As you're enjoying your turkey dinner this holiday weekend, you might want to scoop on an extra serving of cranberry sauce. That's because according to a new study of 20 common fruits, cranberries have the highest level of phenols, a type of disease-fighting antioxidant. The findings appear in the current issue of the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry.
Previous studies had demonstrated the link between eating fuits and vegetables and a reduced risk of coronary artery disease. But Joe Vinson of the University of Scranton and colleagues bought supermarket samples of fresh fruits common in the American diet and tested them specifically for phenol content. Many phenols and polyphenols are stronger antioxidants than those found in vitamins, the authors note, and thus may be better able to protect the heart from the negative effects of low and very low density lipoproteins. A serving of cranberries in their pure form, the researchers found, has the highest quantity of phenols. Pears, red grapes and apples round out the top four.
According to Vinson, a serving of uncooked berries or pure juice is the best way to reap the health benefits of the fruit because processing, storage and heating reduces the levels of antioxidants. The antioxidant levels in the cranberry sauce likely to be served this weekend fall behind those of fresh and dried berries, he says, but ahead of cranberry cocktails. So help yourself to another serving after all, it's good for you.