ORAC- Oxygen Radical Absorption Capacity

ORAC- Oxygen Radical Absorption Capacity

Written By: Peter Kopko

A new method of measuring the antioxidant capacities of different foods was developed by scientists at the NIH . This method measures the oxidative degradation of a molecule that has been made to fluoresce after it has been mixed with free radical generators. In more simple terms, a food substance like a carrot has a special molecule added to it that has been engineered to glow. The amount of time and intensity that the molecule will glow is determined by how much and how fast it is damaged by adding a free radical. This is known as the decay curve , florescent intensity vs. time. The only thing that will slow down the destruction of the glowing molecule is if it is protected from the oxidative damage of the free radical by naturally occurring antioxidants in the food substance.

The longer the fluorescent molecule glows the more antioxidant present in the food substance. Correlation between the high antioxidant capacity of fruits and vegetables, and the positive impact of diets high in fruits and vegetables, is believed to play an important role in the free-radical theory of aging.

Quite an ingenious method. And what did they find? That certain spices, herbs, legumes and berries rated very highly.

Here is a partial list from the Department of Agriculture:

USDA data on foods with high levels of antioxidant phytochemicals

Food

Serving size

Antioxidant capacity
per serving size

Cinnamon , ground

100 grams

267,536

Aronia black chokeberry (Aronia melanocarpa )

100 grams

16062

Small Red Bean

½ cup dried beans

13727

Wild blueberry

1 cup

13427

Red kidney bean *

½ cup dried beans

13259

Pinto bean

½ cup

11864

Blueberry

1 cup (cultivated berries)

9019

Cranberry

1 cup (whole berries)

8983

Artichoke hearts

1 cup, cooked

7904

Blackberry

1 cup (cultivated berries)

7701

Prune

½ cup

7291

Raspberry

1 cup

6058

Strawberry

1 cup

5938

Red Delicious apple

1 apple

5900

Granny Smith apple

1 apple

5381

Pecan

1 oz

5095

Sweet cherry

1 cup

4873

Black plum

1 plum

4844

Russet potato

1, cooked

4649

Black bean

½ cup dried beans

4181

Plum

1 plum

4118

Gala apple

1 apple

3903

 

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