Polyphenols may help you manage your weight. But how does this work? You look up the ORAC value of the plant food. Then you simply eat foods high on the plant food’s ORAC value and low on its glycemic index. The standard index of finding out how much antioxidant value of any type of plant food (actually the organic compounds in the fruit or vegetable) is called the ORAC. The initials stand for the oxygen radical absorbance capacity. The glycemic index is a measure of how fast that food will turn to sugar in your bloodstream once you eat it.
Which is more important, the Glycemic Index or the ORAC value of a food when you’re trying to manage your weight? The USDA Human Nutrition Research Center on Aging at Tufts University developed the ORAC test. Can you manage or lose weight by measuring the ability of antioxidants to absorb free radicals? That depends on how large or small your portion size is, what time of day you eat, and the calories needed for energy to do your daily work.
To find out the antioxidant value of any fruit or vegetable, you look at its ORAC value. This is a test that only measures both the degree and speed with which a certain food inhibits those two measurements–the organic compounds in the plant food and the speed at which that food inhibits those measurements into a single value. That produces an accurate assessment of different types of antioxidants that have various strengths.
When you look at the ORAC value of any food, what to remember is that the ORAC value of that afood is proportional to its polyphenol content. So fruits or vegetables with a higher ORAC value also have richer color. And the higher the ORAC value and richer or deeper the color, the result for that fruit or vegetable is its ability to suppress free radicals better than fruits or vegetables lighter in color.
If you look at the recommendations from the US Dept. of Agriculture, the suggestions are to eat foods equivalent to 3,000 to 5,000 ORAC units daily. But is this number fine, or is it too low? As you can see, fruits, particularly some types of berries are much higher in ORAC value than vegetables, but fruits have more sugars.What Foods Are Highest in ORAC Value? (According to Life Extension Magazine, June 2010 issue, page 38.)
Food ORAC Value
Acai berries 18,400
Black Currant 1,160
Red Grapes 1,100
Broccoli flowers 900
Kiwi fruit 900
Red bell pepper 710
Grapefruit, pink 483
What Foods are Low on the Glycemic Index? Eating foods low on the glycemic index may prevent the sugar spikes that pour insulin into your blood, creating problems such as belly fat, metabolic syndrome, and too much insulin in the blood that’s not working properly to balance your sugar levels (blood glucose levels).
The glycemic index is about the quality of the carbohydrates, not the quantity. The measurement of the glycemic index of a food is not related to portion size. It remains the same whether you eat a tablespoon full of a particular food or a cup. To make a fair comparison, those who make up some of the tests of the glycemic indexes of food usually use 50 grams of available carbohydrate in each food.
What happens when you eat twice as many carbohydrates in a food that, for example, has a glycemic index of 50 than one that has a glycemic index of 100 and have the same blood glucose response? How do you manage your weight? You have to go with portion size and total calories. Actually, the Glycemic Index indirectly measures a food’s effect on blood sugar. It actually measured the “area under the blood sugar curve” following a set intake of that carb. Not all carbohydrate foods are created equal, in fact they behave quite differently in our bodies.
The glycemic index or GI describes this difference by ranking carbohydrates according to their effect on our blood glucose levels. Choosing low GI carbs – the ones that produce only small fluctuations in our blood glucose and insulin levels – is the secret to long-term health reducing your risk of heart disease and diabetes and is the key to sustainable weight loss. Check out the lists of foods that are low on the glycemic index at the Food & Diet in Diabetes website.
For example, peanuts registers a 14 on the Glycemic Index, which is low, whereas a baked potato registers 85, which is high. And ice cream is in the middle at 61 on the Glycemic Index. Look at a comparison chart of foods listed on the Glycemic Index at Glycemic Index – NutritionData.com.