Another nutritional buzzword?
What is ORAC?
ORAC, developed by the National Institutes of Health, is Oxygen Radical Absorbance Capacity and represents foods’ antioxidant power—a food’s free radical destroying potential– how much radical oxygen a food can absorb.
Free radicals form from normal oxidative processes that arise from both inside and outside our bodies. Within our bodies these processes include metabolism, aerobic respiration and inflammation. The exogenous, outside bodies, free radicals form from pollution, sunlight, X-rays, smoke, cleaners, and herbicides.
Free radicals are unstable because they do not have an even number of electrons; thus they are searching for an extra electron so they can become stable. Therefore, free radicals are ‘free’ because they float around until they stabilize; and ‘radical’ because they can take electrons from other molecules.
Antioxidants are nutrients in food that can prevent or slow oxidative damage by acting as free-radical scavengers; antioxidants quench free radical activity by donating their extra electrons to free radicals.
Antioxidant are molecules found in fruits and vegetables, and in the vitamins of these foods particularly A, E and beta-carotene. Best to get antioxidants from a balanced diet (as opposed to supplementation), as the body can easily absorb the nutrients from whole foods.
The value of antioxidants is that ultimately they prevent cell damage and/or death—a pathway for cancer, aging and many illnesses and diseases.
List of foods high in ORAC: http://www.oracvalues.com/sort/orac-value