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Ask Tufts Experts December 2014 Issue

Q. For years I’ve daily eaten blueberries and a few walnuts with 1% milk. But recently I was told that milk neutralizes the antioxidant benefit of the blueberries. Is this true, and if so does milk similarly affect other berries and antioxidant-rich foods? Would yogurt do the same thing?

A. Jeffrey Blumberg, PhD, director of Tufts’ HNRCA Antioxidants Research Laboratory, replies: “Some research studies do suggest that the protein in milk binds to flavonoids, a large class of dietary antioxidants including the anthocyanins found in blueberries and other colorful berry fruit. However, these data have been generated from small studies and the results are not entirely consistent and may be confounded by other dietary components of a snack or meal. While yogurt has not been tested in these studies, it does, of course, contain the same type of protein as milk. It is useful to keep in mind that many of the nutrients in foods interact with one another, sometimes in additive and sometimes in negative ways, but if you eat a healthful diet, you will consume—and absorb—plenty of these beneficial compounds.”

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