It seems that everything we do increases our risk of one disease or another, so it?s nice to hear about some new research which says that certain foods in our meals could actually reduce our disease risk.

It is known that eating itself can create oxidative stress, which over time can increase inflammation, illness and disease. But scientists have come up with a strategy that may reduce this. The timing of nutrient intake, rather than nutrient intake per se, seems to be the crucial factor.

The evidence

Research, published in the Journal of the American College of Nutrition, measured the difference between oxidative stress indicators after a meal containing protein, carbohydrates and fats, and one which also included antioxidant-rich fruits and vegetables.

Oxidative stress is known to be linked with the progression of many diseases, and therefore reducing this stress could also reduce risk. Blood samples were taken before and after each meal, with those meals not including fruit and vegetables showing a decrease in blood antioxidant capacity (AOC), indicating increased oxidative stress.

The consumption of antioxidant-rich food appeared to blunt oxidative stress after a meal, with AOC increasing.

Layman lowdown

If each meal itself can create oxidative stress, that could increase our likelihood of disease. We could reduce this effect by including fruit and veg with each meal. The researchers comment: ?It?s not just what you eat but when you eat it that matters.

Phytochemicals in foods have varying degrees of bio-availability and generally are cleared from the blood two to four hours after they?re eaten. Ensuring that your body has a steady supply of antioxidant-rich foods can combat oxidative stress through the day.?

CW says

If you?re only consuming fruit or vegetables in snacks and omit them from your regular meals, this research suggests that a steady supply in each meal will provide greater health protection. Choose dark fruits and vegetables as these are generally richer in antioxidants.