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Food Chem. 2014 Apr 1;148:204-8. doi: 10.1016/j.foodchem.2013.10.037. Epub 2013 Oct 19.

The additive properties of Oxygen Radical Absorbance Capacity (ORAC) assay: the case of essential oils.

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Dpto. Química Analítica, EINA, I3A, Universidad de Zaragoza, María de Luna 3, 50018 Zaragoza, Spain. Electronic address:


The ORAC assay is applied to measure the antioxidant capacity of foods or dietary supplements. Sometimes, the manufacturers claim antioxidant capacities that may not correspond to the constituents of the product. These statements are sheltered by the general understanding that antioxidants might exhibit synergistic properties, but this is not necessarily true when dealing with ORAC assay values. This contribution applies the ORAC assay to measure the antioxidant capacity of ten essential oils typically added to foodstuffs: citronella, dill, basil, red thyme, thyme, rosemary, oregano, clove and cinnamon. The major components of these essential oils were twenty-one chemicals in total. After a preliminary discrimination, the antioxidant capacity of eugenol, carvacrol, thymol, α-pinene, limonene and linalool was determined. The results showed that 72-115% of the antioxidant capacity of the essential oils corresponded to the addition of the antioxidant capacity of their constituents. Thus, the ORAC assay showed additive properties.


Additive properties; Antioxidant; Antioxidant capacity; Essential oil; ORAC; Oregano; Thyme

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