The ORAC scale measures the Oxygen Radical Absorbance Capacity in different foods. Free radicals are produced during normal metabolism and cell function, as well as from stress and pollutants in our air, water and food. The oxidative stress caused by these free radicals is implicated in everything from the aging and wrinkling of skin to DNA damage, diabetes, cancer and heart disease.
Antioxidants offer powerful, effective protection against this oxidative stress by blunting the damaging effects of free radicals. Foods higher on the ORAC scale effectively help to neutralise free radicals, slowing the damage caused by the oxidative process that can contribute to age-related degeneration and disease. Using the ORAC scale will help guide your food choices for a healthy diet—print out the Sans [ceuticals] ORAC Scale for reference while shopping.
The foods that score high on the ORAC scale are berries such as blueberries, raspberries and blackberries; fruits such as apples, pears, gooseberries and figs; and citrus. Grapes and grape juice are also high in antioxidants, with a value around 1,000.
Vegetables with a high ORAC value are onions, broccoli, artichokes, eggplant and asparagus. Along with their range of antioxidants, some of the essential nutrients in fruits and vegetables are potassium, vitamin C, vitamin A and dietary fibre.
Many herbs and spices have a high ORAC value for their weight. Garlic, peppermint, thyme, oregano and basil have a high antioxidant capacity, with values of more than 10,000 in 100g—although you’d rarely eat that much. Other spices, with values around 20,000, include black pepper, ginger, cinnamon, curry powder, cumin and paprika.
Whole grains, which contain the bran, germ and endosperm components of the entire grain, such as oatmeal and whole–grain bread, have a high ORAC value. Potatoes and sweet potatoes are other starchy foods with a high ORAC value of around 1,000. These are also rich in fibre, potassium and vitamin A or vitamin C.
The ORAC value of peanuts and nuts, including almonds, pecans, walnuts and pistachios, is around 3,000 to 5,000. Lentils, beans and peas are low-fat, high-protein sources of antioxidants, with values around 7,000 per 100g. Black and green tea also score high on the ORAC scale, and unsweetened dark chocolate is another high-antioxidant food, with a value near 5,000 per 100g.
ORAC Value Chart of the Top 50 High Antioxidant Foods
|Sumac Bran (Raw)||312,400|
|Sorghum Bran (High-tannin)||240,000|
|Vanilla Beans (Dried)||122,400|
|Szechuan Pepper (Dried)||118,400|
|Açaí (Fruit Pulp/Skin Powder)||102,700|
|Sorghum Bran (Black)||100,800|
|Sumac Grain (Raw)||86,800|
|Sorghum Bran (Red)||71,000|
|Cocoa (Dry Unsweetened)||55,653|
|Sorghum Grain (High-tannin)||45,400|
|Chocolate (Dutch–processed Powder)||40,200|
|Mustard Seed (Yellow)||29,257|
|Rice Bran (Crude)||24,287|
|Sorghum Grain (Black)||21,900|
|Pepper (Red or Cayenne)||19,671|
|Ginger Root (Raw)||14,840|
|Sorghum Grain (Red)||14,000|
|Raspberry Juice (Black)||10,460|
|Raisins (Golden Seedless)||10,450|