ORAC and The Best Antioxidant Foods to Eat
You may see some food packages reference ORAC values when talking about the antioxidant value of food. While there is some disagreement over these ratings, it is the best method today to determine antioxidant value for foods. Most food experts tell the consumer to only use it a reference and not to use it to choose foods to eat. In fact, the value scores of a ORAC test does not mean if a food is healthy or not. The issue is that just because a food is high in antioxidants, does not mean it can be absorbed by your body.
Antioxidants help protect your cells from free radicals that cause damage, such as , heart disease, aging and cancer. The ORAC (Oxygen Radical Absorbance Capacity) test is used to determine how effective food is in slowing down these "free radicals". The test uses a fluorescent dye to measure this. This test was created and validated in 2007 by the USDA.
Many food companies are now using the ORAC score to promote sales, as if the ORAC score is 100% accurate and the last word. The USDA totally disagrees with this and has removed the food ORAC ratings from its website.
For example, while blueberries are among the highest in antioxidant values- 9,000 in one cup, the berries also contain anthocyanins that are not usually well absorbed by the body. In any case, the ORAC ratings give the consumer a "ballpark" idea about the food values in antioxidants. Below is a partial sample:
- One cup of cultivated blueberries - 9,019
- One cup of wild blueberries - 13,427
- One red apple - 5,900
- Half cup of raw broccoli - 700
- Half cup of dried red kidney beans - 13, 727
- One oatmeal raisin cookie - 619
- One ounce of pecans - 5,095