The Benefits of Eating Foods with High ORAC Scores
Free radicals are damaging chemicals formed by natural cellular energy processing. If your body has a lot of free radical activity, it may not be able to eliminate all of them, so it’s a good idea to ramp up your consumption of high ORAC foods.
An Oxygen Radical Absorbency Capacity, or ORAC, score is derived from an analysis of any given food and reflects the level of antioxidants in that food. The higher the score, the more powerful the food is as an antioxidant. High ORAC foods are critical for your health, as they help eliminate free radicals that contribute to or cause cancer, aging, heart disease, and other diseases and conditions.
Free radicals, or oxygen radicals, are chemicals formed by natural cellular energy processing, and most are carried away as waste by your body and either excreted or recycled. Exercise creates free radicals; sunlight, pollution, and even digestion also create free radicals. These chemicals are highly reactive, and recent studies indicate that they can damage DNA or cellular structures, causing disease as well as the sort of damage that results in cancer. Normally, these free radicals are eliminated by normal processes in the body. But if you’ve had a lot of free radical activity, your body may not be able to eliminate all of them. In cases like this, it’s a good idea to ramp up your consumption of high ORAC foods.
For most people, eating a diet that adheres to the USDA food pyramid will get you an adequate supply of high ORAC foods, especially if you focus on eating a rainbow of fruits and vegetables and especially the dark-colored ones. But if you work out a lot, or if you’ve had a lot of sun or have been sick, boosting your ORAC is probably a good idea.
Ideally, you should have a minimum of 1,750 ORAC units daily.
A big handful of blueberries will give you about 6000 ORAC units, while a serving of watermelon only has about 60. By eating a diet with a minimum of 5000 ORAC units per day, you can increase your blood plasma level of antioxidants by more than 25%. (Because this area of nutrition is a developing science, the most ORAC you should eat daily is not yet known – but because you do need some free radicals in your body, it may be possible to overdose. Use good judgment.)
Some foods with high ORAC scores include dark colored fruits and vegetables like eggplant and blueberry, and other foods like ground cinnamon, pecans, and black beans. Dark chocolate is also extremely good; baking cocoa has an ORAC of 1032 units.
Possibly the highest ORAC found in nature is the acai berry, which grows wild in Brazil. This berry has an ORAC of 3800 per gram, which is many times as high as a blueberry. But the acai is only grown in Brazil, which limits the quantity and availability of the berry.
Manufacturers of many supplements have found that the acai pulp, when processed immediately after picking, will form a powder that retains most of the ORAC value, and they’ve been using these berries in high ORAC health supplements. This is a good idea when it is carried out properly. To properly take advantage of the acai’s properties, you’ll need to find a supplement with at least a gram of acai per dose.
Because the ORAC value is a new concept in health, foods advertising high ORAC are not monitored or independently tested. Organizations and government agencies are working on ways to create a seal of approval for claimed high ORAC content, but so far this is still in process.
Michael Rupkalvis runs the LifeFormulas website, which offers a unique blog about his day-to-day activities with ITV Ventures and their many health-related products. Amongst the products he sells through that business is Figo Juice, which is a powerful acai berry based juice that holds a very high ORAC score, includes a large number of antioxidants and offers numerous other nutrients.
|By Michael Rupkalvis
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Antixoidants are also found in meat, though we highlight the healthier meats, and those foods high in antioxidant vitamins. Pareuse the list, and you’ll find foods from chocolate to tuna and a lot in between! … red wine, water, and green tea; avocado, broccoli, onions, peppers, soy, spinach, and sprouts, hot peppers, leeks and daikon radishes; açai, apples, blueberries, pomegranates, pumpkin, kiwi, oranges,and tomatoes; wild salmon, turkey, eggs; beans, barley, seeds.