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updated: 1/4/2012 8:11 AM

With grapefruit, is white or red best?

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Q. Is it true that red grapefruit is higher in antioxidants than white grapefruit?

A. Not necessarily. All grapefruit is an excellent source of vitamin C, which acts as an antioxidant. All types also supply compounds called flavonoids, including naringinin.

In animal and cell studies, naringinin decreases growth and increases self-destruction of colon, mouth, skin, lung, breast and stomach cancers. It decreases inflammation and increases enzymes that deactivate carcinogens. In some research, white grapefruit has higher levels of naringinin than red grapefruit, but content varies among individual fruits.

The amount of naringinin may depend more on how much of the white material surrounding grapefruit sections is consumed than on the color of the grapefruit.

Red and pink grapefruit do provide beta-carotene and a compound called lycopene not found in white grapefruit. Lycopene is a carotenoid -- a pigment that's a "cousin" to beta-carotene. It cannot form vitamin A like beta-carotene can, but it is actually a much stronger antioxidant. Especially for those who don't eat tomatoes frequently, choosing red or pink grapefruit makes good sense; the darker the red, the higher the lycopene content.

till, all types of grapefruit are healthy choices that provide a variety of compounds that promote health, both as antioxidants and through other mechanisms.

Q. Does soup really help you lose weight?

A. Some research suggests that starting a meal with soup may help fill you up and reduce the calories you consume at the rest of the meal.

For this to work, the soup needs to be broth- or vegetable-based, not a high-calorie cheesy or creamy soup. You are more likely to be successful with this strategy if foods you eat following the soup are served in smaller portions, because studies have clearly established that for many of us, overeating is not necessarily due to more hunger, but a response to seeing more food.

Another way you can use soup to help with weight loss is to make your soup a complete meal using plenty of lower calorie vegetables. Be sure to include beans, chicken, fish or other lean protein in addition to a bevy of vegetables, and perhaps a whole grain like brown rice or whole-wheat pasta.

For overall good health, keep in mind that if you include soup frequently in your meals, prepared commercial soup can be very high in sodium. Regular commercial soup often contains from 750 to 1000 milligrams (mg) per 1-cup serving (if you start with condensed soup, that means less than half of a 10-ounce can). That's a hefty portion of the suggested maximum of 1500 to 2300 mg of sodium a day.

Reduced-sodium versions often contain 400 to 850 mg per cup, which is better, but definitely not truly low-sodium. You can dilute reduced-sodium soups with an equal amount of sodium-free bouillon for a further cut, adding onion, garlic and herbs for plenty of flavor. Or make your own soup starting with low-sodium broth or no added salt tomatoes as a base.

• Provided by the American Institute for Cancer Research.

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