So this is going to be an unpopular opinion.

Eating fruits and vegetables for antioxidants is pointless.

Here’s the idea:

Oxidation creates these free radicals which are like these flying molecules inside our cells that damage our cellular machinery, like DNA. And this destruction increases our risk for cancer, aging, and chronic disease.

Because of this nasty process we should take anti-oxidants to neutralize these dangerous free radicals before they can do harm.

Make’s sense, right?

Studies on animals even show that the longest living animals had the most resistance to oxidative stress. And that an overexpression of antioxidative genes extends life.

Convincing. This is why we’ve been told how great fruits and vegetables are because they are rich in anti-oxidants.

Exogenous (from diet/supplements) Antioxidants

Well it turns out adding exogenous anti-oxidants via diet doesn’t make us healthier. Studies outside of the test tube don’t hold up. The antioxidants that plants make are actually for them, not us. They can even be harmful to us.

Plant antioxidants have poor bioavailability. They are difficult for us to absorb and can interfere with important amino and fatty acids (i.e. they are antinutrients). They have to be transformed before absorbed. And/or they are rapidly eliminated from the body before they can even reach our cells. (r)

Scientifically, there is simply no reason to believe eating non-essential antioxidants improve human health whether from fruits and vegetables or supplements.

Endogenous (Human) Antioxidants

Luckily, we humans make our own, powerful, antioxidants.

One’s actually designed for us.

Oxidation is suppose to be a natural process within cells and we have an antioxidant called glutathione that is a workhorse at cleaning up free radicals and keeping oxidation and antioxidation in balance.

Balancing Act

Balance is the key. Excessive oxidation is the problem.

So what disrupts the balance?

Unnatural pro-oxidants like alcohol and smoking expose the body to unnatural oxidative environments that overwhelm the cells ability to handle all these free radicals.

I’d argue that one of the biggest disruptors is sugar and refined carbs that are powerful promoters of free radical production and oxidation.

Our bodies aren’t designed for the unnatural quantity of sugars and starches in our modern diet. They overwhelm our cells creating more free radicals than glutathione can handle.

Picture Perfect Pomegranate

Pomegranate is a perfect example. It’s marketed as overflowing with free-radical-squashing-antioxidants and one sip is like drinking from the fountain of youth.

pomagranate antioxidants

When in reality we absorb far less than 1% if any of these antioxidants.

But what you do absorb is a lot of sugar, which is a powerful promoter of oxidation.

Like pomegranate juice, most of these “health” foods are undoubtedly net harmful.

But what about the vitamins and minerals? Don’t we need these from fruits and vegetables? Nope.

What about the fiber? No again.

So I’d recommend saving your money and using it to buy an actual health food, like a nice steak.

If you’d like to learn more about how to avoid deficiencies and do a meat-based / carnivore diet, I’d highly recommend watching the Meat Health Masterclass:

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