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Nutritious Prunes are Highest on the ORAC Scale

Updated on November 25, 2011
dried plums/prunes
dried plums/prunes

Prunes and Foods High on the ORAC Scale

Remember Prunes? Those same prunes have recently been found to be the highest, by far, of all other whole fruits and vegetables on the Oxygen Radical Absorbance Capacity (ORAC) scale.* According to studies done by USDA researchers at Tufts University, foods that score high in the antioxidant analysis known as ORAC may protect cells and their components from oxidative damage. (see list of other foods, below)

How is testing done?

ORAC testing is done by a test tube analysis that measures the oxygen radical absorption capacity of different foods and natural substances.

What makes prunes so special?

Prunes have a high content of unique phytonutrients known as neochlorogenic and chlorogenic acid. These substances are classified as phenols and their benefits as antioxidants have been well documented. It is therefore suggested that eating plenty of high-ORAC fruits and vegetables may help to slow the processes associated with aging both in the brain and the body.

While we are told to have '5 fruits per day' - it depends on which 5 you choose to insure you are getting enough antioxidant benefits (the chart below lists recommended units and how much per food item).

Why is this research so important?

This research is important because cellular damage that can be done by free radicals affects our overall health and wellness. The damage that can be done by oxidation, caused by free radical activity, has been linked to nearly every aspect of aging, heart disease and certain types of cancer. The ORAC scale can be used to help insure that you are eating foods regularly that have the highest antioxidant benefits.

Aren't prunes and plums the same thing?

Prunes are a a dried version of plums and are scientifically known as 'Prunus domestica.' Unfortunately, there was a negative stereotype associated with prunes - that of the elderly suffering in hospitals and nursing homes, and prunes were always served. It seems nutritionist knew what they were doing when prunes were put on the menu. But big marketing did not like the image and have shied away from promoting prunes.

Fortunately, our mothers and grandmothers knew what they were doing when they served us prunes. How often I remember, eating and loving stewed prunes. Unfortunately, I soon turned to prune danishes.

Just how much of a difference can prunes and high-ORAC foods make in our diet?

In the research studies, eating plenty of high-ORAC foods have been shown to raise antioxidant power of human blood by 10 - 25 percent.

What about supplements?

This evidence has spurred a major jump in sales of antioxidant vitamins. In fact now many companies are listing the ORAC values on their labels. However, fresh foods are always recommended before supplements.

Are there other high-ORAC foods?

While no food as yet comes close to prunes on the ORAC scale there are still many fruits and vegetables that are quite high and may be preferable. Recommended are 5000 ORAC Units Daily. The following are top-scoring fruits and vegetables with ORAC unit ratings per 100 grams (3 1/2 ounces):


- prunes - 5770

- raisins - 2830

- blueberries - 2400

- blackberries - 2036

- strawberries - 1540

- oranges - 750

- red grapes - 739

- cherries - 670

- kiwi - 602

- pink grapefruit - 483


- kale - 1770

- spinach - 1260

- brussel sprouts - 980

- alfalfa sprouts - 930

- broccoli flowers - 890

- beets - 840

- red bell pepper - 710

- onion - 450

- eggplant - 390

As always, locally grown and organic is highly recommended.

For more healthy eating suggestions see the links below.

* The standardized ORAC test was invented by Dr. Guohua Cao, a physician and chemist at the National Institute on Aging in Baltimore Maryland. The test is adopted by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) to measure the Total Antioxidant Potency of certain foods and supplements. It offers a very precise way to determine the 'free radical' destroying or neutralizing power of a particular food, compound, or supplement.

Testing on foods continues and more may be added to the high-ORAC scale. Remember that many foods have antioxidant powers, the ones listed are the highest.

For more information on the Agricultural Research Services's Human Nutrition Research Center on Aging at Tufts University in Boston see the following link:

The Prune Poll

Which prune choice applies to you?

See results


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    • LetitiaFT profile image

      LetitiaFT 5 years ago from Paris via California

      That's fantastic news. Just linked to it in a recipe. Thanks for posting this.

    • BkCreative profile image

      BkCreative 6 years ago from Brooklyn, New York City

      So true Karen and I just picked up some the other day. And now that it is winter I am keeping them on hand so I can have my fruit servings.

      Thanks for writing.

    • profile image

      Karen 6 years ago

      Certidied Organic prunes are really yummy!

    • BkCreative profile image

      BkCreative 8 years ago from Brooklyn, New York City

      That's such a good way to put it Dolores Monet!

      Maybe if we thought of fruit this way we'd eat more. When I was in S. Korea the students loved cherry tomatoes - those little fruits were their idea of a snack.

    • Dolores Monet profile image

      Dolores Monet 8 years ago from East Coast, United States

      Honestly, eating a prune is like taking a vitamin that's disguised as a piece of candy - good for you and a real treat as well.

    • BkCreative profile image

      BkCreative 8 years ago from Brooklyn, New York City

      Ok then Veronica Allen - I will sit here today and work on one or two. Honestly, you do inspire me. I enjoy your hubs and enjoy that you enjoy mine!

