ORAC: ANTIOXIDANT LEVELS IN FOODS
Oxygen Radical Absorbance Capacity (ORAC) is a method of measuring antioxidant capacities of different foods. It was developed at the National Institute on Aging in Baltimore, Maryland. High scoring foods include Acai, Cerasus (Montmorency tart cherries) prunes, raisins, blueberries, kale, spinach, spices and cocoa. Foods with moderately high ORAC values include wild blueberries, pomegranates and black raspberries.
The assay measures the oxidative degradation of fluorescein after being mixed with a peroxyl radical. The reaction alone is compared to the reaction in the presence of a standard antioxidant (trolox, a vitamin E analogue) and the antioxidant sample being tested. A graph of the kinetic curve (time vs. fluorescein intensity) is generated and the area under the curve is calculated. Different concentrations of trolox are measured to make a standard curve, and test samples are compared to this. Final results for test samples are published as "trolox equivalents" or TE (Huang et al., 2005). Using the ORAC method is especially beneficial when measuring foods and supplements that contain complex ingredients with various slow and fast acting antioxidants, as well as ingredients with combined effects that cannot be pre-calculated.
In 2004, scientists with the US Department of Agriculture (References, Wu et al.) published an updated list of ORAC values for over 100 common foods that are commonly consumed by the U.S. population (fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds, spices, grains, etc.). The values are considered to be more accurate than previously published ORAC numbers because lipophilic values were being included for the first time. The data of Wu et al. showed that all plants have variable amounts of both lipophilic and hydrophilic phytochemicals with antioxidant properties contributing to total ORAC. The range of ORAC for common fruits was around 1.40 micromol TE per gram (watermelon) to 95 (cranberry). Lowbush blueberry was also very high at 92.6. For vegetables or legumes, it was 1.15 (cucumber) to 149 small red (red kidney bean); for nuts, 7.19 (cashew) to 179.4 (pecan); and for dried fruits, 23.87 (medjool dates) to 85.78 (prune). By comparison, different species of apples had ORAC values of 22.10 to 42.75 micromol TE per gram, white potato was under 11, peanut was 31.66 and tomato about 4.00. Spices (clove, cinnamon) showed the highest ORAC values (>2500, converted to micromol TE per gram). Cocoa has a high ORAC value, giving baking chocolate a value of 1032 and milk chocolate an average of 71.30.
A recent paper by Schauss et al. published in the peer-reviewed Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry reported an extremely high total ORAC value of 1027 micromol TE per gram for a freeze-dried fruit pulp and skin powder from the Acai berry (Euterpe oleracea) (Schauss et al. 2006). This is the highest ORAC value ever reported for a fruit or vegetable to this date, after converting values of fresh food weights to dry weights. This includes a hydrophilic ORAC antioxidant capacity of 997 micromol TE per gram, and a lipophilic ORAC antioxidant capacity of 30 micromol TE per gram.
Recently, a number of health food companies have capitalized on the ORAC rating, with dozens selling concentrated supplements that they claim to be "the number one ORAC product". Most of these values have never been published in the scientific literature so are difficult to evaluate. It is not known whether such values are accurate or how absorbable and functional these concentrated antioxidants are in the human body.
Watch this amazing video about Alzheimer’s and the benefit of coconut oil. Watch it to the end. It’s a real eye opener!
ORGANIC COCONUT OIL:
BAMBOO carries a variety of organic coconut oil. I personally use it for cooking and in my smoothies. Yum! Also, did you know that it has some natural sun screening properties and, according to Ayurveda, is cooling to the body. I also use it in my hair before washing and as a great moisturizer. TAKE NOTE not to put it in your hair and go out in our frigid, Canadian winters. Your hair will show little white bits.