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SuperFruits - This One Is The Most Powerful

Superfruits are the new so-called champions of health and wellness. Their high antioxidant content, exotic origins, and strange names make them almost irresistible to health food enthusiasts. This class of superfood fruits have become the new symbols of wellness throughout the world. What are these fruits, and which one is the best?

Chances are you’ve heard some of these odd names. Go to any health food store and you’ll see names such as Noni, Goji, Mangosteen, Acai, and Maqui. Some of their more mundane relatives have anti-aging properties too, such as blueberries, raspberries, pomegranates, and even prunes!

You can hear or read about these growing goodies in the media as their influence in society becomes more prevalent. They are presented as promising nutritional supplements in the health field by devoted users, believing doctors, and even certain scientists.

One major alleged benefit of these antioxidizing berries and fruits is their anti-aging properties. Aging is theorized to be the result of oxidation (a harmful chemical reaction) of the body. This is similar to a piece of iron being oxidized or degraded rust. This oxidation in the human body is caused by buildup of toxins or free radicals (oxidizing agents or oxidants). The body’s immune system tries to decrease aging by destroying free radicals as best it can. Special foods might be helpful in eliminating these radical cells. How do we know which foods work the best?

A group of scientists came up with a score that they figured how to measure at a place called Brunswick Laboratories in Massachusetts. It is called the ORAC score. It measures a food’s Oxygen Radical Absorbance Capacity (ORAC). If a fruit has potential to assist in eliminating those free-radical cells aging our bodies, the ORAC test can reveal it.

So which is the best of these superberries?

Tahitian Noni (or just Noni) is also called Morinda Citrufolia, Mengkudu Mulberry, Tahitian noni, or even cheese fruit. It grows in Southeast Asia and the Pacific Ocean area and is a member of the coffee family. It makes bitter-tasting juice that is also sold in capsule form. There are many differing health benefits claimed for the juice of this berry. It has an ORAC score of 4,500 antioxidant units per 100 grams (g) of the fruit.

The bitter juice of the Noni Berry is said to have many wellness benefits.

Noni berries.

The Purple Mangosteen fruit or Garcinia mangostana grows on a tropical evergreen tree found in both Thailand and the Philippines. Its ORAC score is 12,000 units per 100 g.

Mangosteen berry juice is a popular health food supplement.
Close-up of Mangosteen fruit.

Acai Berries from the Euterpe oleracea palm tree come from the rain forests of Brazil and has been popularized on the Oprah Show. It is pronounced “aa-sigh-ee” or “ah-sigh.” Its ORAC content is 16,700 antioxidant units per 100 g.

Acai berries are becoming more popular in the Western world for their health benefits.
Acai berries.

Goji goes by many names, including Lycium Barbarum, Chinese Wolfberry, goji berry, mede berry, Duke of Argylls tea tree, Murali, bocksdorn, and even the barbary matrimony vine. It has been popular in the Far East for millennia, but western countries are only recently becoming aware of goji juice. It has an ORAC score of 25,300 units per 100 g of fruit.

The juice of the Goji berry is high in antioxidants.
Goji berries.

The Patagonian Maqui Berry (Macqui, Maquei, Chilean Wine Berry or Aristotelia chilensis) currently has the highest measured Oxygen Radical Absorbance Capacity of any fruit or berry: an astoundingly healthy 27,600 units per 100 g. Maqui berries appear somewhat similar to blueberries (see below).

There are also ordinary fruits who have been with us all along who have qualities similar to the exotic fruits. They are:

Prunes - dried plums (Prunus domesticus) have an ORAC score 5,770 units per 100 g.

Prunes, or dried plums, are infamous for their digestive effects, but have good antioxidant properties as well.
Ripe and dried prunes.

Blueberry - these dark blue, dark purple, or black berries of the genus Vaccinium have an ORAC score 6,500 units per 100 g.

The common blueberry has an ORAC score as good as some of the superfruits.

Black Raspberries - these red, black or purple berries were rated with an ORAC score 7,700 units per 100 g.

The highly nutritious black raspberry is found in several different colors.
Black raspberries.

Pomegranate - the lemon- to grapefruit-sized red fruit of the Punica granatum rated an impressive ORAC score of 10,500 units per 100 g.

The colorful pomegranate fruit has an extremely high ORAC score.
Pomegranate being sliced.

The Maqui Berries have the highest ORAC anti-oxidant content of any of the exotic fruits that were measured, based on the values presented above. Pomegranate has more Oxygen Radical Absorbance Capacity than any of the ordinary fruits, and is even higher than some of the exotic ones!

These ORAC scores are not constant, which is why it is difficult to rate these fruits accurately. Many things can influence the measurement results, like the environment, when and where they were grown, and the way the testing samples were harvested and processed. Dried fruit is more concentrated and will score higher than fresh fruit.

A fruit’s dark color is a giveaway to its identity of having high antioxidant content, and thus a high ORAC score. Note how the super berries and fruits tend to have deep red, purple, or blue colors.

The US Department of Agriculture (USDA) recommends people consume 5,000 ORAC units every day. That is considered to be the maximum amount that the body can utilize daily. Five thousand units is five times more than 80% of us eat daily, on average. Most of us do not eat enough fruits and vegetables. The few 20% who do are on the road to better health. If those 20% are also eating antioxidant, anti-aging superfruits, then they are not only farther down the road to excellent health, they’re much closer than those who don’t eat their fruits and vegetables daily.

Copyright 2009 by Doug Smith. All Rights Reserved Worldwide. Unauthorized Duplication Prohibited.

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