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More Proof That Whole Foods Are Better Than Supplements

New research suggests that oranges provide better antioxidant protection than vitamin C tablets. Fruits rich in vitamin C are powerful antioxidants that can protect cellular DNA from damage.

A research team gave test subjects either a glass of blood-orange juice, an equivalent amount of vitamin-C-fortified water, or sugar water (containing no vitamin C).

Blood plasma vitamin C levels went up after subjects drank both the juice and the fortified water.

But when their blood samples were then exposed to hydrogen peroxide, a substance known to cause DNA damage, the damage was significantly less in the samples taken from those who drank the orange juice.

In fruit, vitamin C exists in a matrix of other beneficial substances, which may all interact with each other.

Nature.com April 20, 2007

Dr. Mercola's Comment:

This is a great study, but one that may be easily misinterpreted, because to some it may seem to justify eating large amounts of fruits. While fruits are loaded with great nutrients, it is my belief that for most people, massive quantities will not move your health in the right direction.

If you are a carb nutritional type and healthy, large amounts of fruit are phenomenal for your health. But in my clinical experience this group is  under 15 percent of the population. The rest of you will do better with moderate consumption of fruit.

However, the study very elegantly demonstrates that whole food sources are clearly superior to the supplement form of vitamin C. In whole foods, there are a variety of accessory micronutrients that work synergistically with the primary one. It is very rare where the isolated nutrient will perform better than the whole food version.

That is why, if you choose to use supplements, it is nearly always better to use whole food concentrates, NOT supplements that contain isolated or, even worse, synthetic equivalents.

Also, please understand that this study does NOT prove that drinking juice is the healthiest choice.

If you choose to consume fruits, clearly the whole fruit is FAR better than the juice. What this study failed to do is analyze one additional group: those who ate the whole orange, including some of the skin under the peel, which is loaded with healthy bioflavanoids. If they had analyzed that group, I suspect it would have been exponentially better than the fruit juice.

Fruit juice can spike your blood sugar levels with a straight shot of fructose; in whole fruits, water-soluble fibers help to reduce this effect. So, if you choose to consume fruit, at least consume it in the whole version, NOT the juice.

Also please remember that the healthiest parts of fruits are the darkly colored skins and seeds. These are where the bulk of the beneficial antioxidants and micronutrients are located -- not in the pulp of the fruit that tastes so good because it is loaded with fruit sugars.

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