The Myth of the Super Fruit: Fact + Fiction
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There has been a prominent increase in marketing buzz and consumer interest around so-called 'super fruits.' These foods have gone from purely functional in their offering of taste and nutritional value to providing physiological wonders beyond the call of regular fruits. Even cosmetic companies are increasingly placing emphasis on the extreme mythical powers of various exotic fruits that make up the ingredients of their products. However, the myths of these fruits have become farther spread than the actual facts and little scientific evidence exists to support all the super claims.
These berries have become one of the more well-known 'victims of the 21st century' as a result of their high concentration of anti-oxidants (substances which are thought to prevent the development of cancer cells). As a result, health food shops have stocked shelves full of blueberry products and an increasing amount of blueberry food supplements have been developed with the promise that they will prevent cancer - some even claiming that they may cure it.
In truth, blueberries indeed have a high rating on the oxygen radical absorbance capacity (ORAC) scale - a method designed to compare the antioxidant content of different foodstuffs and supplements - but their antioxidant content ranks well below other common foods such as raisins, raspberries, grapes and even dark chocolate. Additionally, while the National Cancer Institute asserts that antioxidants may protect cells from damage caused by molecules known as "free radicals" -- which could lead to cancer -- it also acknowledges that this information comes from laboratory and animal research while studies into the effects on people have produced inconsistent results at best.
Grown in Southeast Asia, the mangosteen fruit has witnessed a history of use in folk medicine where it is used to treat skin infections and wounds as well as dysentery, urinary tract infections, gonorrhoea and even cancer. As a result, health companies are increasingly marketing the fruit's juice (often called Xango Juice) with the suggestion that it may be a cure for these various ailments.
Research suggests that the compounds found in mangosteen may contain some limited anti-inflammatory, antibacterial and antifungal effects while with regard to cancer treatment, studies have suggested that extracted and purified compounds from the fruit rinds (not the actual fruit) may be potentially useful for treating certain forms of cancer and preventing human leukemia. However, other studies proving the supposed life-saving benefits of this fruit are few and far between and one particular case report even suggested that consuming large amounts of mangosteen juice had adverse effects on health by increasing the acidity in the blood.
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