Raisins and Oxidation

Science: Raisins and Oxidation
Terry Howell passed on an article on the effects of raisins as an in-competition food. In research spnosored by the California Raisin Council, triathletes completed two pro-distance triathlons two weeks apart. In the first, half got raisins and half got the same number of calories in a glucose drink. In the second, the groups were reversed. The researcher found the raisins resulted in significantly less oxidative damage to DNA taken from post-event urine samples. An interesting result.
A little caution may be reasonable, though. First, the research was presented at a conference, not in a peer-reviewed journal. Second, industry-sponsored research (in this case, that attributes benefits not to raisins generally, but specifically to California raisins) has not proved to be the most reliable in the past. (In general, researchers whose work is good enough to earn funding from the National Science Foundation don’t apply to industry promotional groups for grants.) Third, no athlete would actually take a pure glucose drink when exercising – you can’t buy one; sugar-water is actually a mixture of sucrose and fructose – but how raisins stack up against modern sports drinks wasn’t reported. Fourth, the sensitivity and specificity of the DNA testing wasn’t reported – there is more than one way to test DNA. Finally, the effects of antioxidents and of oxidative damage during exercise are not even close to well-understood. On the plus side, though, raisins are pretty good. (10/8)

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