      So glad you and babies are feeling better. I just sliced up the avocado and this time I sprinkled some hot sauce on it. I suspect there are a lot of diseases out there waiting for us - a population with weak immune systems!

    • Veronica Allen profile image

      Veronica Allen 8 years ago from Georgia

      Hi, BkCreative - For the first time in eight months my toddlers are sick - and so am I. So we just had some prunes this morning - thanks to your article - for their antioxidant benefits. I must say we are feeling better already! Can't wait to see what else you have in store for us fellow hubbers!

    • BkCreative profile image

      BkCreative 8 years ago from Brooklyn, New York City

      drpastorcarlotta - our moms were true nutritionist - they believed in every food for a purpose, everything in season, and food to heal you. Thanks so much for the compliment!

      Nice to meet you vannarith - and I have already checked out your hub and will now check out your blog!

    • vannarith profile image

      vannarith 8 years ago

      :) Wish you success


      Simply Need Traffic To This site

    • drpastorcarlotta profile image

      Pastor Dr. Carlotta Boles 8 years ago from BREAKOUT MINISTRIES, INC. KC

      My mom raised me up on prunes, WOW! Very informational. GREAT JOB!!!!!!! Blessings!!!

    • BkCreative profile image

      BkCreative 8 years ago from Brooklyn, New York City

      Hello Bryan - I guess we have to look for dried plums now. I loved stewed prunes when I was a child. I lapped them up!

    • profile image

      Bryan 8 years ago

      I can remember my grandmother giving us prunes as a kid. I liked them. Don't really know why I don't eat them now. Maybe I will start again.

    • Deltachord profile image

      Deltachord 8 years ago from United States

      Your welcome.

    • BkCreative profile image

      BkCreative 8 years ago from Brooklyn, New York City

      Hi Raggits!

      Prunes make the best pastry danishes - a natural sweetener! But it's probably not the best way to eat them. And such danishes are hard to find now - I guess it's that image thing.

      Good for you for being loyal to such a quality food. So many of us I think got side-tracked by the image - and then didn't know what dried plums were. Perhaps now they are advertised as 'dried plum danishes.'

    • profile image

      Raggits 8 years ago

      Great information, didn't know they were that affective. I still eat stewed prunes and love them as dried snacks too. Never thought to use them in a danish....!

    • BkCreative profile image

      BkCreative 8 years ago from Brooklyn, New York City

      Love hearing from you Deltachord!

      I have always enjoyed doing research because I not only learn so much but something serendipitous happens along the way. Always!

      When I first saw a box of dried plums I had no idea what they were - I was thinking 'aren't these prunes?'

      Thanks for writing!

    • Deltachord profile image

      Deltachord 8 years ago from United States

      Thanks for a well researched article and a well written one. I appreciate the fact that you care about the mechanics of writing.

      I agree with giantsteps about changing the image of prunes. I laughed, when I first saw them labeled as dried plums.

    • BkCreative profile image

      BkCreative 8 years ago from Brooklyn, New York City

      Exactly right giantsteps! They are dried plums now. I wonder now if there will be a major campaign to change the image - since prunes are such a powerhouse!

      Thanks for reading and commenting!

    • giantsteps profile image

      giantsteps 8 years ago

      I like prunes too. I think it's funny how some companies have started labeling them as dried plums to change their image.

    • BkCreative profile image

      BkCreative 8 years ago from Brooklyn, New York City

      Love prune cake Island Voice! And prune danishes. So many cultures use prunes, and beans, and different fruits to sweeten - which just has to be OK! You're welcome!

      I'm glad you found the information useful Veronica Allen! I love doing this research because not only do I learn from what I am seeking I find something else along the way. Thanks for bookmarking!

    • Veronica Allen profile image

      Veronica Allen 8 years ago from Georgia

      Than you sooooo much for this information. I'm always on the look out for fruits and veggies that are high in antioxidants for myself and my family. Thanks for sharing such detailed information. I'm bookmarking this page as a guide to look back on. I was very glad to know that some of the veggies and fruits listed high on the list are the ones I regularly serve my family. (blueberries and blackberries we literally eat every day) That might be why my toddlers rarely get sick. Great hub!

    • IslandVoice profile image

      Sylvia Van Velzer 8 years ago from Hawaii

      I like prunes, but don't eat it enough. I love prune cake, but it's probably not the best healthy way to have it. Mom said it was good for constipation, so she would make us drink it. Good to know the ORAC value. Thanks Bk.

    • BkCreative profile image

      BkCreative 8 years ago from Brooklyn, New York City

      Thanks Hello, hello!

      I love doing research. It has always been my thing. So glad I can share it on hub pages.

      Hope you post your prune crumble!

    • Hello, hello, profile image

      Hello, hello, 8 years ago from London, UK

      Thanks for a very good article and reminder. I will be doing a prune crumble with custard. I forgotten all about it. You certainly done your research.