Free radical damage happens as cells turn over and create waste; it is accelerated when the body is under stress, or in the presence of toxic substances. This simple fact is one of the leading theories on aging and cancer, but we can help the body by providing it with foods high in antioxidants. Think of it as arming every cell with high-quality swords, ammunition and maps.
High-ORAC foods are believed to fight free radical damage. The antioxidant power of foods is assessed by ORAC value, or Oxygen Radical Absorbance Capacity, which is established by the renowned U.S. National Institute on Aging in the National Institutes of Health (NIH). The website www.oracvalues.com lists all the foods that have been tested and their values.
There is some pretty weird stuff at the top of this list such as sumac bran. Unless you are lost in the forest or starving when you have a flat tire on the side of a northern road, I doubt you are picking sumac and eating it. You could! And you can certainly find it dried as a spice in Middle Eastern shops or high end food purveyors. But there is an easier way.
The useful stuff at the top of the ORAC list is some of the smallest, most obvious items in your pantry: spices.
Find as many ways as you can to increase your use of these at the very top this list. Or, simply click through for a recipe.
Theresa Albert is an author and private, on call nutritionist in Toronto. She is @theresaalbert on twitter and found daily at www.myfriendinfood.com