Another health scare made front page news this week. A Danish study pooling 67 randomised trials with 232,550 participants concluding that taking "beta-carotene, vitamin A, and vitamin E significantly increased mortality". And taking vitamin C had "no significant benefit".
The mass media attention is fuelled by our mistrust of 'nasty chemicals' which we forget are in natural foods as well as - in pure form - in test tubes.
The BBC website reports that "After various factors were taken into account and a further 20 studies excluded, the researchers linked vitamin A supplements to a 16% increased risk of dying, beta-carotene to a 7% increased risk and vitamin E to a 4% increased risk." Scary stuff? Maybe, considering how many vitamins are both naturally present in and added to foods, including bread and cereals. How many realise synthetic vitamin A is added to cod liver oil pills, usually taken as a traditional 'natural' remedy?
One blogger at least believes it is all lies, damn lies and statistics. Letters from a Tory reports that the studies used on average a dose of around 8 times the recommended amount for vitamin A, and other averages were also well above recommended amounts.
Does that make pills that deliver 100% of RDA 100% safe? I still somehow doubt it, so I'll mostly be sticking to as much fruit and veg as possible, including my own list of so-called 'superfoods' which, whatever the exact merits of the claims made for them, just happen to be delicious:
- Broccoli: rich in vitamins A and C and anti-cancer ingredients, reduces cholesterol and has anti-viral benefits*
- Garlic: regulates blood pressure, anti-viral and good for the heart
- Mushrooms: anti-viral
- Spinach: high in beta-carotene, good for the eyes, bones and more*
- Cooked tomatoes: anti-cancer properties, anti-inflammatory*
- Watercress: anti-cancer properties
- Turmeric: anti-inflammatory and anti-viral, resists Alzheimers
- Ginger: anti-oxidant, anti-coagulant, promotes healing
- Oily fish: anti-viral and good for the heart
- Raw olive oil: anti-inflammatory and cholesterol lowering
- Apples: cholesterol lowering, eliminate toxins*
- Blueberries: over-hyped but taste good!*
- Cranberries: good for the kidney
- Grapefruit: anti-coagulant, and more
- Kiwifruit: high in vitamin C, anti-oxidant, eye protecting*
- Pineapple: anti-inflammatory
- Pomegranate: good for the heart?
- Strawberries: lower blood pressure, anti-ageing and good for the heart
- Walnuts: anti-inflammatory and cholesterol lowering*
- Green tea: anti-oxidant and makes you feel good
- Dark chocolate: lowers blood pressure and makes you feel good
- Red wine: lowers cholesterol and makes you feel good