Maximize the Benefits From Your Fruits and Veggies


The research is very clear, the more fruits and vegetables you eat, the healthier and longer you live. But why? One clue is because they have color, and that color comes from polyphenols.

Polyphenols are the key defense system for plants to fight off microbial invaders. Since we have 10 times more microbes in our gut than our body, it makes sense for us to also have these complex defensive weapons at our disposal by consuming them.

Fruits-Veggies-Blog-10ServingsEven more importantly, these same polyphenols can interact with our genes to turn on anti-aging genes. In The Mediterranean Zone, I point out that the high levels of polyphenols consumed in the Mediterranean diet is one of the key reasons for its health benefits. As discussed in the book, you need a lot of polyphenols, at least 1,000 mg per day, to begin to get their health benefits. That usually means eating a lot of vegetables and fruits (about 10 servings of vegetables and fruits per day). Of course, white carbohydrates (like grains and starches) such as bread, pizza, pasta, rice and potatoes have few if any polyphenols since they have no color. As a result, diets that are rich in these carbohydrates have virtually nothing to offer for improving ones long-term health.

The Zone Diet is concerned not only about the amount of polyphenols consumed, but also the levels of carbohydrates that come with them. So to get the optimal health benefits, what is important is the ratio of polyphenols per gram of carbohydrate in any vegetable or fruit. The higher the polyphenol/carbohydrate content, the greater the health benefits. That also means the lower the polyphenol/carbohydrate ratio, the fewer the health benefits.

So how do the five most commonly consumed fruits and vegetables in the American diet stack up (considering that most Americans don’t like to eat fruits and vegetables in the first place) in providing the maximum polyphenols with the least amount of accompanying carbohydrates? Using the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) database you can see how many polyphenols Americans are actually consuming per serving.


A couple of things are apparent from this table from the USDA.

  • First, a serving size of vegetables is pretty large if you are trying to get 10 servings per day.
  • Second, outside of eating massive amounts of tomatoes and romaine lettuce, you are not getting a very good return on polyphenols consumed without also consuming a lot of carbohydrates at the same time.
  • Third, Americans aren’t getting much color in their diets
  • Fourth, apparently the USDA doesn’t realize a tomato is actually a fruit, not a vegetable.

So let’s try to do the same for the five most commonly consumed fruits in the American diet according to the USDA.


You can see the average American is not getting adequate levels of polyphenols from fruits (unless it is a strawberry) without taking in a lot of carbohydrates at the same time. For the sake of comparison, a serving (1 cup, diced) of white potatoes has a polyphenol per gram of carbohydrate ratio of 10.

So what’s the answer to get enough polyphenols to live a longer and better life without over-consuming accompanying carbohydrates? First, eat a lot of vegetables like grilled asparagus and artichokes as Italians do and also add fruits like tomato (even though the USDA classifies it as vegetable) and berries like Italians do.

Seems hard (unless you go a lot to Italy), but you have another alternative; the use of purified polyphenol extracts like MaquiRx®. As much as I would like to calculate the polyphenol/carbohydrate ratio of MaquiRx, it contains 120 mg of polyphenols and zero carbohydrates per capsule so you have to divide 120 by zero and that’s a very big number.

Bottom line, getting the greatest number of polyphenols with the least amount of carbohydrates is your best health insurance policy possible. That also means MaquiRx represents an excellent dietary return on your investment.

Zone Diet Polyphenols

About Dr. Barry Sears

Dr. Barry Sears is a leading authority on the impact of the diet on hormonal response, genetic expression, and inflammation. A former research scientist at the Boston University School of Medicine and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Dr. Sears has dedicated his research efforts over the past 45 years to the study of lipids. He has published 40 scientific articles and holds 14 U.S. patents in the areas of intravenous drug delivery systems and hormonal regulation for the treatment of cardiovascular disease. He has also written 14 books, including the New York Times #1 best-seller, The Zone, which have sold more than 6 million copies in the U.S. and have been translated into 22 different languages.


  1. chris stephens

    I recently got my AA/EPA results back. My ratio is 1.3. I take 4 OmegaRx2 pills and 1 MaquiRx a day. I easily get 10 servings of fruits and vegetables a day. I’m planning to cut back on OmegaRx2 to 2 pills and will retest in a few months. With my copious consumption of fruits/vegetables, is there an advantage to take MaquiRx? Would I benefit from taking more?

  2. Monica Menco

    Your comment about the USDA not knowing that a tomoato is a fruit reminded me that the US Supreme Court actually gave the tomato the legal status of “vegetable” back in 1893 in the case Nix v. Hedden, 149 U.S. 304. The Court acknowledged that even though the tomato was a fruit the botanical sense, Americans used it as a vegetable and so it should be viewed as such in terms of tariff laws at least. You may recal that the USDA tried to classify ketchup as a vegetable back in 1981 when it was setting up guidelines for school lunch programs. (it didn’t work.)

