Soft Drinks with Antioxidants Added? Why?

Currently soft drink companies are touting their products’ antioxidant qualities. But why add antioxidants?

Antioxidants are believed to help protect us against both cancer and heart disease. Studies have shown that there is a significant positive association between a higher intake of fruits and vegetables high in antioxidants, and reduced risk of chronic disease.

While dark chocolate, blueberries, and red wine get ample public attention, some independent food study shows that other foods, as well as coffee, could pack an even healthier punch. Maybe that is why the soft drink companies are adding antioxidants to their soda line, for they are just jumping on the antioxidant band wagon.

First off, antioxidants are a group of organic compounds that include vitamins A, C and E, for many natural foods derive their colors from the presence of these substances. Antioxidants are helpful because they neutralize oxidizing free-radical molecules that are normally absorbed through foods but could be carcinogenic over time.

Maybe the soft drink companies believe fortifying products with ingredients containing high levels of antioxidants helps give customers the tools necessary to maintain a healthful antioxidant status, which in turn could mitigate the risk of developing chronic diseases.

There are some negative effects of added antioxidants that consumers should remember. First, the “free radicals” that antioxidants act against perform a dual biological function. Free radicals are produced continuously in all cells as part of their normal functioning. In moderate concentrations, they are essential mediators of reactions by which our bodies eliminate unwanted cells. By eliminating free radicals from our body, we interfere with important defensive mechanisms for eliminating damaged cells, including cancerous cells. So antioxidant substances can also harm people. Whereas our diets typically contain safe levels, highly concentrated antioxidant supplements can be hazardous.

As us consumers are increasingly becoming more interested in drinks that offer health benefits above and beyond that for which they were initially intended? Keep in mind, just as long as these products provide added fortification in a natural way. Consider a variety of common foods, such as fruits, vegetables, whole grains, legumes and herbs, are naturally rich, not only in vitamins and minerals, or plant-derived chemicals that have inherent antioxidant protective properties that help fight against disease before you reach for that antioxidant enriched soda or soft drink.

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