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Don't Be Fooled By Expensive Superfoods - Foods With Highest Antioxidants Are The Cheapest

The top six foods with the highest antioxidant values on the ORAC (Oxygen Radical Absorbance Capacity) scale are cheaper and more readily available the more expensive alternatives with lower ORAC scores.

Although cocoa and acai are popularly promoted in health circles as the top superfoods having the highest antioxidant values, this is only hype as part of their marketing efforts to promote what has quickly become a billion dollar industry. The fact is, they don't even make the list of top six foods with the highest ORAC values which is one of the most accurate methods of measuring antioxidant capacities in biological samples.

ORAC units or "ORAC score" were developed by the National Institute on Aging in the National Institutes of Health (NIH). While the exact relationship between the ORAC value of a food and its health benefit has not been established, it is believed that foods higher on the ORAC scale will more effectively neutralize free radicals. According to the free-radical theory of aging, this will slow the oxidative processes and free radical damage that can contribute to age-related degeneration and disease.

Top 20 Foods With The Highest ORAC values

ORAC Value
μ mol TE/100g
1. Spices, cloves, ground
2. Sumac, bran, raw
3. Spices, cinnamon, ground
4. Sorghum, bran, hi-tannin
5. Spices, oregano, dried
6. Spices, turmeric, ground
7. Acai berry, freeze-dried
8. Sorghum, bran, black
9. Sumac, grain, raw
10. Cocoa, dry powder, unsweetened
11. Spices, cumin seed
12. Maqui berry, concentrated powder
13. Spices, parsley, dried
14. Sorghum, bran, red
15. Spices, basil, dried
16. Baking chocolate, unsweetened
17. Spices, curry powder
18. Sorghum, grain, hi-tannin
19. Chocolate, dutched powder
20. Maqui berry, juice

One benefit of using the ORAC method to evaluate substances' antioxidant capacity is that it takes into account samples with and without lag phases of their antioxidant capacities. This is especially beneficial when measuring foods and supplements that contain complex ingredients with various slow and fast acting antioxidants, as well as ingredients with combined effects that cannot be pre-calculated.

How would most public react if they knew they were overpaying for superfoods with inferior antioxidant potential to their much cheaper and higher quality counterparts? "It's something few people know about because it's not publicized as well as superfoods that attract the large corporations," said Dr. David To, a health scientist from Toronto, Canada. "You can't repackage cinnamon and sell it at 1000% markup because you can find cinnamon anywhere, so it does not appeal to the massive marketing operations that drive the superfood industry," he said.

Top Six Antioxidants

Organic Whole Cloves, 1 Pound - Price Range = $14-17
Cloves are the aromatic dried flower buds of an evergreen tree in the family Myrtaceae. Cloves are native to Indonesia and used as a spice in cuisine around the world.

Organic Sumac Grounded, 1 Pound - Price Range = $4-10
Sumac is a high-tannin variety of sorghum. Sorghum is a genus of numerous species of grasses, some of which are raised for grain. The plants are cultivated in warmer climates worldwide. Sorghum is native to tropical and subtropical regions of all continents.

Organic Cinnamon Grounded, 1 Pound - Price Range = $9-13
Cinnamon is a small evergreen tree 10–15 meters tall, belonging to the family Lauraceae, native to Bangladesh, India, and Nepal. The bark is the part of the tree widely used as a spice.

Organic Sorghum Flour, 1 Pound - Price Range = $2-8
Sorghum is a genus of numerous species of grasses, some of which are raised for grain. The plants are cultivated in warmer climates worldwide. Sorghum is native to tropical and subtropical regions of all continents.

Organic Oregano Leaf, 1 Pound - Price Range = $12-15
Oregano is a perennial herb high in antioxidant activity, due to a high level of flavonoids and phenolic acids. In addition, oregano has demonstrated antimicrobial activity against food-borne pathogens such as listeria. It may be useful for its levels of antioxidants and its food preserving qualities, and in some cultures, oregano has even been used to relieve coughs.

Organic Tumeric Root Powder, 1 Pound - Price Range = $6-10
Turmeric (Curcuma longa), a bright yellow spice, has powerful medicinal properties as both an anti-inflammatory agent and an antioxidant. It has long been used in the Chinese and Indian systems of medicine as an anti-inflammatory agent to treat a wide variety of conditions. Epidemiological studies have linked the frequent use of turmeric to lower rates of breast, prostate, lung and colon cancer.

When you consider the exorbitant cost of acai and other powders and juices on that market that are well double the cost of any of the above, the choice for cost efficiency and benefit to your health is obvious.

For more information and a full list of ORAC scores on selected food items check this list from the USDA website.


Reference Sources
April 15, 2011


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