The ORAC Score
The ORAC unit (Oxygen Radical Absorbance Capacity), ORAC value, or ORAC score is a method developed by scientists at the National Institute of Health and Aging (NIH) to measures the antioxidant capacity of different foods. Whilst the exact relationship between the ORAC value of a food and its health benefit has not been fully established, it is generally believed that foods with higher ORAC scores have greater antioxidant capacity, and more effectively neutralise harmful free radicals.
According to the free-radical theory of ageing and disease, a high antioxidant intake from foods, will slow the oxidative processes and free radical damage that contributes to age-related degeneration and disease.
Many many units do you need?
Scientists and researchers in the area of ORAC and antioxidants state that the body can effectively use 3000-5000 antioxidant or ORAC units per day. Any more than this (i.e. with mega-dosing in supplement form) seems to be of no added benefit and “excess” is most likely excreted by the kidneys.
A significant increase in antioxidants of 15-20% is possible by increasing consumption of fruits and vegetables, particularly those high in ORAC value. However, in order to have a significant impact on plasma and tissue antioxidant capacity one can only meaningfully increase one’s daily intake by 3000-5000 ORAC units. Any greater amount is probably redundant. That is because the antioxidant capacity of the blood is tightly regulated. Thus there is an upper limit to the benefit that can be derived from antioxidants. Taking in 25000 ORAC units at one time (as reputedly occurs with mangosteen) would be no more beneficial than taking in a fifth of that amount: the excess is simply excreted by the kidneys.
Whilst there is no “official” daily recommended intake of ORAC units, various researchers suggest an optimal intake to be 3000-5000 ORAC units per day, and the USDA have come up with a suggested intake of 5000 ORAC units per day. The UK FSA, and the FDA recommend “5 a day” of fruit and vegetable servings, which give an approximate ORAC score of 3500.
ORAC values of some common foods per 100g food
Peppermint, fresh 13978
Oregano, fresh 13970
Nuts, walnuts, English 13541
Nuts, hazelnuts 9645
Cranberries, raw 9584
Beans, kidney, red, mature seeds, raw 8459
Beans, black, mature seeds, raw 8040
Nuts, pistachio nuts, raw 7983
Beans, pinto, mature seeds, raw 7779
Lentils, raw 7282
Raspberries, raw 4882
Basil, fresh 4805
Nuts, almonds 4454
Apples, Red Delicious, raw with skin 4275
Peaches, dried to 40% moisture (purchased in Italy) 4222
Raisins, white, dried to 40% moisture (purchased in Italy) 4188
Apples, Granny Smith, raw, with skin 3898
Figs, raw 3383
Cherries, sweet, raw 3365
Gooseberries, raw 3277
Apricots, dried to 40% moisture (purchased in Italy) 3234
Peanuts, all types, raw 3166
Cabbage, red, cooked, boiled, drained, without salt 3145
Broccoli, raw 3083
Apples, raw, with skin 3082
The World’s Top 10 High ORAC foods per 100g
Per 100g food…
Spices, cloves, ground 314446
Sumac, bran, raw 312400
Spices, cinnamon, ground 267536
Sorghum, bran, hi-tannin 240000
Spices, oregano, dried 200129
Spices, turmeric, ground 159277
Acai berry, freeze-dried 102700
Sorghum, bran, black 100800
Sumac, grain, raw 86800
Cocoa, dry powder, unsweetened 80933
FROM AWARD-WINNING AUTHOR DR GOVIND SHUKLA, NUTRITION EXPERT
email@example.com | 8756536895
Govind Shukla, Specializes in Pharmacology, Toxicology, Nutraceuticals & Herbal Drugs has published More than 100 research papers in National & International Journals. He is also a reviewer of International Journal of Pharmacology & pharmacotherapeutics, Chief editor of IJPNR Journal & Freelance Medical Writer for Different publication Groups including Lambert Academic Publishing Saarbrucken, Germany.