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Dairy Intake Blocks Antioxidant Absorption

Dairy Intake Blocks Antioxidant Absorption

Milk + Berries = No Antioxidants - What's more enjoyable than a big bowl of fresh, juicy berries with a little milk poured on it? Simple. Classic. Healthy... Or is it? While berries are brimming with antioxidants, researchers have discovered that you cannot absorb these little powerhouses of health if you eat your blueberries or blackberries with milk.

The Antioxidant Story

The antioxidants in berries and other plant foods belong to a group of nutrients known as phytonutrients. "Phyto" is the Greek word for "plant," and the nutrients in the plant are natural chemical compounds that help protect the plant against germs, UV damage, insects, and other threats. The great thing is that when you eat plant foods, you will also benefit from these protective chemical compounds. Some of the phytonutrients are considered antioxidants because they help defend our cardiovascular system against oxidative stress caused by free radicals.

What the Research Says

Scientists are finding that if you eat your antioxidants with dairy, you can say good-bye to all the disease-prohibiting and health-promoting properties offered by these natural chemical compounds. Lately the media has touted the antioxidant properties of dark chocolate and tea. But what if these well-reported, antioxidant-rich plant foods are combined with milk? A study that looked at the effect of mixing milk with chocolate showed that milk successfully interfered with absorption of chocolate's naturally occurring antioxidants, and that was true whether one drank chocolate milk or ate a piece of milk chocolate candy. In either case, the antioxidants in chocolate were not available to the human body. Another study done on milk and tea had similar results. It was shown that casein, one of the proteins in milk, inhibited "the favorable health effects of tea on vascular function."

Back to Berries

If you are one of those who have already eschewed the use of chocolate and tea because you know there are better ways to get antioxidants without the risks posed by these addictive foods, you'll want to know that researchers have confirmed the negative effect of milk on antioxidants in both blackberries and blueberries. These berries contain the antioxidant ellagic acid which may play a role in preventing age-related cognitive decline. When the berries were combined with milk, none of the ellagic acid was absorbed into the bloodstream.

Dairy-Free is Antioxidant Friendly

Each of the plant foods researched so far have different antioxidants:

  • Blueberries - Caffeic acid
  • Blackberries - Ellagic acid
  • Tea - Catechins
  • Chocolate - Flavonoids

Yet while the antioxidants were different, the detrimental effect of milk on their absorption was the same. Plants contain many, many different kinds of antioxidants. Until research is done on every single antioxidant known to man, eating a plant-based diet and avoiding milk and all dairy products avoids the question of whether or not dairy is interfering with the function of a particular antioxidant. Plant-based eaters can be sure they are enjoying all the disease protection and cell vitality that plants have to offer. Remember, From Sun to Plant to Plate - That's the Starch-Smart® Solution!

Medical journal references:

(1) Antioxidant Activity of Blueberry Fruit is Impaired by Association with Milk

(2) Antioxidant Status in Humans after Consumption of Blackberry Juices With and Without Defatted Milk

(3) Neal Barnard MD demonstrates how milk blocks iron absorption

(4) Plasma Antioxidants from Chocolate

(5) Nutrient-Blocking Effects From Dairy

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