Studies at the Jean Mayer USDA Human Nutrition Research Center on Aging at Tufts University in Boston suggest that consuming fruits and vegetables with a high-ORAC value may help slow the aging process in both body and brain. ORAC--short for Oxygen Radical Absorbance Capacity--measures the ability of foods, blood plasma, and just about any substance to subdue oxygen free radicals in the test tube.
Early evidence indicates that this antioxidant activity translates to animals, protecting cells and their components from oxidative damage. Getting plenty of the foods with a high-ORAC activity, such as spinach, strawberries, and blueberries, has so far:
- raised the antioxidant power of human blood,
- prevented some loss of long-term memory and learning ability in middle-aged rats,
- maintained the ability of brain cells in middle-aged rats to respond to a chemical stimulus, and
- protected rats' tiny blood vessels—capillaries—against oxygen damage.