What is ORAC?

A client recently asked me what ORAC meant, because she had read it in several health articles discussing antioxidants in fruits and vegetables. Here’s my answer. ORAC or the oxygen radical absorbance capacity measures the free radical destroying potential of a particular food.

Based on a 100 gram (about 3 ounces) portion, here’s the ranking of the top 10 fruits, the top 10 vegetables, and two surprise foods:


Goji berries 25,300
Black raspberries 7,700
Prunes 5,770
Bilberries 4,460
Pomegranates 3,307
Raisins 2,830
Blueberries 2,400
Red raspberries 2,400
Blackberries 2,026
Strawberries 1,540
Vegetables ORAC Score


Garlic 1,939
Spinach 1,770
Yellow squash 1,150
Brussels sprouts 980
Alfalfa sprouts 930
Steamed spinach 909
Broccoli 880
Beets 840
Avocado 782
Red bell pepper 710


Dark chocolate 13,120
Milk chocolate 6,740

Yes, I can hear the chocolate lovers of the world cheering! Chocolate does have some redeeming nutritional properties. And, you may ask what in the world are goji berries?

These pinkish-red berries native to Tibet and China are high in iron, protein, fiber, vitamin C, vitamin E, and many other nutrients. They can be eaten fresh or dried, used in cooking, cereal, trail mixes, and smoothies. You can find them at many health food stores.

While these values are useful, they are not complete. Here’s the larger picture. The ORAC scores actually measure only one type of antioxidant activity — the reactive oxygen species or ROS that functions in the water-based compartments of the body. Along with many other water-soluble antioxidants, there are fat-soluble antioxidants as well. For example, the carotenoid family of antioxidants includes beta-carotene, lycopene, luctein, canthaxanthin, and zeaxanthin, but these fat-soluble substances are not measured in the ORAC test. In addition, the ORAC measurements are done in a test tube which is very different from the complex, constantly changing biochemistry of a living body. Even though ORAC has shortcomings, it is still a useful tool. Some experts have suggested that people should consume about 5,000 ORAC units a day for maximum health benefits.

Based on what you eat every day, what is your ORAC score?

  • Service

    Thank you Doctor.

  • Deanne

    Funny they missed the 2nd top supper food of the world on the list, Acai Berry. No 1 is Cocoa. Per 100 gram Acai is 18,500+ and unprocessed Cocoa powder is 26,000.. which is what in Xocai Healthy Dark Chocolate… Cocoa, Acai & Blue Berries – 3 pieces a day equals up to 84,777 ORAC and Flavonoids 1,904… or eating 3 pieces a day is equal to 12 servings of fruit and vegetables in antioxidants, flavonoids and nutrients in one day.  http://www.healthydarkchocolate4u.com

  • Guest

    Can you please post the source of ORAC info in your chart?

  • OK… here is one chart.. I can provide more but not sure what your looking for…

    ·       Dr. Gordon Pedersen on Anti-Aging & more – Part 1 http://youtu.be/D4QhYViRfZg  

  • Deanne

    Oops.. I’m sorry, I thought you were asking me the ORAC Q…

  • I want to see various fats and amino acids tested for ORAC values; but of course the fats at least couldn’t be tested because they are not water-soluble. I am hoping that someone will invent a good test that will do fat and fat-soluble nutrients.

  • Dr. Holly

    oxygen radical absorbance capacity there are several different types of free radicals in the body, oxygen based (6 groups), nitrogen based, etcanti-oxidants (over 18, 000 known anti-oxidants) eliminate the oxygen based free radicals by giving them an electron….different anti-oxidants work in different areas (inside the cell; cell membrane; outside the cells) and on different groups of oxygen based free radicals…the epicatechins and procynandins found in chocolate are both powerful and effective on a number of different types of oxygen based free radicalshope that helps and doesn’t confuse…
    Per Dr.Holly

  • Hatice Büşra Öztürk

    could you give further information about antioxidant oils and their orac values?

  • Kirsten

    What about black currants?