Health Benefits of 13 Superfruits
You’ve heard of Superfoods, but… Superfruits?
Not every fruit qualifies.
Those deemed “super” by nutrition scientists are packed with antioxidants, fiber, vitamins and minerals, and other nutrients that can help you live longer, look better, and even prevent disease.
Below are the ones in Liquid BioCell Life:
The Romans were the first to record medicinal uses of the strawberry, and the practice spread to Greece.
The berries were believed to be a cure for gout and helpful for digestive problems.
During the 16th and 17th centuries, strawberries were cultivated and considered to be part of a healthy diet.
Thomas Culpeper, a medieval herbalist, noted that strawberries were “singularly good for the healing of many ills,” and while the leaves were the primary plant part used in medicinal preparations, Carl Linnaeus recorded and reportedly proved the efficacy of the berries as a treatment for rheumatic gout.
The leaves are mildly diuretic and astringent due to their high tannin content, and have been used as a laxative. The leaves, fruit, crowns, and roots were used in the preparations of ointments, medicinal teas, and syrups.
The pulp and juice of the berry were also used in cosmetic preparations, including treatments for teeth whitening, skin whitening, and healing sunburns.
Today a tea prepared from the leaves is used to treat diarrhea and dysentery. Strawberries are an excellent source of vitamin C and manganese. They are a good source of dietary fiber and folate. Strawberries also provide potassium, magnesium, vitamin K, vitamin B6, phosphorus, niacin calcium, and thiamin.
Recent animal studies have shown a potential role of strawberry consumption in improving the aging process, reducing oxidative damage, and improving antioxidant defense.
Other recent in vivo studies have shown positive dietary polyphenol effects including prevention of gastric cancer progression, reduction of inflammation, improvement of plasma lipid profile, reduction of myocardial infarction risk, and increased plasma antioxidant capacity.
Human studies examining polyphenol supplementation have shown that the consumption of 300 g of fresh strawberries significantly enhanced the total antioxidant capacity and serum vitamin C concentration in young, healthy patients.
One human study showed that an elevated anthocyanin intake, such as the anthocyanins present in strawberries, reduced the risk of myocardial infarction in young and middle-aged women.
Another human study with young, healthy volunteers consuming 500 g of strawberries daily for one month showed a reduction in triglyceride levels, LDL cholesterol, and total cholesterol. The berry’s anthocyanin and dietary fiber content were thought to contribute to this result.
A similar, placebo-controlled study examined the effect of freeze-dried strawberry powder in drink form on overweight adults and showed a similar trend toward the reduction of LDL cholesterol.
For centuries, blueberries were gathered from the forests and the bogs by Native Americans and consumed fresh and also preserved.
The Northeast Native American tribes revered blueberries and much folklore developed around them.
The blossom end of each berry, the calyx, forms the shape of a perfect five-pointed star; the elders of the tribe would tell of how the Great Spirit sent “star berries” to relieve the children’s hunger during a famine.
Parts of the blueberry plant were also used as medicine. A tea made from the leaves of the plant was thought to be good for the blood. Blueberry juice was used to treat coughs.
Blueberry tea was often prescribed as a muscle relaxant or anti-spasmodic, especially for women during childbirth. Berries were also boiled down into a thick syrup which was used to treat the coughs and sore throat caused by tuberculosis.
Blueberries are among the most nutrient-dense berries. Blueberries an excellent source of several important nutrients: fiber, vitamin C, vitamin K, and manganese. They also contain smaller amounts of various other nutrients.
Blueberries have the highest antioxidant capacity of all commonly consumed fruits and vegetables. Flavonoids appear to be the major antioxidant compounds.
Several studies have shown that blueberries and blueberry juice can protect against DNA damage, a leading driver of aging and cancer. The antioxidants in blueberries have been shown to protect LDL lipoproteins (the “bad” cholesterol) from oxidative damage, a crucial step in the pathway towards heart disease.
Regular blueberry intake has been shown to lower blood pressure in numerous studies. There is some evidence that regular blueberry consumption can help prevent heart attacks.
The antioxidants in blueberries seem to have benefits for the brain, helping to improve brain function and delaying age-related decline.
Several studies have shown that blueberries have anti-diabetic effects, helping to improve insulin sensitivity. Several studies have also shown that blueberries have anti-diabetic effects, helping to improve insulin sensitivity and lower blood sugar levels.
Like cranberries, blueberries contain substances that can prevent certain bacteria from binding to the wall of the urinary bladder. This may be useful in preventing urinary tract infections.
Blueberries may also help reduce muscle damage after strenuous exercise. Blueberry supplementation may reduce the damage that occurs at the molecular level, minimizing soreness and reduction in muscle performance.
Scully, Virginia. A Treasury of American Indian Herbs – Their Lore and Their Use for Food, Drugs, and Medicine. New York: Crown Publishers, Inc. 1970
Both the Arabic name for pomegranate (rumman) and the Hebrew name (rimmon) are reported to originate as “fruit of paradise,” which provides abundant demonstration of its appreciation in these cultures.
