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A Primer on ORAC Value!

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Understanding and learning how to apply the ORAC value of foods is one of the most effective tools you can use to slow down the aging process and help your body prevent degenerative diseases.  There are several key factors that cause our body to age.  Free radical damage is one of them.  Not only does it cause us to age prematurely but it’s also a leading contributor to inflammation and the development of degenerative diseases. 

Just the vary act of respiration and the body’s ability to produce energy creates free radicals.  Add environmental factors, cooking techniques, and unhealthy habits like smoking and your body is bombarded every second by thousands of unstable molecules called free radicals. 

To become stable each free radical will steal an electron from another atom or molecule resulting in a new free radical that repeats the process.  Eventually, this chain reaction ends when free radicals steal their electrons from your body’s cells causing cellular damage.  Over time this results in or greatly contributes to the development of most diseases.

Antioxidants are one of the keys to stopping free radical damage.  They are molecules that freely give away an electron and remain stable after they do so.  This effectively stops the chain reaction and spares your body’s cells from potential damage. 

What are ORAC and ORAC Value?
ORAC is an acronym for Oxygen Radical Absorbance Capacity.  That’s just a fancy way of measuring how effective a food is in delivering much needed antioxidants to help your body fight free radical damage. 

The ORAC Value is the number assigned to a food to represent its ability to provide antioxidants.  The higher the ORAC value the greater the number of antioxidants that food can provide.  Currently, the United States Department of Agriculture recommends a diet of fruits and vegetables that will allow you to consume between 3,000 to 5,000 ORAC units per day.  This will help you maintain an optimal level of antioxidant protection.

Fruits and vegetables are powerful sources of antioxidants.  It’s why nutritionists want us to eat 5-8 servings per day.  Sounds like a healthy and important goal but for the vast majority of people it’s impractical.  Either their eating habits don’t allow for it or their pocketbook can’t absorb the cost of 5-8 servings of fruits and vegetables per day. 

Learning how to use and apply the information contained in an ORAC Rating Table that lists the ORAC value of foods can be a powerful tool.  It will help you decrease the number of servings while still getting the recommended level of antioxidants to protect yourself from free radicals.  There are several ORAC tables to choose from.  Because of its simplicity I like to use the following table:

Fruits

ORAC Value*

 

Vegetables

ORAC Value*

Acai Berry

18,500

 

Kale

1,770

Prunes

5,770

 

Spinach, raw

1,260

Raisins

2,830

 

Brussel Sprouts

980

Blueberries

2,400

 

Alfalfa Sprouts

930

Blackberries

2,036

 

Spinach, steamed

909

Cranberries

1,750

 

Broccoli Florets

890

Strawberries

1,540

 

Beets

841

Pomegranates

1,245

 

Red Bell Pepper

713

Raspberries

1,220

 

Onion

450

Plums

949

 

Corn

400

Oranges

750

 

Eggplant

390

Red Grapes

739

 

Cauliflower

377

Cherries

670

 

Peas, frozen

364

Kiwifruit

602

 

White Potatoes

313

White Grapes

442

 

Sweet Potatoes

301

Cantaloupe

252

 

Carrots

207

Banana

221

 

String Beans

201

Apple

218

 

Tomatoes

189

Apricots

164

 

Zucchini

176

Peach

158

 

Yellow Squash

150

*ORAC value per 100 grams (approximately 3.5 ounces)

Because growing conditions and the quality of produce varies you will find ORAC values that may differ from the above table.  However, this ORAC Rating Table illustrates four important keys in helping you understand how the ORAC value of food can protect your body.

First, fruits typically have greater ORAC values than vegetables.  If you used 900 as a cut off value to reduce your number of servings to achieve the recommended 3000 ORAC units, the fruit side has 10 different possibilities while the vegetable side only has 5.

Second, the Brazilian Açai berry from South America has been touted by many sources as the number one super food.  As you can see by its ORAC value, it is 3 times greater than the nearest fruit (prunes) and 10 times greater than the nearest vegetable (kale).  This means that a small concentrated amount of acai will go a long way in fighting free radical damage.

