10 Antioxidants With Highest ORAC Units Rating

ORAC units (Oxygen radical absorbance capacity). These give a clear picture of how much a certain antioxidant is absorbing free radicals in the body.


What are antioxidants

Antioxidants are substances that can prevent or slow damage to cells caused by free radicals. Free radicals are unstable and toxic byproducts of oxygen metabolism that can cause significant damage to living cells and tissues in a process called “oxidative stress.” Free radicals are also known as Reactive oxygen species (ROS).
The vitamins and minerals the body uses to counteract oxidative stress are called antioxidants. These antioxidants can be natural or artificial. Some of the plant sources are known to be rich in antioxidants. These plant-based antioxidants are also known as phytonutrients or plant nutrients.
Antioxidants are also called “free radical scavengers.”

Best antioxidants

Before we get started here is something you should know, The efficiency of Antioxidants is measured in ORAC units (Oxygen radical absorbance capacity). These give a clear picture of how much a certain antioxidant is absorbing free radicals in the body.
The USDA recommends around 3,000 to 5,000 ORAC units daily. We can certainly reach that amount by adding some of these foods listed below.
so let’s see some of the best antioxidants that we can consume each day.
Spices contain a huge amount of antioxidants, the only limitation for spices is that we can only consume them in small amounts at a given time, no one would be willing to eat 100 grams of cloves in a day!
Here we have some of the best spices with the highest ORAC units.

1 – Cloves

Cloves have the highest ORAC unit value with over 314,446 units/100 grams. We can add cloves to our daily diet by adding a little bit of clove in our food every day. The best thing about all the spices is that not only they are high in antioxidants but are also antimicrobial and anti-inflammatory.
Clove has also been proved to help reduce insulin resistance. In a study, mice we have given clove extract and nigericin, a component of clove extract, This help reduce insulin resistance in mouse muscles.
Mice with diabetes also showed improvements in glucose tolerance, Insulin resistance, Insulin secretion, and beta-cell function.
Cloves can easily be added to our diet, People in India add cloves to tea. It only makes sense to add these spices to our daily diets.

2 – Sumac, Bran

Sumac bran has around 312,400 ORAC Units/100 grams. This is not as used in food as most of the other spices but you can surely add more of this now that you know the benefits of this amazing spice.
Sumac spice can also help in lowering blood glucose levels and increase the levels of good cholesterol.
Sumac is also high in Vitamin C. The juice of sumac was used by Native Americans to fight, Common cold, Fever, and Scurvy.
In a study consuming sumac juice after intense exercise also helped reduce muscle pain. Adding some sumac to your diet is easy.

3 – Cinnamon

With around 267,536 ORAC Units/100 grams cinnamon stands as third. This is one of my favorites as you can add this to almost anything and still enjoy it. The anti-inflammatory benefits of cinnamon are known by many as well.
Cinnamon also helps body fight infections and helps body repair tissue damage.
In a study, people with Type 2 diabetes were given 1 gram or about half a teaspoon of cinnamon every day, which showed improvements in blood markers. This can help reduce the risk of heart diseases, which is the most common cause of premature deaths.
Cinnamon can also help in improving insulin sensitivity, has an anti-diabetic effect and can lower blood sugar levels.
You can also use cinnamon for fighting against fungal and bacterial infections.

4 – Sorghum, Barn, Raw

Sorghum has around 240,000 ORAC Units/100 grams. It is rich in potassium and phosphorus. Sorghum also has a good amount of calcium, thiamine, and niacin.
Eating 100 grams of Sorghum gives about 339 calories. It is also gluten-free which is helpful for people suffering from celiac disease, the protein, and starch in sorghum helps it digest slowly. This is particularly good for people who are diabetic, as fast-digesting foods can raise insulin levels.

ORAC units infographic
ORAC units infographic

5 – Oregano Dried

This is an easily available spice, which you can find almost all around the world. With around 200,129 ORAC Units/100 Grams.
Here are a few things Dried oregano can do for you. With good amounts of Manganese, Iron and Vitamin A, dried oregano can help boost immunity with regular consumption.
They have also been known to help relieve pain during menstrual cramps. Just chewing a few leaves can help 3-4 times a day can help.
Oregano can also help aid good digestion. Adding a little bit to spice up the food will never go wrong with this amazing herb.

6 – Turmeric Ground

With natural Anti-inflammatory compounds, turmerics stands 6th, with 159,277 ORAC Units/100 Grams.
Turmeric can also help increase BDNF (Brain-Derived Neurotrophic Factor.) BDNF is highly linked to improved brain function.
People high in BDNF have a lower chance of getting Alzheimer’s disease. By increasing BDNF you can reduce age-related diseases and improve brain function in older people.
Turmeric can also help reduce the risk of heart disease. It does so by improving the endothelium which is the lining of blood vessels.
It can also help with depression and improve mood.

7 – Acai Berry, Freeze Dried

One of the two berries on our list is this on Acai Berry with 102,700 ORAC Units/100 Grams.
Other than being high on antioxidants they can also help lower cholesterol levels, they can do so by lowering the total and LDL cholesterol.
They also show anti-cancer properties. The pulp of acai berries have shown and reduction in colon and bladder cancers in mice.
The compounds of acai berry have also been shown to improve brain functions, like improved memory.
With a good amount of minerals, this is one of the berries you should keep in mind.

8 – Cocoa Powder Unsweetened

You may not have thought about this but Cocoa powder does have quite a high amount of antioxidants with around 80,933 ORAC Units/100 Grams.
The other benefit of cocoa powder is it can help reduce high blood pressure by improving the nitric oxide levels in our bodies.
It can also lower the risk of heart diseases, The polyphenols in cocoa powder can also improve blood flow to the brain and help with brain function.
Cocoa Flavanols have been shown to improve mental performance on people with or without mental impairments.
It can also help improve mood, especially in people with depression and anxiety.
Cocoa powder also has some anti-diabetic effects (note- this is unsweetened cocoa powder.)
So adding some cocoa powder to your diet daily can be a healthy choice.

9 – Cumin seeds

You may have already heard that adding cumin seeds to the diet can help digestion but you should also know that they are a good source of antioxidants as well with around 76,800 ORAC Units/100 Grams.
Cumins seeds are also a very good source of Iron, just one teaspoon of cumin seeds contains about 1.4mg of Iron which is 75% of daily requirements for a healthy adult.
It also contains many plant compounds that are very helpful like terpenes, phenols, flavonoids, and alkaloids.
Cumin can also help with diabetes by helping reduce AGEs (Advanced Glycation End Products)
Clinical studies have also shown that cumin can help reduce blood cholesterol. It can also help promote weight loss and fat reduction.

10 – Maqui Berry, Powder

This one is famous in South America with around 75,000 ORAC Units/100 Grams maqui berry stands as the tenth one on our list.
This berry can help reduce chronic diseases such as heart diseases, cancer, diabetes, and arthritis.
Maqui Berry can also help fight inflammation like all the other foods on our list. It also helps aid in blood sugar control.
Not only that but, Maqui berry extract can also support better eye health by reducing the damage the healthy eye cells.
It can also support the gut microbiome by providing a healthy mixture of fibers to the gut. This can help improve the good bacteria in our gut and thereby improving health.

ORAC units graph
ORAC units graph


So there are quite a few varieties when it comes to getting enough antioxidants on a day-to-day basis. You can mix and match different foods from this list or add them to a variety of dishes.
Even though there are many different foods with a good amount of antioxidants in them, these were some of the highest that we could find form you.

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By Varun Paherwar

I love to blog about nutrition and health.

I've made this blog to share as much information as I can about things related to health and fitness.