Have you ever been on a date and said “let’s stop by Whole Foods and check out foods that are high in ORAC!” and your date said “you are so not getting laid tonight?”
Yeah, well good. That wasn’t a smooth move at all. However, if you fancy yourself to be a smart person of sorts, or average smart, when it comes to what you eat, knowing what ORAC is can be useful.
So let’s say you are a person that constantly tries to impress people at parties or girls at the bar with your ORAC knowledge. Playing that whole “wow! these berries have an 4,009 ORAC value” really doesn’t mean a lot to the average Joe. Much like the age of a cougar, it’s just a number. OR IS IT?
Oxygen Radical Absorbance Capacity (ORAC) is a lab test that quantifies the total antioxidant capacity of food by placing a sample of the food in a test tube along with molecules that generate free radical activity and certain other molecules that are vulnerable to oxidation. After a bit, they measure how well the sample protected the weak molecules from oxidation of the free radicals. The less damage, the higher the antioxidant capacity.
Too complex for you? Are you asking me “what the fuck is an antioxidant?” Well, aside from it being an excellent Soilent Green song, it’s a molecule that inhibits the oxidation of other molecules. Are you now asking, “what the fuck is oxidation of molecules?” Well that my friends is a chemical reaction involving the loss of electrons and/or the increase in oxidation state. And that can produce free radicals.
I already know where this is going. “What the fuck are free radicals, MAN???” well you might think they are hippies looking to give peace a chance but that isn’t true. Radicals are already free, more free than you and me actually (less government oversight and less taxes probably.) Normally the body can handle some of the free radicals, but if antioxidants aren’t available, cell damage can occur. Got it? And since vitamins C and E are important to antioxidant production eating plenty of foods that are high in ORAC are important. This is why people have been flipping out and smothering themselevs in blueberries in public places once finding this information out. It’s quite exciting really.
So now back to what we were going to bring up in the first place. Since we know what ORAC is and why it is important, this isn’t the time to go bragging to your friend you read an article on it and think you’re a college professor on the subject (like what people do with the whole Anti-Vaccination argument). what is important is knowing the foods that are high in ORAC and eating enough of them to be a virtual free-radical fighting machine.
Cloves, not blueberies, are the top edible substance for kicking free radicals to the curb. You can either put them into a coffee grinder or get clove oil. Also, ground cinnamon is super high in ORAC as well, and who doesn’t love cinnamon? (answer? communists!) Along with cinnamon, tumeric is also up there (which is also a great anti-flammoratory).
To be fair, the first real edible food that is high in ORAC is the hard-to-pronounce Acai Berry (mouth open wide and go AAHHH-SEEE-AH like a tribesman and everyone will laugh and you). And then everything from Curry powder, to baking chocolate to parsley to ginger is up on the list. A lot of fresh herbs and ground up spices top the list honestly. Black pepper, Thyme, Mustard Seed, Safe, Cumin (hehe) and such lead that list. It isn’t until we get towards Goji berries, Pecans and dark chocolate do we have foods that would work as on-the-go snacks.
None the less, getting a lot of foods with a high ORAC value, while not important to the possibility of getting laid on your next date, is important in the healthy eating habits of the anti-aging crowd. Our next article we will be discussing something tied into this, but for now, review this handy dandy chart and make sure you consume plenty of these foods. This way, age can really be just a number.