Data on Food Antioxidants Aid Research
By Rosalie Marion
Bliss November 6, 2007
Measures of the antioxidant capacities of 277 selected foods were
released today by Agricultural Research Service (ARS) scientists. The new database provides
easy access to antioxidant values for a wide variety of foods, many of which
may be excellent sources of healthful compounds.
The database will be used by scientists to help guide ongoing research
into how antioxidants may correlate to health benefits. For example, many
fruits and vegetables are known to be good sources of antioxidant vitamins,
such as E, C, and beta carotene, a form of vitamin A. But these natural foods
also contain other compounds, collectively known as phytonutrients, that may
contribute to health.
The database was prepared by ARS researchers at the
Data Laboratory, part of the agency's Beltsville Human Nutrition Research
at Beltsville, Md., in collaboration with colleagues at the
Arkansas Children's Nutrition Center in Little Rock. ARS is the
U.S. Department of Agriculture's chief
scientific research agency.
Many of the fruits, nuts, vegetables and spices listed were analyzed
for their Oxygen Radical Absorbance Capacity, known as ORAC, at the Arkansas
center. ORAC is one of a number of methods available to evaluate the
antioxidant capacities of foods. The method was developed by ARS chemist
Prior with colleagues. Prior also studies the ability of antioxidants to be
absorbed and utilized within the human body.
Data on foods analyzed using the ORAC method were also gathered during
an extensive search of peer-reviewed, scientific literature, and screened
through a USDA-developed, data-quality-evaluation system. Both the screened
data and the analyzed data are listed in the database, along with data quality
indicators. Antioxidant capacity measures may vary due to factors such the type
of cultivar studied and its growing and harvesting conditions, as well as the
methods used for a food sample's preparation, processing, and/or analysis.
The new release expands upon the 2004 data release by ARS on estimates
of the antioxidant capacity of 171 foods.
To access the new database, go to: