Q: What are antioxidants?
A: Antioxidants play an important role in overall health. They are natural compounds found in some foods that help neutralize free radicals in our bodies. Free radicals are substances that occur naturally in our bodies but attack the fats, protein and the DNA in our cells, which can cause different types of diseases and accelerate the aging process.
Q: What foods are the best sources for antioxidants?
A: The best antioxidant sources are fruits and vegetables, as well as products derived from plants. Some good choices include blueberries, raspberries, apples, broccoli, cabbage, spinach, eggplant, and legumes like red kidney beans or black beans. They’re also found in green tea, black tea, red wine and dark chocolate. Usually, the presence of color indicates there is a specific antioxidant in that food.
The keyword here is variety. Try to get as many fruits and vegetables with different colors when you plan your meals and go to the grocery store. An array of color in your diet will give you the widest range of beneficial antioxidants.
Q: Does it matter whether the produce is cooked or consumed raw?
A: Depending on the particular food, cooking temperatures and methods can sometimes increase or decrease antioxidant levels. The important thing is that you eat antioxidant-rich foods, so go with your personal preference for preparation—as long as it's not deep frying!
Q: Are added antioxidants as effective as those that occur naturally?
A: Yes, vitamins such as C, A and E can be added to foods – and they often are, such as in orange juice. One of the things those additives do is act as antioxidants in the body. There is no significant physiological difference between the added antioxidants and the ones occurring naturally in the food source. However, there’s also no evidence that taking antioxidant dietary supplements work as well as the antioxidants found in food products. It’s important not to overdo it on supplements because there can be too much of a good thing. With food products, it would be extremely difficult to consume an excessive amount of antioxidants.
Q: Is there a specific amount of antioxidants consumers should aim for each day?
A: There is not a set recommended daily allowance (RDA) for antioxidants, but the new MyPlate tool based on the Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommends that you make half your plate fruits and vegetables. If you aim to do that at most meals, you can be sure to get the antioxidants you need.
In this Food Facts video, Paul Counce, a professor at the University of Arkansas’s Rice Research and Extension Center, explains the process behind how brown rice becomes white rice.
Christine Bruhn, PhD, director of the Center for Consumer Research at University of California-Davis, and a professor in the UC-Davis Department of Food Science and Safety, explains why foods are irradiated.
This column addresses the functions that layered food packaging provides: protection of its contents, improvement of brand operations, decrease of distribution damage, enabling of retail presentation, alignment with consumer use, and minimization of package materials, as well as how package layers are formed, and new developments.
The column addresses considerations in working with copackers: benefits, needs for, management of collaboration, etc.
This column provides an update on food allergens and the impact that processing has on them.
New titles from IFT Press
A review of project management and communication resources to enable remote food processing.
The dangers of a high-sodium diet have been well documented, but a new technology devised by scientists from Washington State University could help reduce sodium in processed foods while retaining taste and texture.
With the rapid spread of COVID-19, the global food system has been pulled into new and uncertain territory. New recommendations for personal and public safety, the global nature of the pandemic, and resulting shifts in consumer behavior have all contributed to this uncertainty. This episode of Food Disruptors is one of several that will explore the immediate and lasting effects that COVID-19 may have on the food industry. Today, we’re going to speak with experts in food manufacturing and food safety. Listeners will learn what COVID-19 means for food production and how the food industry can ensure food safety in this unique environment.
With the ability to survive for long periods at both high and low temperatures, Listeria monocytogenes is a potentially deadly foodborne pathogen. So, it’s easy to see the value of a computer model developed by Cornell University scientists, which allows food safety professionals to predict where in a production facility the pathogen is most likely to be found.