Michael van Straten
Michael van Straten
australiaphen375.com

Orac

This week we're not looking at vitamins, minerals or trace elements, but at a totally new unit which measures the protective antioxidant value of individual foods. To explain what ORAC is and which foods have the highest value, Naturopath Michael van Straten tells you how to slow ageing, avoid disease, and even prevent wrinkles.

In recent years it's become increasingly evident that populations who eat diets very from the typical British fare seem to be much healthier than us. The French have less heart disease, Greek men live longer, Japanese women have less breast cancer and osteoporosis and don't even have a word for hot flushes. Initially scientists thought these health benefits came from the extra vitamins and minerals in the higher consumption of fruits, vegetables, fish, olive oil, nuts and seeds. But when studies were done in which people on a typical UK diet were given vitamin and mineral supplements, the results were disappointing. The riddle was solved by scientists in America. The US Department of Agriculture funds the Human Nutrition Research Center on Ageing at Tufts University in Boston where they've been studying antioxidants for some years. Researcher Dr. Rob Prior and his colleagues decided to look at the antioxidant properties of whole foods rather than the individual vitamins and minerals they contain.

Antioxidants are powerful protective substances which fight off the damaging effects of free radicals that are produced in the body by its own chemical processes and that get into the body through polluted air, water and food. In just the same way that your iron garden gate goes rusty because of free radicals in the atmosphere, painting it acts as a barrier and stops the chemicals attacking the iron. Antioxidants in food do the same job for every cell in your body.

In their natural state plants contain over four thousand different antioxidant chemicals which protect you against many life threatening conditions, like heart disease, arterial damage, many forms of cancer and skin ageing - particularly wrinkles. The Tufts researchers discovered that the protective value could be measured in Oxygen Radical Absorption Capacity units - ORACs - and that the highest protection against all these diseases was achieved when the daily diet provided five thousand ORACs. Here in the UK we struggle to achieve a daily intake of 1,500 ORAC units. But nothing could be easier than boosting this to 5,000 and more.

So where do you find these miracle foods - at the greengrocer, the street market, the corner shop, the supermarket, the hedgerow and even in your own back garden. They are simple, everyday, inexpensive fruits and vegetables and colour is a good guide as the highest ORAC score is found in the deeply coloured produce. Dark green, deep red, purple, blue, yellow and bright orange are those to look for. Of course the vitamins and minerals are essential to life but it's the ORAC score that helps determine how long, how healthy and how free from disease and premature ageing that life is going to be.

As always in nature, it's the interaction between all the natural chemicals in the plants that produce this magical benefit so you have to eat the foods - you can't get them in any pill. Remember 5,000 is the optimum number of ORACs to aim for and here's the easiest way to get them.

BEST SOURCES

Prunes
5770 / 100 g
Percentage of daily requirement: 115% from average 100 g portion
ORAC score: 10/10

Blueberries
2400 / 100 g
Percentage of daily requirement: 48% from average 100 g portion
ORAC score: 5/10

Strawberries
1540 / 100 g
Percentage of daily requirement: 46% from average 150 g portion
ORAC score: 5/10

Spinach
1260 / 100 g
Percentage of daily requirement: 30% from average 120 g portion
ORAC score: 3/10

Brussel sprouts
980 / 100 g
Percentage of daily requirement: 29% from average 150 g portion
ORAC score: 3/10

Plums
950 / 100 g
Percentage of daily requirement: 38% from average 200 g portion
ORAC score: 4/10

Baked beans
503 / 100 g
Percentage of daily requirement: 20% from average 200 g portion
ORAC score: 2/10

Garlic
1940 / 100 g
Percentage of daily requirement: 19% from average 50 g portion
ORAC score: 2/10


For a complete chart of ORAC foods and 150 delicious high ORAC recipes, see 'The ORACle Diet' by Michael van Straten, published by Kyle Cathie at GBP 10.99.

 

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