AntioxidantsAntioxidants have been popular in the world of weight loss lately and we have guests at our weight loss camps ask us if antioxidants are as beneficial as everyone is making them out to be. The answer is, it depends. Here are six myths and truths about antioxidants provided by ConsumerReports OnHealth to explain what we mean.

Myth: Antioxidants are all vitamins
Truth: There are thousands of antioxidants and only a limited number of them are vitamins. Antioxidants have the ability to block free radicals. Free radicals are unstable chemical fragments that cause damage throughout your body and can cause abnormal cell growth and reproduction.

Myth: All antioxidants are created equal
Truth: According to Jeffrey Blumberg, Ph.D. and director of the Antioxidant Research Lab at Tufts University says, “Different antioxidants fight different free radicals.” But what’s nice is that all antioxidants work together like a well oiled machine. For instance, vitamin C recycles vitamin E, meaning that when vitamin E blocks a free radical, vitamin C takes the remaining vitamin E and changes it back to its original antioxidant form.

Myth: Be sure to eat pomegranates, berries and other super fruits
Truth: There is no official definition of a ‘super fruit.’ It can mean whatever someone wants it to mean, therefore it does not hold any significance. All fruits and vegetables have a unique blend of healthy components and some of those include antioxidants. By only focusing on ‘super fruits,’ you are missing out on a variety of other beneficial fruits and vegetables.

Myth: You should amp up your intake with supplements
Truth: Don’t focus on supplements when you can get the nutrients you need from food. Clinical trials have shown that consuming nutrients in supplement form does not produce the same results that found when consuming them in foods. Why waste your money on a single supplement that may work when you can buy foods that can provide multiple nutritional benefits?

Myth: If some antioxidants are good, more is better
Truth: We’ve all heard the saying that “there is no such thing as too much of a good thing,” that saying does not apply to nutrients in supplement form. There has been some evidence to indicate that when taken in megadoses (which many supplements come in) it can cause antioxidants to become pre-oxidents which may actually increase the production of free radicals. The opposite result of what antioxidants are intended to perform.

Myth: Packaged food with labels that promise antioxidant benefits will boost your health
Truth: Just because a package advertises antioxidants, does not mean that they carry a health benefit as well. Since antioxidants are desired by consumers, manufacturers will add vitamin C or E and then advertise that their food contains antioxidants. They do this in hopes to drive up the sales and price of their product but in turn do not yield the benefits that consumers expect. Some products may already contain the antioxidant and the manufacturer is not even adding anything to the product.

We are still discovering more about how antioxidants work within our body so the best advice we can give you to promote a healthy diet and help you achieve your weight loss goals is to make sure that you eat a variety of fruits, veggies, whole grains and legumes every day. Sometimes staying true to eating a balanced diet of whole, natural foods is still the best way to go.