Alright students, you’ve made it through biology 101, mastered the life and times of antioxidants and free radicals (and perhaps learned a little about the latest hip hop rivalry), but now its time to talk math, or specifically, how to measure the value of antioxidant-rich foods.
One method of measuring antioxidant capacity is the Oxygen Radical Absorbance Capacity (ORAC). Developed by the Baltimore-based National Institute of Aging, the calculation specifically measures the oxidative degradation of fluorescein (the stuff that the hotties on C.S.I. spray to detect the presence of blood, though not in this case) as it reacts with an agent called peroxyl radical (a free radical). Seem easy enough? Nice try. The reaction between the antioxidant and the free radical is then measured at 35 minute intervals to create a graphic curve that is then used as the basis for trolox equivalents (TE), or, in non-geek terms, the measure of a compounds potential for absorbing free radicals.