ORAC, short for Oxygen Radical Absorbance Capacity, is a test tube analysis that measures the
total antioxidant power of foods and other chemical substances. Antioxidant power is the ability to
neutralize oxygen free radicals. (http://www.promedics.ca/pdf/greensfirst_orac.pdf)
There is yet another new trend in healthy eating and that is what is commonly called "super foods" or "Antioxidant rich foods", really what they are referring to is foods with a high ORAC level.
The USDA is even on the bandwagon with this one! In a study published in May of 2010 they stated "the development of various chronic and degenerative diseases, such as cancer, heart disease and neuronal degeneration such as Alzheimer's Disease & Parkinson's disease may be attributed, in part, to oxidative stress." So basically, to me, they are saying if your are not eating ORAC rich foods you ARE making yourself sick! It is relatively easy to get the daily recommendations (3,000-5,000). However, based on the author of O2 (a diet plan focused on ORAC scores) we should be striving for 30K a day (again relatively easy to get - if you put just a little effort into it!).
Here is a short list of common items and their ORAC scores:
Red Delicious Apple w skin
Granny Smith Apple
Popcorn (air Popped)
Red potato w skin
Russet potato w skin
Now go check out more!
Here is the USDA database of ORAC scores and the White paper referred to above: http://www.ars.usda.gov/Services/docs.htm?docid=15866
Here is a great pdf on how to get some ORAC scores from spices: http://www.mccormick.com/mcc/ORAC_Chart_Color.pdf
One more great read around ORAC and value: http://www.wholefoodsmarket.com/pdfs/superfoods.pdf
My last recommended reading for this post: http://my.apexfitness.com/uploads/ORAC(1).pdf