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Oxygen Radical Absorbance Capacity (ORAC)

ORAC is a standardised test adopted by the U.S. Department of Agriculture to measure the Total Antioxidant Potency of foods and nutritional supplements. This standardised test was developed by Dr. Guohua Cao, a physician and chemist at the National Institute on Ageing in Baltimore, Maryland. It provides a very precise way of establishing the Free Radical destroying or neutralising power of a particular food, supplement or compound. The ORAC unit has become one accepted industry standard for measuring antioxidants. The antioxidant test combines a measure of both the time an antioxidant took to react and also its antioxidant capacity in a given sample. The ORAC unit then combines them into one measure, making it the first in vitro assay method for measuring total antioxidant potential. It is easily expressed as per 100 grams of sample.

 

 

The recommended daily antioxidant dose should add up to 5000 ORAC units each day. Looking at Table 1 below, it is clear that one has to be quite selective in the foods chosen so as to easily achieve this. If you at bananas alone, you would need to eat 2.4 kilograms of bananas to get your daily ORAC dose! You would however, only need to eat 87 grams of prunes. In a study of 36 older people, boosting fruit and vegetable intake to reach 3,200 ORAC units a day increased the antioxidant potential of the blood by 10 to 15%; enough to have an impact on disease prevention (Holly, 2003).

AIM Barleylife is as effective as the Chinese wolfberries as an antioxidant, with an ORAC value of 25,500! For anybody who could handle the smell, a drop of clove oil would give the required ORAC dose. There are however doubts as to whether ingesting clove oil (Syzigium aromaticum) is safe. Wolfberries (Lyceum barbarum) is a fruit from the Ningxia Province, China, where some people have lived to over 120 years.

 

Other products like ORAC Super 7 (above) claim that a Serving Size of 2 Tablespoons (30 ml) delivers 6,000 ORAC Units Per Serving. Good quality cocoa powder requires only 20 grams to deliver your 5000 ORAC units, so a kilogram should last 50 days.

ORAC is not the ultimate unit, however, as different antioxidants have different effects. Lycopene protects against prostate cancer and is found in tomatoes, strawberries and pink grapefruit. Lycopene is the predominate carotenoid in plasma, and various tissues including the prostate gland (Lucich, 2001). Research (ref.) has shown spinach to be more effective than strawberries (which score higher in the ORAC assay) when measured as blood antioxidant scores. The researchers conjecture that it may be due to specific compounds or a specific combination of them in the greens. Spinach caused the biggest change in a test between spinach, strawberries, and red wine (all high-ORAC foods) and 1,250 milligrams of vitamin C.

 Table 1. ORAC (Antioxidant) Units of Selected Fruits and Vegetables

  

  

  

 Food Source ORAC units of Ámol TE/100 grams (3.5 oz)

 

 

 

 Health Supplements

 ORAC Units

 Grams to supply RDA

Barley grass

 25,500

 20

Clove oil (Syzigium aromaticum)

10,786,875

 0.046

Ground cloves

314,446

 

 Thyme oil (Thymus vulgaris)

 159,590

 3.1

 Oregano oil (Origanum compactum)

 152,007

 3.3

 Aspalathox (rooibos tea extract, 20%)

 375,000

 1.3

 Vit C

 189,000

 2.6

 Vit E

 135,000

 3.7

 ORAC +

 74,600

 6.7

 Dark Chocolate

 13,120

 38.1

 Milk Chocolate

 6,740

 74.2

Cocoa powder

26,00080,933

<19.2

 Rooibos tea (200ml)

 750

 133

Blackstrap molasses (TE/100 g dry solids)

8860

56.4

See more on spices and herbs

 Fruits

 

 

Acai berry

26,000 plus

19.2

 Chinese Wolfberries

 25,300

 20

 Prunes (Dried plums)

 5,770–6,552

 <87

 Pomegranates

 3,307

 151

 Raisins

 2,830

 177

 Bilberry

 4,460

 112

 Blueberries

 2,400

 208

 Blackberries

 2,036

 246

 Strawberries

 1,540

 325

 Raspberries

 1,220

 410

 Black Raspberries

 7,700

 65

 Red Raspberries

 2,400

 208

 Plums

 949

 527

 Oranges

 750

 667

 Cherries

 670

 746

 Red grapes

 739

 677

 Pink grapefruit

 495

 1010

 White grapefruit

 460

 1087

 Apples

 218

 2294

 Banana

 210

 2381

 Pears

 134

 3731

 Watermelon

 100

 5000

 Vegetables

 

 

 Garlic

 1939

 

 Spinach

 1,770

 282

 Steamed spinach

 909

 550

 Yellow squash

 1,150

 435

 Brussels sprouts

 980

 510

 Alfalfa sprouts

 930

 538

 Broccoli

 880

 568

 Broccoli flowers

 890

 562

 Beets

 840

 595

 Avocado

 782

 639

 Red bell pepper

 710

 704

 Baked beans

 503

 994

 Onions

 450

 1111

 Corn

 400

 1250

 Peas, Frozen

 375

 1333

 Eggplant

 390

 1282

 Potato

 300

 1667

 Sweet Potato

 295

 1695

 Cabbage

 295

 1695

 Cauliflower

 385

 1299

 Carrot

 210

 2381

 Tomato

 195

 2564

 Cucumber

 60

 8333

Other essential oils are also strong antioxidants with a high ORAC value:

Sandalwood (Santalum Album)

 1,655

Roman Chamomile (Chamaemelum nobile)

2,446

Juniper (Juniperus osteosperma)

 2,517 

Rosemary (Rosmarinus officinalis)

 3,309

Lavender (Lavendula angustifolia)

 3,669

Spearmint (Mentha spicata)

 5,398

Helichrysum (Helichrysum italicum)

17,420 

Lemongrass (Cymbopogen flexuosus)

 17,765

Orange (Citrus aurantium)

18,898

Eucalyptus (Eucalyptus globulus)

24,157 

Rose of Sharon (Cistus ladanifer)

 38,648 

Cinnamon Bark (Cinnamamum verum)

 103,448

Mountain Savory (Satureja montana)

 113,071

Oregano (Origanum compactum)

153,007 

Thyme (Thymus vulgaris)

159,590 

Clove (Syzigium aromaticum)

 10,786,875 

Essential oils really potent antioxidants. A drop of Clove oil contains  400 times more antioxidant per unit volume than wolfberries, the most powerful of all know fruits.

For any ORAC score per 100 grams, calculate the ORAC score per gram, e.g. Clove oil is 10,786,875/100. Working on 5000 ORACs per day you then need 5000/107868 = 0.046 grams to deliver 5000 units! It is not advised to ingest clove oil; rather include cloves in tean and cooking. Also a mix of different ORAC delivering products is clearly better.

Other antioxidant measurement units

Three assays metnods for the determination of total antioxidant capacity are found in published literature: the oxygen radical absorbance capacity (ORAC) assay, the Randox Trolox-equivalent antioxidant capacity (Randox-TEAC) assay, and the ferric reducing ability (FRAP) assay (Cao & Pior, 2002). The FRAP assay is simple and inexpensive but does not measure the SH-group-containing antioxidants. The ORAC assay has high specificity and responds to numerous antioxidants. The ORAC method is chemically more relevant to chain-breaking antioxidants activity, while the FRAP has some drawbacks such as interference, reaction kinetics, and quantitation methods. On the basis of the ORAC results, green pepper, spinach, purple onion, broccoli, beet, and cauliflower are the leading sources of antioxidant activities against the peroxyl radicals (Ou et al, 2002).

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This information has not  been evaluated by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. These products  are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease. (Refer to Disclaimer)
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