Weekly Wellness Tip – The Berry Wars

Berries against a white background

Goji or Acai?  Dried or Fresh?  Noni berry or Noni juice?  There seems to be a campaign promoting  a new miracle berry every month!  I eat raspberries, blueberries, and blackberries everyday; the blackberry is known for being the strongest antioxidant, and all three provide great sources of fiber, Vitamins C, manganese, and many other respective vitamins and minerals. I did not consider adding another berry in my repertoire until a dear friend of mine asked me if I knew anything about Goji berries.  In an effort to help us both, I did some research on these other exotic berries that are being marketed with health claims. Here is what I found –

  1. Goji Berry  – These small, red berries have been used by Chinese herbalists for millennia to help eyesight, boost immune function and promote longevity.  They are grown in Himalayan region of China and Tibet.  Goji berries are very rich in nutrients – iron, fiber, Vitamins A and C.  But all berries are good for you so does this stand out amongst the rest? So far, there have been few published clinical trials to validate its highly lauded benefits above other berries.  According to Cathy Wong ND, Alternative Medicine Expert, although goji berries have a long history of use in traditional Chinese medicine, there is currently a lack of research on the safety or effectiveness of goji berries in supplement form.  So buy fresh goji berries if this is your choice.
  2. Açai berry  – This berry from the Amazon region has long been known to be a good source of antioxidants and nutritious.  A team of Texas AgriLife Research scientists showed that the antioxidants in açai berries are readily absorbed by the human body.  According to the National Institute of Health (NIH) no studies substantiate the claim that acai supplements alone promote rapid weight loss. However, laboratory studies have shown that acai berries demonstrate anti-cancer and anti-inflammatory activity.  No researched information states açai is any better than other antioxidant-packed fruits and vegetables.
  3. Noni berry – Noni is grown on an evergreen shrub throughout the tropical regions of the Pacific Ocean, from Southeast Asia to Australia. Noni has a history of use as a topical preparation for joint pain and skin conditions. Today, noni fruit juice has folk uses as a general health tonic and for cancer and chronic conditions such as cardiovascular disease and diabetes.  In laboratory research at the National Institute of Health, noni has shown antioxidant, immune-stimulating, and tumor-fighting properties. These results suggest that noni may warrant further study for conditions such as cancer and cardiovascular disease. However, noni has not been well studied in people for any health condition.

I am not convinced I need to add any additional berries to my fruit bowl.  No berries are performing miracles but I will stick to my blackberries, raspberries, blueberries and occasionally strawberries (if I can get to them before my kids); when pomegranates are in season those are added (see In Season Wellness – Pomegranates), as well as cherries.  I always buy organic as blueberries and strawberries rank the highest in pesticide residue.

Feed the wellness in you!

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