ORAC – What is It?
ORAC is short for Oxygen Radical Absorbance Captivity is a measurement developed by the scientists at Tufts University located in Oklahoma. This group of scientists worked with the US Dept. of Agriculture to design a way of measuring how effective a particular food is at destroying free radicals. In other words, how good of an antioxidant is it.
The higher the ORAC value the better job it does at destroying free radicals, and therefore in slowing down the aging process and diseases or illnesses associated with that.
The US Department of Agriculture recommends you intake 5000 ORAC units a day to enjoy the most health benefits. For the most part, most of us receive 25% or less of the recommended units.
What are free radicals? Glad you asked. Free radicals result as part of the metabolic process and are a result of toxins that enter our body in one form or another. These free radicals damage healthy cells and organs, which can cause disease, illness, and wrinkles on our largest organ the skin. Free radicals can lead to diabetes, heart disease, and cancer.
Foods that have a high ORAC score have a high antioxidant level and antioxidants destroy free radicals. Another way to look at this – the higher the ORAC score the better the job it does in fighting cancer and heart disease.
It makes sense that you want to eat foods with the highest ORAC score. Fruits and vegetables have the highest ORAC score, especially dark ones. A handful of blueberries will giver you about 5000 ORAC while a piece of watermelon will only give you 50 ORAC.
The Acai Berry found in Brazil is believed to be one of the highest with 3800 ORAC per gram, making it much higher than blueberries. The Acai pulp if immediately processed into a powder, will maintain most of the ORAC value of the fresh berry. These supplements are readily available.
Let’s look at the top ten ORAC berries.
1. Acai 102,700
2. Sea Buckthorn 70,000
3. Goji (wolfberry) 30,300
4. Black Chokeberry 16,000
5. Black Raspberry 16,000
6. Muscadine Grape 15,000
7. Elderberry 12,000
8. Cranberry 9,500
9. Wild Blueberry 9,300
10. Blackberry 5,300
It is important to mention that the Sea Buckthorn and Goji berries also have phenolics and carotenoids giving them an extra bit of health benefit. Of course just their ORAC score is impressive but who would arguer with a little bit of a bonus.
Now that you know what ORAC is, and how to put it to use in your diet why wait. Why not start to enjoy the health benefits of these powerful antioxidants. Because ORAC is so new health foods displaying a ORAC value are not monitored at this time. There is a seal program in the works with government.
And the newest and most popular antioxidant for anti aging now is resveratrol. This polyphenol or red wine extract comes from a variety of foods including Japanese knotweed, red wine, red grape skin and others, and is now studied for its large variety of antioxidant, anti inflammatory, anti aging, cardioprotective, anti cancer and anti tumor effects.