Exotic Super Fruits-
Ellen Kamhi, Ph.D. R.N. THE NATURAL NURSE
Consuming fruits has always been one of the mainstays of healthy living. In recent years,
more fruits have become commercially available, which have previously been used
only in the local area where they grow. Many of these 'exotic' fruits have been touted to
be 'SuperFruits', although in their native land they are simply recognized as delicious and
healthy foods. As these 'new' fruits are introduced, they are often presented with a great
deal of marketing support and fanfare, to bring awareness of their traditional use to the
US marketplace. In addition, current scientific studies are being performed which are
elucidating the mechanism of action of how these fruits support health and wellness.
As a natural health care practitioner since 1964, I have always honored both traditional
knowledge and scientific verification. If you decide to try some of these newly introduced
Super Fruits, such as Acai, Mangosteen, Goji berry, Red Coffee fruit or the more well
recognized Pomegranate, review the labels of the products that you choose. If you are
choosing a liquid juice product, it should be in amber glass bottles, to avoid plastic
leaching into the product. Check the label for any added sweeteners or preservatives.
Some brands add artificial sweeteners such as sucralose or aspartame. Also, potassium
benzoate is sometimes added as a preservative. This potential toxin releases benzene,
a carcinogen, when in the presence of Vitamin C and anti-oxidants- exactly what these
juices are touted to be high in! Avoid products that are promoted through multi-level
marketing companies, since this artificially raises the price tag, but not the nutritional
The following is a brief description of several of the new 'SuperFruits' along with modern
scientific evidence of how they work:
Acai Berry has been used for thousands of years by the natives of the Brazilian rain
forests. They believe that acai has healing powers. Modern science has uncovered a vast
storehouse of nutrients in the acai berry, including a high concentration of antioxidants
such as Vitamin C and E, along with Vitamin B1 (Thiamin), Vitamin B2 (Riboflavin),
Vitamin B3 (Niacin), iron, potassium, phosphorus and calcium. The May 2006 issue of
the Journal Of Agricultural Food Chemistry identifies specific phenolic compounds in
Acai, as well as their ability to scavenge free radicals which destroy cell membranes.
Mangosteen is the apple-size fruit of a tall tropical tree. In Asia it is called "queen of the
fruit" due to its delicious flavor and traditional medicinal use. It contains a wide range
of antioxidants such as a polyhydroxy-xanthone derivative called mangostin. In volume
15 of Medical Principles and Practice, 2006, evidence is presented which shows both the
antioxidant and neuroprotective effects of Mangosteen fruit.
Goji Berry also known as wolfberry, or Lycium, is a small raisin size red fruit that
grows on a vine. Goji berries have been prized for their nutritional and healing value
in traditional Asian medicine for countless generations. Science has isolated at least
four unique polysaccharides, which are phytonutrient compounds that 'amplify signals'
between cells, and improve immune defense. In the June 2006 issue of the International
Journal Of Molecular Medicine, there is an explanation of how Goji protects cells by
increasing the energy available to the endoplasmic reticulum- the ‘energy engine’ of
Pomegranate is the fruit of trees that grow in the Middle East, and have been
traditionally recognized in ancient cultures to be a source of longevity and strength.
Pomegranate juice is a very rich source of Vitamin C, potassium, polyphenols and
a host of other beneficial antioxidants. Recent research supports the long held belief
that pomegranate juice is healthy for the heart. In the Feb 2006 issue of the Journal of
Agricultural Food Chemistry, there is a description of components found in pomegranate,
ellagitannins, and punicalagin, which suppress inflammatory cell signaling in colon
cancer cells. Another article in the Harvard Men’s Health Watch in April 2007 is called-
Pomegranates for the prostate and the heart: seeds of hope!
Red Coffee Berry is the bright red fruit that grows on coffee plants, which contains the
coffee bean. It has traditionally been discarded, while the bean is processed into coffee.
However, the red fruit is high in beneficial antioxidants and other nutritional substances,
which gives it one of the highest ORAC (oxygen radical absorbance capacity) values
found in nature. In the April 2006 issue of Life Science, red coffee berry is shown to
block free radical generation and protects cells from neurotoxicity.
Muscadine Grape(Vitis rotundifolia) is native to the southeastern United States,
found in the wild from Delaware to the Gulf of Mexico. Muscadine Grapes have a high
percentage of antioxidant compounds, such as resveratrol and anthocyanidins, with the
ability to act as powerful free radical scavengers. Since Muscadine grapes grow wild,
they are not sprayed with pesticides as are domestic grape varieties. The Nov 2005 issue
of the Journal of Agricultural Food Chemistry, verifies the anti-inflammatory properties
of muscadine grapes. Since inflammation is closely linked to virtually all disease
processes, anti-inflammatory foods are a great addition to the diet.