Getting a Handle on Antioxidants (A color guide for selecting foods by specific antioxidant groups)

Meet the “New-trients”

As we speak’s shoppers are witnessing a brand new period in how meals are recognized. New vitamins, not generally understood for his or her well being advantages, appear to be popping up on our grocer’s cabinets daily. Omega fatty acids, newly outlined sources of dietary fiber, and antioxidant phytochemicals are examples of healthful plant components which might be creeping into public media reviews and water-cooler debates.

Laboratory and preliminary human medical research are revealing anti-disease properties of those “vitamins.” In depth meals and medical analysis underway presently will finally translate the chemical properties into client understanding and terminology that we’ll grasp and use in on a regular basis dialog.

With such potential significance to public well being, the patron training course of ought to start now in a method that folks, from youngsters to grandparents, can readily perceive antioxidants as simply as we now perceive energy, carbohydrates, fats proportion, and vitamin C.

The scientific and regulatory our bodies for meals labeling have an excellent problem forward of them.
There are millions of plant meals sources with suspected well being advantages with sophisticated chemical names which might be unfamiliar and might be intimidating. The problem at hand is to decipher this blizzard of names and to advertise higher diet for our households and for ourselves.

Why Antioxidants?

The useful antioxidant chemical substances that we get from colourful plant meals signify our greatest protection in opposition to threatening oxidants. Whereas oxidative stress is a traditional a part of mobile metabolism that happens even in wholesome folks, left unchecked, it might result in harm that accumulates with age.

Usually, oxidative species or “free radicals” are neutralized by antioxidant enzymes and food-derived antioxidants. Nevertheless, the next circumstances may cause an imbalanced oxidant-antioxidant relationship that enables oxidative stress to go unopposed.

o Contamination by environmental situations like air pollution, radiation, cigarette smoke and herbicides

o Regular getting older

o Poor diets that lack important vitamins and phytochemicals

The results of this imbalance is cell and tissue harm that might result in ailments like:

o Most cancers

o Hypertension

o Diabetes

o Persistent irritation

o Neuronal degeneration like Alzheimer’s illness

The Shade Code for Antioxidants

Over the previous 5 years, we’ve begun a priceless course of for recognizing plant meals antioxidant qualities by groupings of color–The Shade Code, as written in two books entitled The Shade Code and What Shade is Your Weight-reduction plan? (publication data beneath).

The next is a abstract of these shade guides for antioxidants, and an instance of how we are able to start to categorise and categorize the totally different antioxidants into the meals shade code.

Abstract of the Shade Code

This can be a normal scheme of instance meals that may match into every shade class. Remember the fact that there are not any agency traces between the lessons, which permits for overlap.

1. Purple – tomato, pink grapefruit, watermelon

2. Blue/Purple/Purple/Black (BRPB) – blueberry, cherry, prune, blackberry

3. Orange/Yellow – carrot, pumpkin, orange, papaya

4. Inexperienced – broccoli, kale, spinach, pea

5. White – garlic, onion, cabbage, turnip

6. Brown/Grey – spices, nuts, seeds, endogenous sources

How you can Apply the Shade Code

This is a normal breakdown of the colour teams which have meals chemical substances with antioxidant qualities:

1. Enzymes (Brown/Grey)

A protein substance with a reputation ending in “ase”, enzymes stimulate biochemical reactions in dwelling cells and assist type new compounds that, on this case, would serve antioxidant capabilities.
Members of this enzyme class of antioxidants embody:

o Superoxide dismutase

o Catalases

o Reductases

o Peroxidases

o Transferases

2. Nutritional vitamins (Brown/Grey)

Most shoppers would already acknowledge the three most important antioxidant vitamins–A, C and E–that are derived from meals and dietary supplements frequent to the general public. Nutritional vitamins A and E are fat-soluble, offering antioxidant safety in cell constructions just like the outer membrane and interior nuclear organelles. Vitamin C dissolves readily in physique water compartments, so it’s properly distributed within the physique. Of specific notice is the essential position of vitamin C in defending nutritional vitamins A and E from damaging oxidative free radicals.

