Superfoods have a reputation for being similar to super heroes – endowed with super powers! A superfood has elevated status in the food world because it is more nutritionally dense than other foods and should play a starring role in your wellness. How do we decide which are best for us?
While food manufacturers depend on your ignorance about which foods are of the super variety, science explains how to measure a particular foods’ stunning attributes. This is done using an ORAC score. ORAC is an acronym for Oxygen Radical Absorbance Capacity, a technical way of describing the ability of a food to sop up free radicals. Free radicals matter as they are always implicated in degenerative change and disease in the body.
Superfoods always have high ORAC scores, meaning they have high antioxidant capabilities. To harness the disease fighting and anti-aging power of these foods, use them in everything from smoothies and salads, to snacks and soups.
For example, our friend kale has an ORAC score of 1770 per 100 grams. Kale has been “the superfood” of the last few years but did you know, red leaf lettuce has an ORAC score of 2426 per 100 grams? Why not toss some gorgeous red leaves into into your next smoothie?
Check out these superfoods and their ORAC scores and start using them today:
CLOVE ORAC SCORE: 314,446/100 grams
Clove is a dark spice, delicious in festive baked goods, smoothies and shakes. Often paired with cinnamon and nutmeg in baking, clove should be featured in a healthy diet at least as regularly as cinnamon. Clove has abundant health benefits, including aiding digestion, antimicrobial properties, cancer protective, liver protective, immune boosting, controlling blood sugar, preserving bone health, anti-mutagenic properties and headache prevention. Sprinkle a little into your next smoothie to capture these benefits.
SUMAC ORAC SCORE: 312,400/100 grams
Sumac is a spice used in middle Eastern dishes and is often used as a replacement for lemon, thanks to its’ sour and astringent nature. Ground into a powder from the dried berries of a bush native to Italy and the middle east, you will want to use this spice more often. It is especially delicious in hummus.
CEYLON CINNAMON ORAC SCORE: 267,537/100 grams
This particular variety of cinnamon is milder than the common variety, its’ Asian counterpart, cassia cinnamon. Where Ceylon cinnamon gets its’ star power, is in its’ ability to thin blood, manage blood sugar levels, reducing blood pressure and aiding digestion. It also has antimicrobial and anti-parasitic activity. Cinnamon can be sprinkled on your morning oats, into smoothies and shakes, and also in baking.
TURMERIC ORAC SCORE: 127,068/100 grams
Turmeric has an ORAC of 127,068 per 100 grams. This brilliant golden powder that comes from a fleshy root, also has the ability to switch on and activate 2500 of your genes, making it a powerful epigenetic food to include in your diet. Curcumin, the active ingredient in turmeric, reduces inflammation, a contributing factor in EVERY MAJOR DISEASE. Turmeric can readily be added to soups, stews, curries and even Turmeric Milk.
OREGANO ORAC SCORE: 159,277/100 grams
Oregano has numerous superfood qualities but one of its’ most valuable is that of antibacterial. Today many people swig oregano oil when they feel a cold coming on because the oils in oregano, thymol and carvacrol, kill cold-causing bacteria. Its high ORAC score shows that oregano powerfully mops up free radicals, the unstable molecules that cause disease. Oregano is also nutrient dense, containing plentiful fibre and nutrients, especially vitamin K, iron and calcium. It’s delicious on pizza and in tomato sauce!
CACAO ORAC SCORE: 55,653/100 grams
All we need is another reason to love chocolate and here it is; cacao scores high on the ORAC scale with a reading if 55,653 per 100 grams. Combined with its’ high mineral content and delicious flavour, cacao is a natural superfood, easy to love and practical in many health boosting recipes. Cacao is also a nutritionally complex food, containing over 300 plant compounds, including protein, fat, B-vitamins and minerals such as calcium, sulfur, magnesium, phosphorus, iron, zinc and copper. It is so nutritionally dense, when you eat it in moderation, it will even help you manage weight.
As you can see, many of the most antioxidant dense superfoods are meant to be eaten in small quantities. No one could sit down and eat a whole bowl of cinnamon! Use these in moderation for best results. On the other hand, blueberries have a lower ORAC score, but you can eat more of them. It’s all about balance.
Here are 5 superfoods to add to your daily diet:
- Dark berries:wolfberries, cherries, blueberries, elderberries and blackberries are all in season in the summer. Wolfberries have an ORAC score of 25,300/100 grams.
- Red leaf lettuce:In abundance in the summer, eat this beautiful crimson lettuce in a salad loaded with plenty of raw garlic, broccoli and shredded red cabbage, which are also superfoods.
- Black sorghum bran:A type of grass grown in warmer climates, sorghum is a valuable ancient grain food source. Soak sorghum overnight and cook like rice. Use it in salads and pilaffs. Black sorghum bran particularly has an ORAC score of 100,800/100 grams.
- Pecans: Pecans have the highest ORAC score of all nuts, coming in at 17,940/100 grams. Pecans add great value to health thanks to their high mineral content, something most of us are lacking. Toast them and add to salads or toss into your VitaMix to make delicious pecan nut butter.
- Red kidney beans:Kidney beans are a nutritious and protein-rich food. One cup of the raw beans contains 43 grams of protein and have an ORAC score of 8606/100 grams. Easy to add to salads, soups and a valuable vegetarian/vegan option, kidney beans are a must.