Antioxidants – Natures Hidden Jewels
A division of the National Institutes of Health developed a system in 1993 for determining the value of specific foods against disease. They named that system “Oxygen Radical Absorbance Capacity”, usually referred to as ORAC. It is the measurement of the amount of free radicals that a particular food can absorb (neutralize).
The diseases that were studied all related to aging, particularly Alzheimer’s Disease. One of he outcomes of the study is a list of foods that aid healthy aging, increased vitality and reduced disability.
Thank goodness for nature’s tiny jewels!
All Free radicals are a dangerous form of pollution inside your body. This pollution is is the result of the on-going metabolism necessary for life. Metabolism is the process by which your body converts food into energy. So, the more energy you produce, the more pollution in the form of free radicals you generate.
Energy is converted from the food you eat (carbohydrates, protein and fats). Some foods (especially whole foods) also contain tiny “jewels” called Antioxidants. These anti-aging “jewels” are molecules that are used by your body to balance, neutralize or quench free radicals. They will keep helping in that way until they are completely used up.
There is a super efficiency built into whole foods: the macronutrients create energy, and the antioxidants in the same foods neutralize the waste (free radicals). A healthy food will neutralize as many free radicals as it makes. A really good food has enough of these molecular jewels to quench more free radicals than you make metabolizing that food. Eating healthy whole foods will help you feel better today and be healthier tomorrow.
Whole foods – where you find the treasure!
All foods contain antioxidants. Even “junk” foods contain some antioxidants, but they don’t contain enough to improve your health. Junk foods create more pollution than their ORAC ability can neutralize, so you are left imbalanced with an excess of dangerous free radicals.
Certain whole foods concentrate antioxidants better than others. These high power whole foods are associated with longevity and vitality. For instance, for thousands of years ginkgo biloba has been associated with a sharp mind and longevity. The fruit from the ginkgo tree has a variety of concentrated antioxidants that have an affinity for your brain and heart. You can benefit from this rare fruit by taking a whole food concentrate supplement of ginkgo.
Berries are another superb way of getting the high ORAC antioxidants you need. Whole berry concentrates made from blueberries, blackberries, strawberries and raspberries provide nutrients and antioxidants needed for healthy metabolism. Rare berries, such as wolfberry (goji), acai drupes, and terminalia berries also provide a boost of antioxidant power, BUT ONLY IF THEY ARE WHOLE FRUITS!
Products that claim a high ORAC value can be misleading because ORAC can be artificially enhanced without adding to its ability to improve your health. If manufacturers know how the ORAC test is performed, they can literally “cheat” and improve the ORAC score by “folding” the antioxidants. This will artificially increase the ORAC score – without providing any extra benefit to the customer.
A folded extract may have a high ORAC value in the laboratory, but inside your body these beautiful fruits have been turned into something akin to a Frankenstein’s monster! They are not good for you; they may actually make you sick. That’s why it’s so important that you get your antioxidants from whole food sources. Remember, real antioxidants come from real foods.
Add more whole foods to your diet. Make sure they include every color in the rainbow because different antioxidants come from different colors. Then augment your diet with whole food supplements. Whole foods and whole food supplements will work together to improve your metabolism, reduce toxicity, increase vitality and improve your health!
Fruits & Vegetables
ORAC units per 100 grams
(about 3 ½ ounces)
|Plums||949||Red bell pepper||710|
|Source: United States Department of Agriculture, July 2007.|