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Health Benefits of Some Exotic Fruits


A recent import from Brazil, açai (pronounced "ah-sigh-ee") is quickly becoming the new superfood of choice. Dubbed the new superfood, açai is indeed packed with antioxidants. It is believed to be able to cure anything and everything from arthritis to heart disease.

Açai is the fruit from a special palm tree that grows in the Amazon rainforest and tastes like a cross between blackberries and chocolate. It’s been a staple for the indigenous tribes that live there for hundreds of years, and they call the tree that bears this small purple fruit "the Tree of Life." Today, everyone from gourmet chefs to health food afficionados are hooked on this luscious purple puree. Studies show that açai berries contain the highest antioxidant content of any food ever researched.

Açai's health benefits are downright impressive and scientists are also touting the fruits high level of proteins, fiber, vitamin E, minerals, and important essential fatty acids. Açai's is also a natural cholesterol controller that builds the immune system, fights infection, protects the heart and can control prostate enlargement.

There’s only one problem – processing destroys much of the antioxidant potential in açai. Two studies conducted by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the University of California and other institutions examined the antioxidant properties of commercially available freeze-dried açai fruit pulp and skin powder and found that they typically contained an ORAC score of only 155 compared to the original ORAC score of 1026.9. ORAC stands for oxygen radical absorbance capacity – or how much capacity a substance has to quench free radicals. So while açai is a terrific addition to your diet, don’t rely on this fruit alone for your total antioxidant protection.

Other Exotic Fruits: Goji, Mangosteen, and Noni

In the pre-açai days, three exotic fruits took center stage: Goji berries, a staple of Traditional Chinese Medicine; mangosteen from the South Pacific; and noni from Southeast Asia. And while it’s fun to try foods from far-off places, each of these harbor health benefits that make them worthwhile additions to your diet.

Goji berries may sound new, but they have actually been used for centuries by TCM practitioners. Historically known as wolfberry, goji is abundant in minerals, amino acids and antioxidant phytonutrients. Recent investigations suggest that goji may help stave off age-related macular degeneration, enhances immunity, boosts energy levels and limits cholesterol oxidation.

You’ve probably seen dried goji berries at your local health food store. Goji berries have a mellow taste that isn’t overly sweet. Pick up a small pack and try them yourself as a handy snack or a unique addition to your dinner salad.

Known as the “Queen of Fruits,” mangosteen has an exquisite flavor. More importantly, it’s rich in xanthones – compounds with powerful antioxidant properties. Research shows that mangosteen reduces inflammation and LDL (bad) cholesterol oxidation. It’s also full of antimicrobial and anti-cancer properties which may prove important in future research.

Finally, there’s noni. This Polynesian fruit has traditionally been used to bring down fevers, treat coughs, draw out skin infections and ease digestive ailments. Modern science has shown that noni is packed with robust antioxidants and is being investigated as a cancer-fighting and anti-inflammatory agent.

One last thing . . .

While it’s fun to try food from around the world, when it comes to antioxidants you can get your fill right in North America. The best and brightest of homegrown fruits are blueberries. Often called the ultimate brain fruit, blueberries can help you keep your mental edge and counteract some stroke damage. Other studies suggest potential anti-cancer and cholesterol-lowering benefits.

Other antioxidant-rich fruits you’ll find in the produce aisle include pomegranate, black cherry, cranberries and grapes. But to get the most from these familiar fruits, opt for organic. Not only are they more nutritious, they are also grown without pesticides.

Until recently, blueberries have taken the starring role in many morning "smoothies" due to their great taste, high fiber content, and their ability to battle disease and aging.
Source: The Advanced Natural Medicine Bulletin
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