Augmenting Antioxidants

May 6/Food Business Week -- "Lycopene, a powerful antioxidant present in fruits and vegetables, is the most efficient quencher of singlet oxygen among the carotenoids. There are other natural antioxidants such as carotenoids, vitamin C, tocopherols and polyphenolics in fruits and vegetables that are consumed together and that therefore have potential for synergistic interactions," scientists writing in the Journal of Food Biochemistry report.

"Synergistic effects were determined by combining lycopene with other antioxidants (vitamin E, vitamin C, beta-carotene) in various ratios. A synergistic effect was observed when all four antioxidants were present in combination at high lycopene activity. A synergistic effect was also observed when vitamin E and vitamin C were used in combination at high vitamin E concentrations," wrote J. Chen and colleagues.

The researchers concluded, "It appears that certain combination ratios and concentration levels of these antioxidants have effects to enhance the antioxidant activity, compared to the individual compound, which suggests that similar combinations in the diet or in functional food products might provide greater health beneficial effects."

Chen and colleagues published their study in the Journal of Food Biochemistry ("The Scavenging Capacity of Combinations of Lycopene, Beta-Carotene, Vitamin E, and Vitamin C on the Free Radical 2,2-Diphenyl-1-Picrylhydrazyl (DPPH)." Journal of Food Biochemistry, 2009;33(2):232-245).

Additional information can be obtained by contacting J. Shi, Agriculture & Agri Food Canada, Guelph Food Research Center, Saskatoon, SK, Canada.

From the May 11, 2009, Prepared Foods E-dition