Antioxidants And Oxygen Radical Absorbance Capacity (ORAC) – Supplements And Foods

All About Antioxidants

Oxygen Radical Absorbance Capacity (ORAC) is the antioxidant capability or strength of food. The method of measurement was developed by the National Institute of Aging in Maryland. Since then, it has become a very popular for rating antioxidant supplements.

My name is Spencer and I am a wellness consulant who helps people to find the very best, high quality supplements. (Actually, I show people how to get their supplements free or even get paid to eat them.) I work with hundreds of clients by phone, but in this article, I will discuss antioxidants, foods, supplements and the little known problem with using the ORAC rating system.

Antioxidants are chemicals that reduce the rate of oxidation in a particular context, and they play an important role in cell metabolism, acting as substrates for enzymes including peroxidases and oxidoreductases. Antioxidants form part of complex systems within the cells of all living organisms, and act to prevent chemical damage to cell components which would be caused by oxidation.

The Food and Drug Administration in the United States has recently recommended that people increase their consumption of antioxidants via high-ORAC foods. This was done in the hope of contributing to the overall health of the population.

Foods with high ORAC scores include acai, Montmorency tart cherries, prunes, raisins, blueberries, kale, spinach and cocoa. The highest ORAC scores are for foods such as black raspberries, pomegranates and wild blueberries.

Fresh fruits generally score between 500 and 900 ORAC units per 100 grams.

The United States Department of Agriculture published an updated list of the ORAC scores of over 100 common foods, including fruits, vegetables, spices, nuts, seeds, grains and so on, in 2004.

The scores were reported as micromoles of Trolex equivalents (TE, which is a vitamin E derivative) per gram both for lipid soluble, or lipiphilic, and water soluble, hydrophilic, antioxidants in foods. These scores were thus a measure of the total ORAC in the individual foods. This method was widely considered to be more accurate than the previously documented one because lipophilic values were included.

Studies have shown that all plants contain various amounts of both lipophilic and hydrophilic antioxidant phytochemicals.

ORAC scores range from 140 TE per 100 grams for the watermelon to 1800 TE per 100 grams for the orange. For vegetables, scores lay between those obtained by the cucumber (115 TE) and the red kidney bean (14400). The nuts ranged between 2000 TE (cashew) and 17940 (pecan). Dried fruits had scores between 3037 (raisin) to 8578 (prune).

Spices such as clove and cinnamon had the highest ORAC values, at over 250,000 TE per 100 grams.

Commonly eaten foods scored as follows:

– apple (4275 TE per 100 grams);

– white potato (under 1100 TE per 100 grams);

– peanut (3166 TE per 100 grams); and

– tomato (400 TE per 100 grams).

Cocoa has a high value, giving dark chocolate a score of 13120 TE and white chocolate a score of 6740 TE per 100 grams.

In the Discovery of the Ultimate Superfood book, Young, Lawrence and Schreuder report the ORAC value of dried wolfberry as 30,300. This value is surpassed only by unverified marketing claims that acai contains 34,000 TE per 100 grams. There is an increasing trend for health food companies to use ORAC values in their marketing, although it is not certain that concentrated antioxidants are absorbed as easily by the body as antioxidants found in natural foods.

The little known problem with using the ORAC rating system….

Where does the rubber meet the road? Where it really matters is the antioxidant level and effect in the blood. ORAC rating is only good to such a point. It doesnt really tell us the amount of effect in the body. There is a research and development company that manufactures high quality supplements for optimal health from the cellular level up. This company has recently developed a way for the first time, to not only test antioxidants for the water soluble effect but fat soluble as well. Their discoveries have resulted in their antioxidant being shown in an independent study showing an antioxidant supplement that is many times more effective than the leading antioxidant products on the global market.