Researchers in Iran found that women whose diet had more antioxidants were less likely to experience menopausal symptoms such as hot flashes.

They came to this conclusion after crunching data of 400 postmenopausal women collected by municipal health centers across the southern part of Tehran, Iran´s capital.

The main objective was to assess the association between menopausal symptoms caused by decline of estrogen and progesterone levels (hot flashes, night sweats, insmonia, irritability) with dietary total antioxidant capacity – an index which «considers all of the antioxidants and their accumulative and synergistic effect rather than a simple sum of individual antioxidant present in the diet,» they explained.

«Dietary total antioxidants capacity was negatively associated with total Menopause Rating Scale score», they reported, regardless of education, waist circunference, total physical activity, dietary intake of fiber, tea and coffee intake, total energy intake, and dietary supplement use.

«These findings indicate that dietary total antioxidant capacity could be an important basis for developing an effective dietary measure for reducing menopause symptoms,» they argued.

Antioxidant in women´s health

The researchers estimated total antioxidant capacity based on a 147-item food frequency questionnaire.

Their findings echo the results for other studies that explore the link between antioxidant-rich diets and healthy aging in women.

But no study has yet examined the association between dietary total antioxidant capacity and menopausal symptoms, the researchers argued.

Criticism of the ´antioxidant capacity´model

Results have to be taken with a grain of salt, however, as the accuracy ´total antioxidant capacity´(also known as Oxygen Radical Absorbance Capacity or ORAC) model is still up for debate.

The iranian researchers used a U.S. Departament of Agriculure database of ORAC values in food items, which was shuttered in 2012 «due to mounting evidence that the values indicating antioxidant capacity have no relevance to the effects of specific bioactive compounds, including polyphenols on human health» the agency wrote in a memo in 2012.

But experts said that USDA´s decision back then was motivated by a desire to discourage food, beverage, and dietary supplement marketers from abusing the data in advertising and labeling.

In research, assays developed to assess foods and ingredients for total antioxidant capacity are useful methods for ranking and selecting items for further study, Jeffrey Blumberg, PhD, chief scientist at the Antioxidant Research Laboratory at Tufts University, told us in a past interview.

» These tools, particularly ORAC values, then morphed into marketing claims touting the antioxidant content of foods, beverages, and supplements,» he added.
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