What is ORAC score?
ORAC score, or Oxygen Radical Absorbency Capacity, is a number that indicates the level of antioxidants in food. It can be calculated for any given food and the score is obtained through analysis of certain properties of that food.
High ORAC indicates high antioxidant properties of food. The consumption of foods with high ORAC score is very important, as it reduces the risk of cancer, degenerative diseases, aging and many other health issues.
Free radicals or oxygen radicals are created by natural cellular energy processing. They come from pollution, sunlight, even digestion and exercise. Most of them are eliminated from the body through waste elimination systems, but some of them are left behind. Because they are highly reactive, free radicals can cause damage on the cell level or on DNA, causing diseases.
Eating foods high in antioxidants is important because antioxidants destroy the free radicals that are left behind, not eliminated from the body.
It is highly recommended to include large amounts of foods with high ORAC score in the daily diet, so the antioxidants can do their job and protect the body from oxidative stress. This is especially recommended for those who have been exposed to pollution or who spend a lot of time in the sun.
Foods with high ORAC score
Ideally, everyone should have at least 1,750 ORAC units per day. This is necessary for normal functioning of the body. However, it is recommended to have more, about 5000 units per day, because that amount increases the level of antioxidants in the blood by 25 percent.
A large cup of blueberries provides 6000 ORAC units, which is plenty. On the other hand, an average serving of watermelon only provides 60 units.
Dark colored fruit and vegetables usually have high ORAC score. This includes blackberries, blueberries, eggplant and dark green leafy vegetables. Black beans, pecans and cinnamon are also good. Dark chocolate with high cocoa content is also highly recommended, since baking cocoa has an ORAC score of 1032.
The highest ORAC score in foods available in nature is found in acai berry. This wild Brazilian berry has an ORAC of 3800 per gram, which is amazing. The problem is, this berry only grows in Brazil, which makes it expensive and not very available.
Acai pulp, processed right after harvesting, is used for manufacturing different supplements, from juice to capsules, and those products still have a relatively high ORAC score, although much lower than the actual, fresh acai berry.