Smaller Quantities May Pack a Bigger Punch by Sheah Rarback
Don't kill the phytonutrients! These naturally occurring plant
compounds such as catechins in green tea and phenols in olive oil
-- which are potent antioxidants that help fight the free radicals
that can damage our DNA -- are dying off in kitchens across South
With the best intentions, giant bottles of olive oil and large
tins of green tea are being purchased and left out on the counter
to encourage usage. A great idea in theory, since we eat what we
see. But in this situation, bargain shopping does not pay off.
Two research articles in the March 2009 issue of Journal of Food
Science examined the impact of storage on specific antioxidants
compounds in olive oil and green tea.
The olive oil study first demonstrated that, depending on the
type of olive and region, olive oils start with different amounts
of health promoting phenolic/antioxidant compounds. Antioxidant
activity remained the same for the first three months of storage,
but by six months had lost a significant percent of power. My
suggestion: buy small, tinted bottles of cold-pressed extra virgin
Tea doesn't spoil, so why not buy a big tin on sale? The
researchers stored tea bags in the dark at room temperature for
periods ranging from one week to six months. In storage, the
average content of EGCG -- the most abundant catechin in tea --
decreased by 28 percent over six months. EGCG is reported to have
the highest activity against bacterial toxins, viruses and human
ECG, the second most abundant catechin, decreased by 51 percent
over six months.
Enjoying a relaxing cup or two of green tea each day will
quickly get you through your tea tin and the last cup will be as
potent as the first. But buying bigger quantities is not always
better when it comes to disease fighters in food.
(Sheah Rarback is a registered dietitian and on the faculty of
the University of Miami Leonard M. Miller School of Medicine.)
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