Antioxidants Fall From Grace

The popular dietary components may not do any good, and may actually harm.

To anyone who feels guilty for not gorging on antioxidants—actually, make that “antioxidants!,” which seems to be how grocery manufacturers think of them—redemption is nigh. For years the media, food labels, dietitians, and even scientists who should know better have bombarded us with advice to load up on antioxidants: compounds found (mostly) in fruits and vegetables that mop up free radicals, which are highly reactive clusters of atoms that have been fingered as the evildoers responsible for aging and for illnesses from cancer to heart disease.

Not so fast. First, studies piled up showing that taking antioxidants—even such common and seemingly innocuous ones as beta carotene and vitamins C and E—as supplements was not beneficial to health and might even be dangerous, though the reason for the danger wasn’t clear. (One always pays attention when a study concludes with a phrase like “seems to increase overall mortality.”) Now the research is challenging an even more fundamental tenet of the antioxidant craze.

Read the rest of this article on the Newsweek website.

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