The ORAC Score

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



Govind | whatsapp 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.

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