Why Whole Foods are Better
There's just no substitute for meeting your nutritional
needs the old-fashioned way. "It doesn't matter how you
try," says Cornell University food scientist Rui Hai Liu,
"vitamin supplements cannot match the combinations of
compounds in whole foods." Taken together within a whole
(minimally processed) food, these substances are
synergistic, producing a stronger effect than any of the
individual nutrients does on its own.
Liu and his colleagues came to their conclusions after
years of studying more than 8,000 antioxidants and other
chemicals found in fruits, vegetables and whole grains.
They found that because these compounds differ in their
molecular size, polarity and solubility, they produce a
powerful natural combination that is more biologically
available to human cells, organs and tissues than any
single nutrient or pill.
One medium apple, for example, with only 6 milligrams (mg)
of vitamin C, has enough other antioxidants —
quercetin, procyanidins, carcchin and epicatcchin —
to produce as much antioxidant activity as 1,500 mg of
vitamin C supplements.
In the case of whole grains, part of the advantage comes
from the digestive process itself. Compounds in whole
grains are bound in the cell walls and until recently were
believed to be an indigestible part of the fiber. In fact,
90 percent of the compounds are bound, passing through the
stomach and small intestines undigested.
But Liu found that the bound compounds are released further
down by the microflora in the colon. These compounds in
whole wheat have potent antioxidant and anticancer
properties that can profoundly affect colon health. Refined
grain products even "fortified" with added vitamins cannot
"We still don't know all the compounds that are important
or how they work together," Liu says. "I have never taken
dietary supplements. I eat all kinds of fruit, including a
daily apple, vegetables and whole grains. There is no other
way to get that much nutrition."
[Source: Eating Well Magazine and American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, both September
Frankenfood Setbacks Chronicled Around the
Two manufacturers of genetically modified (GM) crops took
major hits to their international expansion plans this
spring, and a U.S.-based organic group is urging a
tightening of regulations of GM crops in this country.
In Great Britain, one of the manufacturing firms, Bayer
CropScience, discontinued its efforts to commercialize GM
corn, citing constraints set by the UK government, which
had just allowed the crop after a three-year review.
In Australia, the Victoria state government has implemented
a four-year moratorium on GM crops, halting for the time
being efforts by another manufacturer, Monsanto Australia,
to introduce GM canola there. Other Australian states have
taken similar actions.
In the United States, the Organic Trade Association is
calling for more regulation of the GM industry. Also, the
Pew Initiative, in a special report released in April, has
laid out a number of options that ought to be considered in
any updating of the current GM regulations. For details on
either U.S. action, go to: www.ota.com and