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Juicing and superfoods: What happens to the antioxidant when fruit is processed?

Baking blueberries changes their polyphenol content -- and possibly their health benefits, says a recent study, "Impact of Cooking, Proving, and Baking on the (Poly)phenol Content of Wild Blueberry," published online October 2, 2013 in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry. But consumers don't always enjoy blueberries raw. Some methods of processing, such as juicing and canning, lower polyphenol levels by 22 to 81 percent.

Blueberries: Juicing and superfoods.
Photo by Mark Hirsch/Getty Images

Blueberries are called a 'superfood' for their high polyphenol content, explained an October 30, 2013 news release, "Baking blueberries changes their polyphenol content -- and possibly their health benefits." But when served as warm, gooey pie filling or when lending bursts of sweet flavor to a muffin, their 'super' health benefits change. Scientists studied how cooking and baking affect the increasingly popular fruit's polyphenols and reported their mixed findings.

Levels of some of these substances rose while others fell, according to the recent study published in American Chemical Society's (ACS') Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry. However, no studies have tested whether using blueberries in breads, muffins or pies affects their polyphenol content. Rodriguez-Mateos' team sought to test the stability of these health-promoting compounds during cooking, proofing (when the dough rises before cooking) and baking.

Ana Rodriguez-Mateos and colleagues note that eating blueberries is associated with several health perks including improved thinking, reduced risk for heart disease and reduced inflammation. Research suggests that a set of natural plant compounds called polyphenols lend the fresh fruit these benefits. Authors of this study are Ana Rodriguez-Mateos, Tania Cifuentes-Gomez, Trevor W. George, and Jeremy P. E. Spencer, Molecular Nutrition Group, School of Chemistry, Food and Pharmacy, University of Reading, Reading RG2 6AP, United Kingdom.

Diets rich in polyphenols

The study, according to its abstract, examined accumulating evidence that suggests diets rich in polyphenols may have positive effects on human health. Currently there is limited information regarding the effects of processing on the polyphenolic content of berries, in particular in processes related to the baking industry.

Researchers investigated the impact of cooking, proving, and baking on the anthocyanin, procyanidin, flavonol, and phenolic acid contents of wild blueberry using HPLC with UV and fluorescence detection. Anthocyanin levels decreased during cooking, proving, and baking, whereas no significant changes were observed for total procyanidins. However, what the researchers found in the study revealed that lower molecular weight procyanidins increased and high molecular weight oligomers decreased during the process.

Quercetin and ferulic and caffeic acid levels remained constant, whereas increases were found for chlorogenic acid. Due to their possible health benefits, a better understanding of the impact of processing is important to maximize the retention of these phytochemicals in berry-containing products, the study's abstract explained. You also may wish to see the abstract of another study on how bread making changes what's in the bread, "Formation of Dityrosine Cross-Links during Breadmaking."

Researchers found that all three processes had mixed effects on blueberries' polyphenols including anthocyanin, procyanidin, quercetin and phenolic acids

Anthocyanin levels dropped by 10 to 21 percent. The levels of smaller procyanidin oligomers got a boost while those of the larger ones dipped. Phenolic acid levels increased.

Other compounds such as quercetin remained constant. Researchers say that the good retention of polyphenols observed in their study might be due to the use of yeast, which may act as a stabilizing agent during baking, according to the news release.

"Due to their possible health benefits, a better understanding of the impact of processing is important to maximize the retention of these phytochemicals in berry-containing-products," the researchers state. The authors cite funding from the Alpro Foundation.

Antioxidants and bottled juices

When you read about all the antioxidant properties of bottled fruit juice, did you ever think whether the bottled juice is different from the fruit that comes right off the tree? If the end product has been through factory heating processes, which are necessary to kill any bacteria in the pasteurization process, what's the result?

If the product is flash pasteurized, does this save the antioxidants? Where can you go to find out the answers?

What about the extraction chemicals?

What chemicals were used to extract the juice from the whole, fresh fruit? And what other processing change the antioxidant properties of the fruit juice? If you're reading medical or scientific studies on the juice, were the studies done on the juice that comes out of the bottle in the shape that the consumer sees? Or were the studies done on the fruit when it first had been picked from the farm or orchard?

What's the source of the fruit juice? Is the source something you're allergic to or find worsens your arthritis such as the nightshade family of vegetables or fruits?

Fruits or vegetables in the nightshade family and arthritis

For example, if you drink Goji juice, sure it's healthy. But what if your arthritis is worsened by fruits that are in the nightshade family? Goji's Latin name is Lycium Barbarum, from the Solonaceae family. If nightshade vegetables such as tomato or potato worsen arthritis for you, how can you find out whether Goji juice comes from the same nightshade family?

Drinking 100 percent fruit juice is associated with improved diet quality in children. New research shows children and teens who drink 100 percent juice have higher intakes of key nutrients compared to non-consumers. Consumption of 100 percent fruit juice is closely linked to improved nutrient intake and overall diet quality in children and teens, according to new research presented on April 25, 2010 at the Experimental Biology (EB) meeting.

There are benefits to eating the whole fruit

The benefits of drinking 100 percent fruit juice also has been researched. Parents are divided on whether children will prefer to eat more whole fresh fruit or drink the juice. And if the juice is given, it's full of watery sugar, even if it's natural sugars from the fruit. Without the pulp, a lot is missing from the fruit, but there are still some kids so familiarized with fruit juice instead of whole fruit that they imitate what they see parents and other family members eating and drinking, whether it's fruit juice or the whole fruit.

Two studies from researchers at the Louisiana State University Agricultural Center and Baylor College of Medicine clearly highlight the benefits of drinking 100 percent fruit juice. Researchers used data from the 2003-2006 National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) to compare the diets of juice drinkers to non-consumers.

According to the findings, children 2-5 years of age who consumed fruit juice had significantly higher intakes of vitamin C, potassium, and magnesium and significantly lower intakes of added sugars compared to non-fruit juice consumers. In addition, higher intake of fruit juice was directly correlated with increased consumption of whole fruits and whole grains.

Dietary fiber in the juice if there's pulp in the fruit juice - otherwise, it's watery sugar

Fruit juice allowed to stay around baby's teeth soon may rot the two front teeth, especially if sipped from bottles or sippy cups. On the other hand, children 6-12 years of age showed a similar positive association between intake of 100 percent juice and higher intakes of the key nutrients, as well as dietary fiber. Overall diet quality, as assessed by the Healthy Eating Index (a measure that evaluates conformance to federal dietary guidance) was higher in all fruit juice consumers assessed.

Vitamin A and folate in orange juice that's real juice with the pulp not just the water

The researchers reported that a significantly higher percentage of non-fruit juice consumers 2-18 years of age failed to meet the recommended levels for several key nutrients, including vitamins A and C and folate, compared to those who drank 100 percent juice. Comparatively, a greater percentage of those in the fruit juice group exceeded Adequate Intake levels for calcium versus non-consumers.

"One hundred percent fruit juice plays an important role in the diets of children and teens, supplying important nutrients during a key period of growth and development," notes lead researcher Dr. Carol O'Neil, according to the April 26, 2012 news release, Drinking 100 percent fruit juice is associated with improved diet quality in children. "Drinking 100 percent juice should be encouraged as part of an overall balanced diet."

The analyses also revealed that mean consumption of fruit juice was well within the American Academy of Pediatrics' recommended intake levels of 4 to 6 ounces per day for children age 1 to 6 years and 8 to 12 ounces per day for children age 7 to 18 years. For more information on the nutritional benefits of 100 percent fruit juice, please visit the Fruit Juice Facts site.

Wolfberries - goji berries

According to Wikipedia, "Wolfberry - commercially called goji berry - is the common name for the fruit of two very closely related species: Lycium barbarum (Chinese: pinyin: Níngxià guq) and L. chinense (Chinese: pinyin: guq), two species of boxthorn in the family Solanaceae (which also includes the potato, tomato, eggplant, deadly nightshade, chili pepper, and tobacco). It is native to southeastern Europe and Asia.[1]" Also see Google Books.

Juices for arthritis: According to the article, "Natural Remedies for Arthritis,"cherry juice is good for arthritis.

• Black cherry juice is good for arthritis. Take two glasses of this juice twice a day (each glass contains four ounces of juice diluted with four ounces of water). You can discontinue this treatment once the pain clears up.
• People with rheumatoid arthritis should include in their daily diets juices high in the anti-inflammatory nutrients. These nutrients include beta-carotene (found in parsley, broccoli and spinach) and copper (found in carrots, apples and ginger).
• Rheumatoid arthritis improves with a glass or two a day of pineapple juice. Pineapple is a rich source of the enzyme bromelain, which has strong anti-inflammatory properties.

Other Useful Juices:

• Carrot, celery, and cabbage juice. Add a little parsley.
• Potato juice (If you are not allergic to this.)
• Cherry juice.
• Take juice of half a lemon before every meal and before going to bed.
• Carrot, beet, and cucumber.
• During acute stage, one pint to one quart celery juice daily.
• Radish, garlic

Caution: Certain juices may cause adverse reactions in people with osteoarthritis. Avoid citrus fruits, and be careful with vegetables from the nightshade family, including potatoes, tomatoes, peppers and eggplant. Citrus seems to promote swelling, and nightshades contain psyllium alkaloids, which cause problems for some people. See Lycium Barbarum.