Third, in general the deeper the pigment of the fruit or vegetable, the higher its ORAC rating! 

Forth, increasing your consumption of the high ORAC-value fruits and vegetables will allow you to reduce the number of servings you will need to protect yourself from free radical damage.  For example, if I wanted to get 3,000 ORAC units into my body, I would need to consume 16 tomatoes versus a little more than a half of cup of blueberries or 1 cup of strawberries.

By learning how to use this ORAC rating table you can effectively reduce the number of servings of fruits and vegetables per day.  You can also substantially increase the number of antioxidants which provides greater protection from free radical damage.

I used this table to design two great meals that are now a part of my diet.   The YouTube video entitled “The ORAC Shake” shows how I made a delicious and nutritious fruit smoothie that provides 4,000 ORAC units all in one serving.  I also used this table to combine fruits and vegetables into a powerful and delicious lunch or dinner salad that provides 4,000 ORAC units all in one serving.  Click on “The ORAC Salad” to view this YouTube video!

To give you an idea how nutritionally dense and powerful this can be here is the nutritional profile of the ORAC salad just from the spinach, blueberries, and strawberries:

Vitamin A

295%*

 

Calcium

24%*

Vitamin B1

12%

 

Copper

17%

Vitamin B2

29%

 

Iodine

7%

Vitamin B3

5%

 

Iron

35%

Vitamin B5

4%

 

Magnesium

41%

Vitamin B6

25%

 

Manganese

107%

Folate

71%

 

Phosphorus

10%

Vitamin C

142%

 

Potassium

28%

Vitamin E

10%

 

Selenium

3%

Vitamin K

1113%

 

Zinc

8%

Protein

9%

 

Tryptophan

22%

Dietary Fiber

31%

 

Omega 3 Fatty Acids

10%

 

 

 

Total Calories

100

*% Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet.  Your daily values may be higher or lower depending on your calorie needs.

Other ORAC Sources
Another source for a comprehensive listing of foods and their antioxidant levels is ORACValues.com.  This website allows you to browse foods alphabetically to find their ORAC value or you can view them by sorting from highest to lowest value. 

The National Food and Nutrient Analysis Program has also published a PDF of 59 individual fruits, nuts, and vegetables.  Please click on “PDF LINK” to view their data base.

As you can see by these additional data bases the ORAC value can change depending upon the method used as well as the growing conditions of the fruit or vegetable at the time of testing.  It is why I prefer the first table. Click here to easily download to your computer and/or print off.

Conclusion
Learning how to incorporate high ORAC value fruits and vegetables into your daily diet is a powerful tool to improve your overall health and wellness.  In addition to the needed antioxidants they provide, the higher the ORAC value of the food the more nutritionally dense it is.  This saves you calories while providing your body with the nutritional building blocks it requires to function optimally.  Thus ORAC can be a powerful weight management tool while helping sustain your energy levels over a long period of time. 

What a great way to lose weight, slow down the aging process and protect yourself from degenerative diseases! 

Until next time, may we both age youthfully!

Synergistically yours,
emilia

P.S.   As a convenience, I’ve also included links to the ORAC videos and articles below:

The Power of ORAC!  (Video)

The ORAC Shake!  (Video)

The ORAC Salad!  (Video)

The ORAC Rating Table!

A Primer on Brazilian Açai Health Benefits and Nutrition!

A Primer on Spinach Nutrition!

A Primer on Blueberry Nutrition

A Primer on Strawberry Nutrition

An ORAC Smoothie Can Energize Your Body!

 

Return from ORAC Value to ORAC

Return from ORAC Value to Aging No More (Home Page)

 

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The information contained in this website and posted articles are for general information purposes only and never as a substitute for professional medical advice or medical exam. The information contained in this website and posted articles has not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration and should not be used to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease without the supervision of a qualified medical doctor.

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