animal food, you don&rsquot really have to worry about phytates.&rdquo