The ORAC Scale on Antioxidant Capacity from the USDA and Tufts University
A measure of the oxygen radical absorption capacity in foods
Learn more about the ORAC Scale and the antioxidant capacity of essential oils in Modern Essentials.
Free radicals, and the damage they can do at the cellular level, have received a lot of attention in the last few years. The oxidative stress caused by free radicals — which are produced during normal metabolism and cell function, as well as pollutants in our air, water and food — is implicated in everything from pre-mature aging and wrinkling of the skin to DNA damage, diabetes, cancer and heart disease.
This is clearly an issue for anyone concerned about their health, or just looking and feeling younger.
Antioxidants to the rescue
The good news is that you're not left to the ravages of these free radicals. Antioxidants offer powerful, effective protection for your body and cells against their oxidative stress, by blunting the damaging effects of free radicals.
But, how are you to tell which foods or other natural substances offer you the best protection from the damaging effects of free radicals?
The ORAC Scale on antioxidant capacity
USDA researchers at Tufts University in Boston, Massachusetts, have developed a new laboratory test to measure the oxygen radical absorption capacity of different foods and natural substances. Known as the ORAC scale, it is one of the most sensitive and reliable methods for measuring antioxidant capacity.
The first test of its kind, the ORAC (Oxygen Radical Absorbance Capacity) scale measures both the time and degree of free-radical inhibition.
All antioxidant capacity measures are estimated by Ferric Reducing Power, and are expressed as micromole Trolox equivalent (TE) per 100 grams (µTE/100 g). The ORAC test is accurate to +/- 5%.
Comparison of different foods and natural substances on the ORAC scale
Essential Oil Antioxidant Capacity
Foods Antioxidant Capacity
|Myrrh||379,800||Vitamin E oil||3,309|
|Ylang ylang||130,000||XanGo juice||1,644|
|Oregano||15,300||Red bell peppers||710|
|Cinnamon bark||7,100||Yellow corn||400|
|Frankincense||630||Essential Oils Antioxidant Capacity|
A word of qualification about these ORAC scores
While it's possibly true that "numbers don't lie", they can be misread. Therefore, a word of qualification about the scores listed here needs to be made.
A word on marketing:
I was recently introduced to an antioxidant juice made with açaia. While I will admit — not knowing any better, at this point — that açaia is the most potent antioxidant fruit anywhere, the claims made about this juice were off-the-wall.
Because the marketers missed the point that the ORAC scale measures 100 grams of the juice, not one gram. So, when you hear claims about the antioxidant capacity of the many drinks on the market today, do your homework. If you do, I think you'll find that Alpha CRS™ tops them all quite handily.
When you look at a number like 1,078,700 µTE (for clove oil), you must remember that we're talking about that level of Ferric Reducing Power in 100 grams, not per serving. I don't have any idea how many grams 3-6 drops of clove oil might be, but it would be a lot less than 100 grams; so there is no way you would get 1,078,700 µTE in a normal "serving". On the other hand, a serving of blueberries might be around 128 grams, giving you an ORAC score of roughly 3,072 µTE.
But, the point remains: Essential oils are still one of the richest sources of antioxidants on the earth.
S-ORAC and the absorbance of the Superoxide free radical
Superoxide is the most dangerous and abundant free radical. Elevated superoxide levels are linked to heart disease, cancer, arthritis, asthma and other inflammatory conditions.
Independent testing, done at the Brunswick Laboratories in Wareham, Massachusetts, has rated the S−ORAC properties of five of the leading antioxidant berry juices.
- more than 10 servings of fruits and vegetables,
- 3.33 servings of NingXia Red,
- 3 servings of MonaVie or
- 9.5 servings of XanGo.
It's the best source for the antioxidants your body needs, at a fraction of the cost of these antioxidant drinks.
A final word about ORAC
Recently, I was in contact with someone from the company the sells Himalayan Goji™. Goji juice is the cornerstone of their product line; so, when I mentioned Alpha CRS™, this person was very quick to pooh-poohed the whole ORAC scale (see above, if you wonder why).
This person told me that ORAC was developed by private labs, and only performed as a marketing ploy — way of making money; and, that it had no scientific basis or validity as a measurement of the capacity of anything to combat free radicals.
The point is: If I was selling Himalayan Goji™, and its value was the foundation of my business, I'd be tempted to ignore the facts — or misrepresent them, as this person did. But, the truth remains: that ORAC is indeed scientific.
- It was not developed by a private lab for the purpose of making money; it was developed, in essence, by the USDA — a government agency — working at Tufts University.
- The ORAC test was not developed for commercial reasons, but to insure that Americans had the information needed to protect themselves from free radical damage.
- The fact that only a few labs perform ORAC or S-ORAC testing is not due to its suspect value, but due to the fact that it is a patented process, and protected under the law. There is also a high level of sensitivity in the testing. Most labs just are not equipped to handle it.
So, if you're looking for the best antioxidant protection you can get, for the best price around, Alpha CRS™ is by far the most powerful source of free radical fighting substances you will find. So, don't settle for Himalayan Goji™; your health is too important to trust with products only pretending to be something extraordinary.