What is an ORAC Rating?

. . . outstanding indicator of antioxidant power…or overrated and outdated?

In 1991, Dr. Guohua Cao from the NIH National Institute on Aging—in conjunction with scientists at the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA)—developed the Oxygen Radical Absorbance Capacity (ORAC) rating to measure the antioxidant capacity of phytonutrients in food sources.

Since then, ORAC units have been used as the standard for determining the power of foods and supplements to quench free radicals in the body.

USDA abandons ORAC

However, last year a dispute over the validity of the ORAC rating of foods and supplements took center stage. You may have heard news that the USDA withdrew its support for using ORAC scores.

They claimed it no longer was a valid indicator of a food substance’s ability to quench free radicals. Why? Because ORAC tests substances in vitro—a controlled experiment using test tubes—insisting no physiological proof exists to indicate these same results occur in the human body (in vivo).

Of course, our own government seldom gets it right when it comes to food health. So Brunswick Labs—a leading research, analysis, and technology laboratory involved in the science of antioxidants—promptly issued a strong rebuttal to the USDA ORAC misinformation provided to an unsuspecting public.

Almost immediately, consumers and researchers took notice. Brunswick Labs indicated that interest in ORAC scores had increased since the USDA removed the ORAC database from its website. Yet, if you had already, or are still considering downplaying the importance of antioxidants in your diet…not so fast!

New study suggests ORAC relevance in human research

We’ve discussed previously how consuming high-ORAC fruits and vegetables slows the aging process in the body and brain. And now, it seems the USDA’s harsh judgment of ORAC relevance was a bit premature.

Shortly after they bailed on ORAC, a new study published in the American Heart Association’s journal Stroke concluded that dietary TAC (total antioxidant capacity) reduced the risk of stroke among women with and without cardio vascular disease. And earlier this year, an analysis of that same study concluded dietary TAC lowered the risk of heart failure in that same group.

Why ORAC supporters can cheer

Admittedly, there were shortcomings in the original ORAC testing methodology. It measured antioxidant capacity against only one type of free radical in your body…the peroxyl radical. Still a valuable assessment, technological advancements allowed Brunswick Labs to create a new antioxidant testing method called the ORAC 5.0 (also called ORACFN) assay.

The ORAC 5.0 more accurately indicates a substance’s antioxidant power. How? By measuring its ability to neutralize a wider range of the most common destructive free radicals in the body. Besides the peroxyl radical, the new assay tests against hydroxyl, peroxynitrite, singlet oxygen, and superoxide anion radicals.

Brunswick Labs recently released to the public selected data for its ORAC 5.0 test panel. Now, food manufacturers and supplement makers can get a more meaningful evaluation of their product’s antioxidant capacity.

If you’re considering an antioxidant supplement, Beyond Health recommends that you verify it’s been tested using the newer, more powerful ORAC 5.0 assay. That way, you can be more confident that high ORAC…means high free radical protection. Beyond Health Age Defense Formula meets these standards with the highest ORAC score on the market.

Sources:

http://www.oracwatch.org/index.php
http://articles.mercola.com/sites/articles/archive/2010/08/28/ginny-bank-on-orac-values.aspx

 

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