What are ORAC Units?
Units that measure the antioxidant capacity of different substances are called ORAC. ORAC stands for Oxygen Radical Absorbance Capacity. It’s a lab test developed by scientists at the National Institute of Health and Aging (NIH).
The first database of ORAC values was released by USDA in 2007 and it covered 277 food items. Then in 2010, the research was published that took 8 years to complete and included the antioxidative value of 3149 food items (The total antioxidant content of more than 3100 foods, beverages, spices, herbs and supplements used worldwide. doi: 10.1186/1475-2891-9-3).
Today the entire database of ORAC values has been removed from the USDA website.
Because there is no “official” daily recommended intake of ORAC units, you will see various researchers suggest an optimal intake to be only 3000-5000 ORAC units per day, and many of the physicians will not recommend antioxidant-rich diets at all.
Even the USDA has come up with a suggested intake of 5000 ORAC units per day. The UK FSA and the FDA recommend “5 a day” of fruit and vegetable servings, which give an approximate ORAC score of 3500. It all just a joke and even worse, deliberate conspiracy.
Units represented here are just medium values of different lab tests and are not to be taken as face value. These measurements can vary depending on different conditions. Even the same food type can have several times different values in ORAC potency depending on the different parameters. For example, the time a sample has been left exposed to air before testing, the type of processing, the manufacturing process itself, and a whole range of other different parameters. Also, these measurements are taken in vitro and there is a question of bioavailability of some of the antioxidants and their absorption rate.
Read more about the importance and optimal antioxidant intake in the Go Vegan? Review of Science Part 3. Here I have compiled a list of once available ORAC values that you can download as an additional resource for the book series.
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