ORAC, which stands for Oxygen Radical Absorbance Capacity, is an international testing guideline which measures the total antioxidant power of foods.
Many studies—most notably one by the Agricultural Research Service’s Human Nutrition Research Centre on Aging USA— has concluded that foods that score high in ORAC may protect cells from oxidative damage.
The Agricultural Research Service’s administrator, Floyd Horn, stated that people may be able to reduce their risk of disease by simply adding high ORAC foods into their diets. The study found that eating plenty of high ORAC foods raised the antioxidant power of human blood by 10 to 25 per cent!
Top-scoring fruits (in order of ORAC content) include: Goji berries, prunes, raisins, blueberries, blackberries, strawberries, raspberries, plums, oranges, red grapes, whilst top scoring vegetables include: Kale, spinach, Brussels sprouts, alfalfa sprouts, broccoli flowers, beets, red bell pepper, onion, corn.
The USDA recommends Americans consume 3,000 to 5,000 units of ORAC daily; however, studies show that the average person consumes only 1,200 ORAC units daily.
To accomplish the recommended ORAC intake each day, the USDA recommends 3 to 5 servings of fruit per day and 2 to 4 servings of vegetables per day. However, even consuming these quantities of fruits and vegetables may not be enough: Over-processing of most of the foods and aggressive farming practices (chemicals), deplete the nutrient levels of the soil and the food grown in it, even fruit and vegetable aficionados are often times taking in inadequate ORAC levels.
This means that even the health-conscious ORAC consumer would be wise to consider complimenting his or her diet with a high-ORAC supplement, so when choosing a supplement for its ORAC value, consumers need to not only check the ORAC value on the label, but also where the ORAC value is coming from.
Moreover, since the establishment of the ORAC values system was based on the testing of real fruits and vegetables, it is faulty science to maintain that a synthetic material has the same benefit as a natural food, hence, the best high- ORAC supplements would list only real foods on the ingredient list whose natural, high-ORAC nutrients are easily absorbed and used by the body.