Learn About The ORAC Factor
Free radicals, and the damage they can do at the cellular level, have received a lot of attention in the last few years. The oxidative stress caused by free radicals, which are produced during normal metabolism and cell function, as well as pollutants in our air, water and our food, have been implicated in everything from aging and wrinkling of skin, to DNA damage, diabetes, cancer and heart disease. Although the human body has a number of systems to eliminate free radicals, the systems do not work at a 100% efficiency level.
A diet rich in vegetables, fruits and nuts has long been known to be a great source of antioxidants, which help the body eliminate free radicals.
As a part of the National Food and Nutrient Analysis in collaboration with the Produce For Better Health Foundation, the USDA researchers at Tufts University in Boston, Massachusetts, undertook analysis of individual fruits, nuts and vegetables to measure the OXYGEN RADICAL ABSORPTION CAPACITY of the different foods
Known as the ‘ORAC Scale’, it is one of the most sensitive and reliable methods for measuring antioxidant capacity.
What that means is, it measures the pace at which nutrients can ‘eat up’ free radicals, such as cellular waste in the body. On the ORAC scale chart, a food is given a numerical value per 100 grams food weight (about 3 1/2 ounces); the higher the numerical value given to a food, the more antioxidant capacity that it has.
Download your own copy of the ORAC Value Chart
There are some interesting points to notice when you read this chart. One is that spices have HUGE antioxidant capacity! Turmeric, for example rates at 159,277; it’s highly antioxidant! Cinnamon has a rating of 267,536, another top-shelf antioxidant! That said, you’ll notice lots of herbs and spices used in Nina Cucina recipes; the addition of spices is not only for the flavor aspect but for the nutritional aspect as well.
Did you know that India has a low incidence of intestinal and colon cancer? Could it be that turmeric, the spice that makes curry powder yellow, has something to do with this statistic? Some scientists think so.
So how do we do get these great spices in our diet?
Check out a few of my spice-rich main course recipes such as: Beef Tagine or Moroccan Seafood, both of which are loaded with antioxidant rich spices. A simple way to add turmeric to your diet is to add it to scrambled eggs in the morning. It gives the eggs a beautiful springtime yellow hue and really boosts antioxidant power!
So go have some fun in the kitchen spicing up your dishes; your body will thank you with optimum health!
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