Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Serious about veggies: study shows best phytonutrients

This week's Experimental Biology 2010 meeting in Anaheim has a lot of health information pouring from studies. Some are from industry and some from academia, so be sure to sort through the intent for presenting the findings. The blueberry folks will want you to know about how healthy blueberries are - and I am sure this is true - just make sure you look closely. I think the following info is interesting and helps the consumer understand more specifically what is in certain foods.

The study from Nutrilite says Americans could improve their phytonutrient intake by choosing to eat more concentrated sources of phytonutrients as well as a wider variety of them. Nutrilite points to source of its study: dataset comes from National Health and Nutrition Examination Surveys, surveys that capture what Americans eat daily, supplemental nutrient concentration data from the United States Department of Agriculture and the published literature.

Some results: for 10 of the 14 phytonutrients included in the analysis, a single food type accounted for approximately two-thirds or more of an individual's intake of the specific phytonutrient, regardless of whether that person was a high or low fruit and vegetable consumer. Based on the current study, the top food sources consumed by Americans for some selected phytonutrients were as follows:

Beta-carotene – carrots
Beta-cryptoxanthin – oranges/orange juice
Lutein/zeaxanthin – spinach
Ellagic acid – strawberries
Isothiocyanates – mustard
For each of these phytonutrients, however, there is a more highly concentrated food that could be chosen instead:
Beta-carotene – sweet potatoes
Sweet potatoes have nearly double the beta-carotene compared to carrots in a single serving.
Beta-cryptoxanthin – papaya
A serving of fresh papaya has roughly 15 times the beta-cryptoxanthin of an orange.
Lutein/zeaxanthin – kale
By substituting cooked kale for raw spinach, it is possible to triple lutein/zeaxanthin intake.
Ellagic acid – raspberries
Serving per serving, raspberries have roughly three times the ellagic acid compared to strawberries.
Isothiocyanates – watercress
Just one cup of watercress as the basis for a salad has about the same level of isothiocyanates as four teaspoons of mustard.

Find more studies like this for EB 2010 at Eurekalert.