  3. Susan

    So would you recommend taking SeaHealth Plus and MaquiRx for maximum benefit? Or alternate days with these products? If so how much?

  4. Sheila

    Hello — I seem to bruise more (or at least they show up more) when I take fish oil – should I be concerned? I have recently learned that I may have Leiden Factor V blood disorder – if I can’t take fish oil, what else can I do aside from eating the zone diet? Thank you.

  5. Rick

    Zone Rx Bar = 375mg Polyphenols. Are all the Polyphenols MaquiRx? One MaquiRx is 120mg. Would it be ok to eat just three ZoneRx bars per day and save money by eliminating the MaquiRx capsule? Please explain the relationship and importance of Delphinol.

    • Barry Sears

      The polyphenols in the ZoneRx bar are a combination of MaquiRx (i.e. Dephinol) and our new cadmium-free cocoa polyphenol extract. The 3 ZoneRx bars would contain the same amount of one MaquiRx capsule with the rest coming from the cocoa polyphenols. The purified Maqui polyphenols are absorbed intact to exert their effects on the gene activation, whereas the cocoa polyphenols are further metabolized in the gut to enhance blood flow and reduce insulin resistance as well as generate improved gut microbiota health.

  6. Sue T.

    I am on the 5th week on the Zone diet. I love the results of my glucose check. I reread two of your books because without a medical background, I find it difficult to understand. I do know the diet works for me. I don’t mind eating this way at all although after reading your reply, I am eating way too much fruit and not enough vegetables. I have your books Mastering the Zone, and The Anti Aging Zone My next move is to get the test for AA/EPA.

    • Barry Sears

      You are well on your way to reaching the Zone and more importantly staying there. The AA/EPA test will allow you to fine-tune the exact amount of OmegaRx 2 you need. This is how personalized nutrition should be done.

  7. TRM

    “so you have to divide 120 by zero and that’s a very big number” – To infinity, and beyond 🙂

    – Buzz Lightyear

    • Barry Sears

      Asthma is an auto-immune disorder. The Zone Diet was developed to help manage such conditions by balancing the inflammatory response. The combination of the Zone Diet and the OmegaRx 2 fish oil would be an ideal combination.

  8. Jan Williamson

    How does your ‘Sea Health Plus’ compare to MaquiRx? I have been consuming 2 to 3 capfuls a day for several years in the I hope that I have been adding to my polyphenol consumption.

    • Barry Sears

      The polyphenols in the Sea Health are not as bioavailable as the MaquiRx, but they are excellent for gut health. The SeaHealth Plus provides a wide variety of trace minerals in the sea vegetables that are essential for human health as well as supplying unique fermentable fiber for increasing microbial diversity in the gut.

  9. Beth Bush-Donovan

    I have been a loyal follower of yours for going 20 years. I have to say this particular piece reads mor like an ad than educational.. Say someone who can only afford your fish oil or the Maquirx , which would you say is more important? Thanks!

    • Barry Sears

      The fish oil is your most important supplement for the Zone Diet since it is difficult to consume enough omega-3 fatty acids in the diet to lower the AA/EPA ratio to an appropriate range to balance the body’s inflammatory responses. You can get enough polyphenols for gut health and potentially for the AMP kinase activation needed for mitochondrial health by eating 10 servings of vegetables or fruits per day. However, the delphinidin polyphenols in the MaquiRx are unique because of their greater bioavailability therefore increasing the inability to activate AMP kinase in human cells.

  10. Sam

    I understand you want to promote your product, but how about educating people on how to maximize their polyphenol intake and their polyphenols to carb ratio NATURALLY. You provide the data on current consumption and show why it’s not ideal, how about guidance to highlight fruits and vegetables people SHOULD be consuming. That would be significantly more helpful than promoting pill popping!

    • Barry Sears

      A typical serving of a fruit or vegetable contains about 100 mg. of polyphenol. So you need at least 10 servings of fruits and vegetables per day to get 1,000 mg of polyphenols. Furthermore, fruits are rich in carbohydrates making it more difficult to control blood sugar levels. The Zone Diet recommends 8 servings of non-starchy vegetables per day and two servings of fruit so that only moderate levels of protein are needed to balance blood sugar levels induced by the incoming carbohydrates. However, most polyphenols are not well absorbed and therefore do not get into the blood. The delphinidins found in MaquiRx are directly absorbed because of their higher bioavailability compared all other known polyphenols. It is not the amount that you consume, but the levels that are absorbed that give rise to the health benefits inherent in polyphenols.

  11. RC

    So if a person is elderly and does not eat a lot of veggies/fruits how much MaquiRx per day should they take?


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