Measuring Antioxidant Value in Fruits and Vegetables for Your Juices and Smoothies

By Pat Crocker

One advantage of juices and smoothies is the antioxidants that come packed in each glass. How can you tell if a food is high in antioxidants? Many antioxidants, which are powerful phytonutrients, are found in the pigments (the components that give plants their color) of the skin. Look for brightly colored fruits and vegetables and eat a variety of colors every day.

How do food nutritionists know which foods are highest in antioxidants? Scientists isolate components in food, test their ability to neutralize free radicals, and give them a score. This score is the Oxygen Radical Absorbance Capacity (ORAC). Foods with the highest score contain the strongest antioxidants.

The highest scoring foods on the ORAC chart are raw sumac bran; ground cloves and other spices, such as cinnamon, turmeric, and pepper; high-tannin sorghum bran; oregano and other herbs, such as rosemary and thyme; and powdered dark cocoa. Use these as ingredients in smoothies and stirred into juices.