Smokers tend to eat more high-fat foods and obese people also tend to eat more high-fat foods

To some people fat tastes delicious and creamy. And to others fat tastes greasy and nauseating. But to those where fat tastes creamy and soothing, more high-fat foods may be eaten. Now, in a new study, researchers found smokers, like obese people tend to eat more high-fat foods.

Don't let your teenager start smoking. Letting youth know obese people and smokers both tend to eat high-fat foods might help to encourage curiosity about why kids shouldn't eat so many high-fat or high-sugar-or other sweet, syrupy foods or start to smoke. People who smoke also tend to eat more high-fat foods, and obese people eat more high-fat foods, says a new study, "Cigarette smoking and obesity are associated with decreased fat perception in women," published in the April 2014 issue of the journal Obesity. You can check out the PDF article of this study online.

Now researchers, including M. Yanina Pepino, Ph.D., at the Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis, have found that obese women who also smoke have a difficult time perceiving fat and sweetness in their food. And that could lead them to eat even more fatty foods. The study's authors are Pepino MY and Mennella JA. You also may wish to see the study under another title, "Obese Smokers Show Impaired Perception of Fat and Sweetness."

Cigarette smoking among obese women appears to interfere with their ability to taste fats and sweets, the new study shows. Despite craving high-fat, sugary foods, these women were less likely than others to perceive these tastes, which may drive them to consume more calories.

M. Yanina Pepino, PhD, assistant professor of medicine at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis, and Julie Mennella, PhD, a biopsychologist at the Monell Center in Philadelphia, where the research was conducted, studied four groups of women ages 21 to 41: obese smokers, obese nonsmokers, smokers of normal weight and nonsmokers of normal weight. The women tasted several vanilla puddings containing varying amounts of fat and were asked to rate them for sweetness and creaminess, a measure of fat content.

“Compared with the other three groups, smokers who were obese perceived less creaminess and sweetness,” Pepino said, according to the April 3, 2014 news release by Jim Dryden, Smoking may dull obese women's ability to taste fat and sugar. “They also derived less pleasure from tasting the puddings.”

Pepino cautioned that the study only identified associations between smoking and taste rather than definitive reasons why obese smokers were less likely to detect fat and sweetness. But the findings imply that the ability to perceive fat and sweetness — and to derive pleasure from food — is compromised in female smokers who are obese, which could contribute to the consumption of more calories.

Who craves high fat foods the most--smokers or people already obese?

“Obese people often crave high-fat foods,” she said, according to the news release. “Our findings suggest that having this intense craving but not perceiving fat and sweetness in food may lead these women to eat more. Since smoking and obesity are risk factors for cardiovascular and metabolic diseases, the additional burden of craving more fats and sugars, while not fully tasting them, could be detrimental to health.”

Interestingly, it was the combination of smoking and obesity that created something of a “double-whammy” because smokers who were not overweight could perceive fat and sweetness that was similar to women who did not smoke. Previous studies have linked smoking to increased food cravings and greater consumption of fat, regardless of whether a smoker is obese.

Studies also have found that smokers tend to have increased waist-to-hip ratios

More smokers appear to be apple-shaped instead of pear-shaped. That is, they tend to be shaped more like apples than pears, another risk factor for heart disease and metabolic problems.

The findings contribute to a growing body of knowledge that challenges the lingering perception that smoking helps a person maintain a healthy weight. “Women are much more likely than men to take up smoking as an aid to weight control,” Pepino said in the news release. “But there is no good evidence showing that it helps maintain a healthy weight over the long term. And in the case of obese women who smoke, it appears the smoking may make things even worse than previously thought.” Funding came from a grant from the Pennsylvania Department of Health to the Monell Center.

Washington University School of Medicine’s 2,100 employed and volunteer faculty physicians also are the medical staff of Barnes-Jewish and St. Louis Children’s hospitals. The School of Medicine is one of the leading medical research, teaching and patient-care institutions in the nation, currently ranked sixth in the nation by U.S. News & World Report. Through its affiliations with Barnes-Jewish and St. Louis Children’s hospitals, the School of Medicine is linked to BJC HealthCare. You also may wish to check out another study, "Examining behavioral processes through which lifestyle interventions promote weight loss: Results from PREMIER (pages 1002–1007)."

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