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Is That Right? 7-Up "Antioxidant"

The copy advertising new Cherry 7-Up Antioxidant says, "There's never been a more delicious way to cherry pick your antioxidant."

That's antioxidant, singular.

The drink's Web site calls the product a "healthy boost" whose "splash of antioxidant" will "help you through your day."

The antioxidant at hand is Vitamin E, of which an 8-ounce serving of Cherry 7-Up provides 10 percent of the Daily Value. Like other antioxidants, Vitamin E is thought to help protect against heart disease and cancer by interfering with the activity of unfettered oxygen particles -- free radicals -- that roam your body, causing inflammation and other damage.

But not all Vitamin E is created equal. Studies have shown that Vitamin E in supplement form (as in this 7-Up; more on that in a moment) doesn't offer protection against cardiovascular disease or cancer; one study in 2004 even showed that very high doses of Vitamin E supplements increased risk of death, though only by a tiny bit. And more recent research suggests that taking Vitamin E supplements may diminish the benefits of exercise.

So it's generally recommended that we get the 20-odd daily milligrams (the Daily Value is 30 International Units) of Vitamin E we need from such food sources as almonds, wheat germ and leafy greens.

None of which are to be found in Cherry 7-Up Antioxidant. The product, though it is said to be naturally flavored, contains no juice, according to its label. And the ingredient list includes Vitamin E acetate, a man-made supplement.

It's hard to figure why its makers cherry-picked Vitamin E -- and why they didn't toss in other popular antioxidants such as Vitamin C and Vitamin A while they were at it. At least then they could have touted antioxidants, plural.

In any case, whether you buy it sweetened with high fructose corn syrup or the artificial sweetener Splenda, 7-Up has no nutritional value. But I have to wonder whether adding the antioxidant is a move intended to sidestep a soda tax, should one materialize. Would highly sweetened sodas be exempt from such a tax if their makers could argue that because they contain an antioxidant, they were a source of nutrition and not just another cause of obesity?

Food for thought.

By Jennifer LaRue Huget  |  October 2, 2009; 7:00 AM ET
Categories:  Is That Right? , Nutrition and Fitness  
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Very large doses of Vitamin E do increase the risk of death, but not by "a little bit". Several studies have shown that ingestion of large amounts of Vitamin E over time can increase the mortality rate by up to 13%, not an insignificant amount. That means it can shorten your life by more than 1/8 of your expected lifespan. That is definitely not "a little bit".

Posted by: pesto1 | October 2, 2009 12:44 PM | Report abuse

They said, "Pick your antioxidant," not "pick your cancer repellant." Also, you can't add A and C without sigificantly changing the flavor profile.

Posted by: Apostrophe | October 3, 2009 8:13 AM | Report abuse

Cherry 7-up is one of my favorites!

Posted by: RedBird27 | October 3, 2009 8:14 AM | Report abuse

I suspect that, a generation from now, the mass vendors of empty calories will be popularly viewed in the same way we now view cigarette makers.

This latest pitiful stratagem of theirs, adding trace chemicals in order to make dubious "health claims", is similar to the health claims you'd see in early 20th century cigarette adds. And just as thoroughly bogus.

A punitive, market-killing soda tax can't come soon enough. Even if it drives people to make their own sugar water at home, I guarantee they'll NEVER add as much sugar (12 teaspoons per can!) as the soda manufacturers do.

Posted by: DupontJay | October 3, 2009 9:39 AM | Report abuse

Ok so what about Astaxanthin then?

Posted by: timscanlon | October 3, 2009 12:38 PM | Report abuse

Flawed studies financed by the pharmaceutical industry state that Vitamin E doesn't offer protection against cardiovascular disease or cancer. As a class - antioxidants prevent food spoilage. You'll often see ascorbic acid listed in the ingredients of many foods and beverages.

Antioxidants basically do the same thing inside your body. They keep your innards healthy and free from disease. You just have to consume enough of them in the right combination and concentration.

I would never buy any beverage with high fructose corn syrup. The only sweeteners in these beverages should be made with stevia - like in Japan - the healthiest sweetener in the world. This is the reason the Japanese have the most people over 100.

Posted by: alance | October 3, 2009 5:39 PM | Report abuse

The soda tax angle is interesting.

Posted by: Bitter_Bill | October 3, 2009 9:18 PM | Report abuse

I am amazed that some people think they have only one way for themselves and others to enjoy life. I Eat what II choose not get chosen by some "committee I think it is up to genetic/Bio- engineering to rebuild the body for modern times. Those who want to make me "healthy" or waste my time with hated exercise because their brain gets a hormone high. I rather eat sensibly and be in front of my computer. And yes I hate tap water!

Posted by: vx24 | October 6, 2009 10:58 PM | Report abuse

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