3. Phenolics (BRPB)

With greater than 8,000 particular person chemical substances that serve crops as pigments, the phenolics (additionally known as phenols or polyphenols) are water-soluble acids that not solely give crops hex color code, but additionally differentiate scents, tastes, and bitterness. The big class of phenolics (known as flavonoids) is usually talked about in present public media. Quercetin, kaempferol and peonidin are examples of flavonoids which were within the information lately.

4. Carotenoids (Orange/Yellow, Purple)

A fat-soluble group of greater than 600 particular person chemical substances, the carotenoids (e.g., beta-carotene, lycopene, lutein and zeaxanthin “zee-a-zan-thin”) are particularly highly effective antioxidants. On account of their chemical construction, they’re a wonderful supply of electrons which might be aggressively sought by oxidative free radicals. A carotenoid molecule donates electrons to a free radical, sacrificing itself in antioxidant protection. Terpenes and xanthophylls are included on this class.

5. Hormones (Brown/Grey)

A rising subject of medical analysis is figuring out regular hormones usually described with cell-to-cell messaging roles within the physique as having antioxidant capabilities. Presently only some hormones have this recognized property equivalent to melatonin, estradiol and insulin, however future analysis will seemingly unravel comparable capabilities for the handfuls of hormones recognized in human physiology.

6. Minerals (All colours)

Minerals have components that allow enzyme exercise. Selenium, zinc, manganese, magnesium and copper are minerals concerned in lots of of antioxidant roles within the physique.

7. Glutathione (Brown/Grey)

Most likely the human physique’s single most essential native antioxidant, glutathione is a water-soluble molecule synthesized from food-derived amino acids. It additionally relies on lipoic acid (beneath) for synthesis.

8. Lipid effectors (Orange/Yellow)

Lipoic acid is probably the “excellent” antioxidant as a result of it’s a small highly effective molecule that dissolves readily each in fatty layers of cells and in water – the one antioxidant to do that. Different lipid oriented antioxidants embody omega fatty acids, tocopherols (like vitamin E), phytosterols, perillyl alcohol and important oils equivalent to limonene.

9. Saponins, steroids and stilbenes (Inexperienced, BRPB)

Associated on this dialogue solely by their frequent first letter “s”, this group has established antioxidant capabilities and contains some well-known chemical substances equivalent to resveratrol (a stilbene of pink wine and darkish grapes), brassinosteroid (the expansion regulator of crops) and saponin (the waxy protecting on plant leaves).

10. Sulfur-containing chemical substances (Inexperienced, White)

Together with organosulfides, tri and diallyl sulfides and sulforaphane, this group from crops like broccoli and cabbage has been proven to have properties affecting antioxidant enzyme exercise, inflammatory mediators and tumor progress.

Proposing an Antioxidant Nomenclature

Simply as nutritional vitamins have been given a nominal id (Vitamin A, B, C…and many others) so too ought to we consult with antioxidants. This can be a new system not but formally proposed to any regulatory authority or scientific physique. Classification of antioxidants should bear the scrutiny, revision and adoption by scientists, business and authorities to be acceptable for meals label use within the public.

Right here is the proposed breakdown:

1. Antioxidant C – carotenoids

2. Antioxidant E – enzymes

3. Antioxidant G – glutathione

4. Antioxidant H – hormones

5. Antioxidant L – lipid-associated chemical substances

6. Antioxidant M – minerals

7. Antioxidant P – phenolics

8. Antioxidant S – saponins, steroids, stilbenes, sulfurs

9. Antioxidant V – nutritional vitamins

Over time, the general public should really feel these proposed antioxidant lessons are informative and sensible for understanding antioxidants and selecting most well-liked meals. Time will inform, however this listing provides us a easy working construction to get a deal with on naming antioxidants.


* Heber D. What Shade Is Your Weight-reduction plan? HarperCollins, New York, 2001.

* Joseph JA, Nadeau DA, Underwood A. The Shade Code, Hyperion, New York, 2002.

* Lee J, Koo N, Min DB. Reactive oxygen species, getting older, and antioxidative nutraceuticals. Compreh. Rev. Meals Sci. Meals Security 3:21-33, 2004.

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