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ARS Home » Northeast Area » Beltsville, Maryland (BHNRC) » Beltsville Human Nutrition Research Center » Nutrient Data Laboratory » Research » Publications at this Location » Publication #223537

Title: Antioxidant content of foods

item Haytowitz, David
item Gebhardt, Susan
item Bhagwat, Seema

Submitted to: Meeting Abstract
Publication Type: Abstract Only
Publication Acceptance Date: 2/11/2008
Publication Date: 2/28/2008
Citation: Haytowitz, D.B., Gebhardt, S.E. 2008. Antioxidant content of foods. IDFA Ice Cream Technology Conference, February 28, 2008, Phoenix, AZ.

Interpretive Summary:

Technical Abstract: Plant-based foods, especially fruits, vegetables, and nuts, contain bioactive components which have various biological functions, including free radical scavenging and metal chelating (antioxidant), inhibition of lipid peroxidation, anti-inflammatory properties, etc. Oxidative stress may contribute to the development of chronic and degenerative diseases such as cancer and cardiovascular disease. Therefore components that function as antioxidants may lower the risk of these diseases. These dietary components include vitamins and minerals such as vitamin C (ascorbic acid), vitamin E and its isomers (tocopherols and tocotrienols), and the minerals iron and selenium. In addition, fruits, vegetables, nuts, and tea contain other dietary components such as flavonoids, proanthocyanidins, and carotenoids, which may be bioactive. Data for nutrients in foods are included in the USDA National Nutrient Database for Standard Reference (SR). Also USDA has published a number of Special Interest Databases on the several classes of other dietary components which may function, in part, as antioxidants: carotenoids (now merged with SR); isoflavones, flavonoids, and proanthocyanidins. Over the years, a number of assays have been developed to measure total antioxidant activity in foods. These include oxygen radical absorbance capacity (ORAC), ferric ion reducing antioxidant power (FRAP), trolox equivalence antioxidant capacity (TEAC), and more recently cellular antioxidant activity (CAA). These assays are based on different underlying mechanisms using different radical or oxidant sources and therefore generate different values and cannot be compared directly. However, the ORAC assay is considered by some to be a preferable method because of its biological relevance to in vivo antioxidant efficacy. This presentation will discuss the various antioxidants found in foods as well as ORAC values obtained for selected foods. USDA's databases for selected dietary components can be used to assess the effects of these foods on health status of specific populations. Foods with higher levels of the various antioxidants include fruits, particularly berries, nuts, and selected dark chocolate products. The use of these foods in ice cream and frozen dessert formulations has the potential to increase total antioxidant intake, depending on the quantity and form used.