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    Archive for the ‘goji berries’ Category

    In The News: Exotically Expensive

    The Center for Science in the Public Interests’ Nutrition Action newsletter is one of my favorite publications.

    I received the January/February issue in the mail yesterday and wanted to share a “right on!” tidbit on exotic juices from a larger feature article on health claims and juice.

    The article begins by asking, want to make a million dollars?”

    It then instructs readers to “find an exotic fruit,” “turn it into juice,” attribute extraordinary healing powers” to it, and then “get Whole Foods to carry it and charge what the market will bear.

    This last point is expanded upon even further.

    “Don’t be shy. Start with four or five times what regular juices go for,” they advise.

    The article makes the excellent point that the antioxidants and phytochemicals billed so highly in these juices can be found in those of more conventional (and less expensive!) fruits’.

    Yes, I am aware that acai juice contains the highest antioxidant levels of any fruit.

    That alone, however, is not necessarily a testament to it being “healthier” or “better”.

    CSPI took a look at the research backing up these products and found that with both acai and goji berry juice, “not a single study published has looked at whether people who drink it are any healthier than people who don’t.

    As far as pomegranate juice is concerned, they refer to a preliminary study done by the University of California in Los Angeles in which 46 men consumed 8 ounces of pomegranate juice for three years.

    End result? 38 of them had their PSA (prostate specific antigen) levels — rising levels “can indicate a growing tumor” — slowed down.

    However, the folks at CSPI are quick to point out that “the study didn’t include a placebo group.” Oops!

    The article does not mention noni juice, another supposedly miraculous beverage that supposedly helps with everything from impotence to arthritis to Alzheimer’s, if you believe the press releases.

    No need to fork over $40 for a 32 ounce bottle, though, since no studies have shown any health benefits from drinking noni juice.

    Besides, I remember trying noni juice several years back and thinking I had accidentally poured myself a glass of red wine vinegar. It’s absolutely repulsive.

    If it is health benefits you seek, you’re better off biting into a real piece of fruit (anything from a peach to a blueberry to a kiwi or even a handful of goji berries — your choice!) than downing most store-bought juices.

    No matter how exotic, many contain added sugars.

    And, while some foods are certainly healthier than others (and offer unique combinations of key nutrients), I don’t believe in the concept of “miracle” foods.


    All-Star of the Day: Goji Berry

    After hundreds of years as a Tibetan superstar, the goji berry is being rediscovered on this side of the Atlantic Ocean.

    Tasting like the lovechild of a raisin and a dried cranberry, the Tibetan goji berry – a member of the same plant as tomatoes and potatoes — boasts a wealth of antioxidants and nutrients.

    For instance, a quarter cup of this wonder fruit provides:

    90 calories

    4 grams of fiber

    4 grams of protein

    180% Vitamin A

    30% Vitamin C

    9% calcium

    15% iron


    Make sure you buy shade-dried goji berries. The sun-dried variety, while still healthy, offers a lower amount of nutrients.

    Apart from containing several carotenoids (the same antioxidants found in carrots and winter squash), recent studies in Japan concluded that goji berries contain antioxidants that help inhibit the division of cancer cells.

    Additionally, a 1994 study published in the Chinese Journal of Oncology found that the addition of goji berries to the diet of cancer patients was linked to better response to treatment.

    As healthy as these berries are, some goji berry extract manufacturers are overzealous in their advertising and claim consumption of this fruit is basically the equivalent to drinking a liter of water from the fountain of youth. Proponents also claim goji berries cure a variety of illnesses, which is plain old false advertising.

    Remember that eating the actual food delivers more benefits than an extract. Since supplements are not regulated, they could potentially not contain any of what is advertised on the label.

    It is also worth nothing that as healthy as goji berries are, their benefits are best seen in diets already rich in whole, natural foods. Munching on a quarter cup of goji berries a day and then eating pizza, ice cream, potato chips, and soda will pretty much cancel their effect.


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