Do You Know Nutrition: What is oxygen radical absorbance capacity value?

By Phylis Canion
July 1, 2014 at 2:01 a.m.

Editor's note: These questions have published before, but because of more questions regarding these topics, the column is being published again.

I recently purchased a product that had an oval display that stated ORAC with a number underneath it. Since then I have noticed an ORAC value on others products. Can you please explain what ORAC stands for and what the number means.

ORAC is an acronym for oxygen radical absorbance capacity and is a method of measuring antioxidant capacities of different foods and supplements. The value was developed by scientists at the National Institutes of Health.

While the exact relationship between the value of a food and its health benefit has not been established, it is believed that foods higher on the value's scale will more effectively neutralize free radicals, according to

Neutralizing free radicals will slow the oxidative processes and free radical damage that can contribute to age-related degeneration and disease. The higher the number, the better the antioxidant capacity is. To give you an idea, fresh ground cinnamon has an value of 6,000 per one-third teaspoon. Wild blueberries, per one cup serving, have a value more than 13,000. An apple has a value of 4,000. The United States Department of Agriculture recommends a value ingestion of about 3,000 to 5,000 daily.

I hear a lot about resveratrol. Is this a new discovery? I do not consume red wine, which I understand has a high level of resveratrol. So my questions: Are there foods that contain resveratrol, and does white wine contain resveratrol? If you have run this question in a previous column, I am sorry that I missed it!

In 1976, Drs. P. Langcake and R.J. Pryce reported the presence of resveratrol and its derivatives in grapevine tissue. It was discovered at that time that plants produced resveratrol when they were under attack by fungi, bacteria or viruses.

This led to the conclusion that resveratrol was a natural protectant to plants under times of stress and also led to the beginning of studies to examine whether resveratrol could be beneficial to humans. Recent studies indicate that resveratrol is one of the most versatile and effective plant compounds discovered so far.

Resveratrol is found in raw peanuts, grapes, cranberries, chocolate and is also available in supplement form. The reason resveratrol is not present in white wine is because white wine is not produced with the skins of grapes, and the grape skins contain an abundant amount of resveratrol.

Thought for the week: Be who you are and say what you feel, because those who mind don't matter and those who matter don't mind. - B.M. Baruch

Next free nutrition class will be at 7 p.m. July 14 at the Organic Emporium.

Phylis B. Canion is a doctor of naturopathic medicine and is a certified nutritional consultant; email her at This column is for nutritional information only and is not intended to treat, diagnose or cure.



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