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“Berry” Good Fruits December 14, 2007

Posted by Dreamhealer in Diet.

Nutrition experts recommend adults eat about two cups of fruit every day. Berries have long been touted as one healthy source of nutrition. In general, they are low in calories and contain high amounts of vitamin C and fiber. Two favorites are strawberries and blueberries. Strawberries contain calcium, magnesium, folic acid and potassium. They are also a rich source of healthy compounds, called phytochemicals. A cup of strawberries is only 53 calories. Blueberries offer vitamin C, minerals, lutein, phytochemicals and anthocyanosides, a group of powerful antioxidants. A cup of blueberries is only 83 calories. Newcomers to the Juice Market Around the world, there are many different types of exotic berries. Some of these are now making their way to the American juice market. And Nutritionist, Patti Milligan, M.S., R.D., C.N.S., says, compared to the traditional berry juices, some of these newcomers can pack quite a nutritional punch. Here’s a rundown on four of these juices: Mangosteen Mangosteen (Garcinia mangostana) is a tropical tree that grows from 20 to 82 feet high. The round fruit can grow to almost three inches in diameter. The rind is thick and turns purple as it ripens, concealing 5 to 7 segments of fleshy, white fruit. In some countries, mangosteen is prized for its unique sweet-tart flavor. Mangosteen juice is high in a group of antioxidants, called xanthones. Milligan says the juice is also high in potassium and magnesium, two key minerals that boost the body’s energy level and support the immune system. Goji Berries Goji berries (also known as wolfberries) come from the shrub, Lycium barbarum. The plant produces red berries which have a mild sweet/sour taste and a shape and texture similar to raisins. The fruit is a rich source of antioxidants, especially beta-carotene and zeaxanthin. The berries also contain high amounts of amino acids and vitamins B, C and E. Goji berries have been used in Chinese medicine for thousands of years to boost the immune system, protect the liver and improve circulation and eyesight. Today, the juice is touted for its supposed anti-aging benefits. However, studies show goji juice may interact with some drugs. So patients who are taking medications should talk to their physician or pharmacist before drinking the juice. Noni Berries Noni berries come from a small evergreen tree (Morinda citrifolia) that probably originated in Polynesia. Researchers believe migrating Polynesians brought the plant with them when they settled in tropical areas of Asia about 2,000 years ago. The plant is also known as the Indian Mulberry, Nono, Cheese Fruit and Ba Ji Tian. Herbalists have traditionally used the roots, stems, bark, leaves, flowers and fruit of the noni plant as a remedy for many different ailments. Recently, scientists have identified several important healthy components in the noni berry. Some research suggests noni berries may improve immune system function and mental health. The fruit has antibacterial, antiviral and analgesic properties. It’s also been shown to have some ability to fight cancer, tuberculosis, high blood pressure and high frequency hearing loss. Acai Berries Acai berries come from the Brazillian palm tree, Euterpe oleracea Mart. The plant grows in wet, tropical areas, reaching heights of 50 to 100 feet. The acai fruit is small, round and dark purple in color. They grow in bunches of 700 or more/branch. The fruit has a very tart taste, which Milligan likens to a raspberry with a hint of grape. Acai berries have high amounts of vitamin B, antioxidants, amino acids and fiber. Traditionally, the fruit has been used to treat digestive and skin problems. More recently, a study from the University of Florida found acai berry extracts were able to trigger a self-destruct response in 86 percent of leukemia cells placed in a lab culture. Studies also suggest the berries may preserve skin health and slow the effects of aging. In addition to juice, acai berries can be found in the frozen food aisle (for use in making smoothies and other drinks). A dehydrated form of the berries is sometimes placed in capsules. For general information on the healthy benefits of berries:

  • American Institute for Cancer Research
  • USDA
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