ORAC: Antioxidant Ranking System

Earlier this week I discussed antioxidants. While you’re scavenging the web for information on them, you may come across ORAC, so I thought I’d be nice (Merry Christmas) and share with you what it is. It stands for Oxygen Radical Absorbance Capacity. It’s the method the U.S. Department of Agriculture uses to measure the antioxidant capacities. The general idea, is the higher the number, the greater the ability to destroy free radicals. There are different factors figured in:

  • additive content of water or fat
  • temperature
  • harvesting process and age
  • storage process
  • medium of the item

They recommend getting 3000-5000 ORAC units per day. Certain spices and berries tend to score well, as does cacao (not chocolate like a Snickers, but the unprocessed unsweetened stuff).  Here are some numbers:

  •  Blueberry= 2400
  •  Blackberry= 2036
  • Cranberry= 1730
  • Strawberry= 1340
  • Raspberry= 1220
  • Plum= 949
  • Orange= 750
  • Red Grapes= 739
  • Kiwi= 602
  • Kale= 1770
  • Spinach= 1260
  • Brussels Sprouts= 980
  • Steammed Spinach= 909
  • Broccoli= 890
  • Beets= 841
  • Red Bell Pepper= 713
  • Onion= 450
  • Cauliflower= 377
  • Carrots= 207

Would I base opinion solely on this? No, clearly there are some good choices here and these foods have shown antioxidant powers in different studies but there are some questionable items on the list and you’ll see branding were they’ll hype up ORAC rating (especially when it comes to Acai berries). There are some downfalls. Most of these test are done using test tubes and such, so there’s no guarantee that these foods will react this way biologically once they’re ingested. I think it’s interesting, but there probably needs to be more research before people get carried away looking for ORAC labeled foods.

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