Winter weather brings on colds and flu. We already have a cure for the common cold (problem: the drug companies won’t manufacture it), so many people visit the health food store for remedies. If you’re one of them, here are some things you should know: the popular over-the-counter herbal treatment echinacea only relieves symptoms for 10 hours (which is not considered a significant decrease and may even be a placebo effect).

But here’s another "natural" healer: Eat an orange! (NOTE: Subscribers can still listen to this show). But an orange–it’s known for its vitamin C and blood-protecting antioxidants, but researchers wanted to learn why a real orange works better than a supplement. Nutritionist Tory Parker says, "There’s something about an orange that’s better than taking a vitamin C capsule, and that’s really what we’re trying to figure out. We think it’s the particular mixture of antioxidants in an orange that makes it so good for you."

Every time we eat carbs and fat, we increase the amount of free radicals in our blood. Over time, that increases our chance for hardened arteries and heart disease. But eating fruit protects us from that effect for a few hours after every meal. Parker says, "Carbs and fat increase free radicals, and fruit and internal antioxidants counteract that. That means fruit should be your dessert–remember, before cookies, candy and other sugary snacks became so widespread, fruit was our ‘sweet.’" He will continue to research in human studies to evaluate whether their health effects mimic those of eating an orange, and is also conducting similar work with blueberries and strawberries.

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