Simplifying Anti-oxidants and ORAC

by 365veda Official on Jan 16, 2024

Simplifying Anti-oxidants and ORAC

An antioxidant is a term for any compound that can counter the free radicals that damage the DNA, cells or any parts of it. 

Still sounds out of place? Simply put, free radicals are the 'villains' that damage cells and tissues over time and antioxidants are the 'heroes' that come to your rescue!

Some antioxidants are naturally produced in the body and a lot of them come from the food we eat for instance, Vitamin C, Vitamin E, beta carotene, phytochemicals from various plant sources like gallic acid, quercetin, catechin, etc.

Free radicals are unstable molecules and lack a full complement of electrons. To become stable they steal electrons from other molecules and damage them in the process. 

Antioxidants neutralize the free radicals by giving up their electrons and stopping the chain reaction of further damage.

Why does the body produce free radicals?

Free radicals are generated in response to environmental pollution, UV rays, smoking, alcohol consumption, attack from external microbes like bacteria or viruses, and also as a natural byproduct of processes in the cells. 

If the body cannot eliminate the free radicals effectively it will result in oxidative stress which eventually leads to compromised immunity and many health conditions.  

To counter these free radicals, antioxidants from our food and various supplements can come to the rescue.

What do you mean by ORAC?

The antioxidant values of foods are expressed in ORAC (Oxygen Radical Absorbance Capacity) units, which is a unit of measurement for antioxidant content. This was originally developed by the National Institute on Aging (NIA) at the National Institutes of Health (NIH).

It is an in-vitro method of measuring the antioxidant capacity of different foods and supplements. Higher the ORAC value, stronger the antioxidant capacity of a food or supplement. 

ORAC values are listed as µmol TE/100g (micromol Trolox Equivalent per 100 grams)

Optimal ORAC intake: References have shown that a healthy immune system requires 3000-5500 daily ORAC intake. (US Dept of Agriculture Research Service, Tufts University)

Top Foods with High ORAC value per 100gm

Clove 314446
Sumac Bran 312400
Ground Cinnamon 267536 
Sorghum bran 240000
Dried oregano 200129
Ground turmeric 159277
Acai berry, freeze-dried 102700
Sorghum, bran, black 100800
Sumac, grain, raw 86800
Cocoa, dry powder, unsweetened 80933


 ORAC Values of some Ayurveda herbs

Triphala 706,250
Amla (Indian gooseberry) 261,500
Aloevera 115,000
Licorice root 102,945
Tulsi powder 67,553
Ashwagandha root 8,487
Tinospora ext. 2,614


ORAC Value of World's Oldest Superfood - Chyavanprash

One of the most popular Rasayana (rejuvenatives) described in Ayurveda, Chyavanprash is a polyherbal preparation that has 45+ herbs along with cow ghee, honey, and sesame oil.

The formulation is full of phytochemicals (plant chemicals) many of which seem to have antioxidant potential. The antioxidant value of Chyavanprash described in ORAC units is 35,700 μ mol TE/100g.