In startling contrast, it was considered by the Greeks to be the “fruit of the dead” and provided sustenance to the residents of Hades. In Zoroastrianism, the pomegranate symbolizes both fecundity and immortality, and is an emblem of prosperity.
Pomegranate has long been associated with love and was one of the symbols of the love goddess Aphrodite.
It is easy to imagine that the seediness of the pomegranate encouraged association with fertility. Perhaps this gave rise to the Greek myth in which Persephone must spend 6 months in the underworld after Hades forced her to eat six pomegranate seeds, but her return is celebrated with the coming of spring.
According to Eber’s papyrus (ca. 1550 BCE), the ancient Egyptians used tannin-rich pomegranate root extracts for the riddance of tapeworms. Hippocrates (400 BCE) used pomegranate extractions for a wide variety of ailments, such as a plaster to reduce skin and eye inflammation, and as an aid to digestion.
No discussion of ancient medical applications of plants is complete without mention of Dioscorides (40–90 CE), who indicates: “All sorts of pommegranats are of a pleasant taste and good for ye stomach” and further suggests the juice for “… ulcers, and for ye paines of ye eares, and for the griefs in ye nosthrills”.
Other traditional uses of pomegranate products have included treatments for contraception, snakebite, diabetes, and leprosy.
Extracts of tannins (bark, leaves, immature fruit) have been used to halt diarrhea and hemorrhage, whereas dried, crushed flower buds are made into a tea as remedy for bronchitis. In Mexico, extracts of the flowers are used as a gargle to relieve mouth and throat inflammation.
Interestingly, many of these uses are at least somewhat supported by recent scientific studies.
Presumably because of its association as the “fruit of love” rather than empirical observation, the pomegranate has been considered a love potion in some cultures. The prophet Mohammed advised, “Eat the pomegranate, for it purges the system of envy and hatred.”
Today, pomegranate juice has been shown to contain polyphenol antioxidants (primarily ellagic acid and punicalagin) that may lower risk of heart disease and may slow cancer progress.
The antioxidant content of pomegranate juice is among the highest of any foods. Pomegranates really shine in their wealth of powerful plant compounds, some of which have potent medicinal properties.
Pomegranates pack two unique substances that are responsible for most of their health benefits: punicalagins and punicic acid.
Punicalagins are extremely potent antioxidants found in pomegranate juice and peel. They’re so powerful that pomegranate juice has been found to have three times the antioxidant activity of red wine and green tea.
Punicic acid, found in pomegranate seed oil, is the main fatty acid in the arils. It’s a type of conjugated linoleic acid with potent biological effects.
Pomegranates have potent anti-inflammatory properties, which are largely mediated by the antioxidant properties of the punicalagins. Test-tube studies have shown that they can reduce inflammatory activity in the digestive tract, as well as in breast cancer and colon cancer cells.
One 12-week study in people with diabetes found that 1.1 cups (250 ml) of pomegranate juice per day lowered the inflammatory markers CRP and interleukin-6 by 32% and 30%, respectively. Pomegranate extract may inhibit the reproduction of breast cancer cells — even killing some of them.
In one study, people with hypertension had a significant reduction in blood pressure after consuming 5 ounces (150 ml) of pomegranate juice daily for two weeks. Other studies have found similar effects, especially for systolic blood pressure, which is the higher number in a blood pressure reading.
Given that the plant compounds in pomegranate have anti-inflammatory effects, it makes sense that they could help treat arthritis. Interestingly, laboratory studies suggest that pomegranate extract can block enzymes that are known to damage joints in people with osteoarthritis.
Punicic acid, the main fatty acid in pomegranate, may help protect against several steps in the heart disease process.
A 4-week study in 51 people with high triglyceride levels showed that 800 mg of pomegranate seed oil per day significantly lowered triglycerides and improved the triglyceride-HDL ratio.Another study looked at the effects of pomegranate juice in people with type 2 diabetes and high cholesterol. They noted significant reductions in “bad” LDL cholesterol, as well as other improvements.
Pomegranate juice has also been shown — in both animal and human studies — to protect LDL cholesterol particles from oxidation, one of the key steps in the pathway towards heart disease. Finally, one research analysis concluded that pomegranate juice reduces high blood pressure, which is a major risk factor for heart disease.
Pomegranate juice has been shown to help increase blood flow and erectile response in rabbits. In a study in 53 men with erectile dysfunction, pomegranate appeared to have some benefit.
There is some evidence that pomegranate can improve memory. One study in surgical patients found that 2 grams of pomegranate extract prevented deficits in memory after surgery.
Another study in 28 older adults with memory complaints found that 8 ounces (237 ml) of pomegranate juice per day significantly improved markers of verbal and visual memory. Studies in mice also suggest that pomegranate may help fight Alzheimer’s disease.
Pomegranate is rich in dietary nitrates, which have been shown to improve exercise performance.
A study in 19 athletes running on a treadmill showed that one gram of pomegranate extract 30 minutes before exercise significantly enhanced blood flow, delaying the onset of fatigue and increasing exercise efficiency.
Noni was first discovered and used by man long before recorded history in Southeast Asia and the subcontinent, when ancient Indian medicine men began examining the natural world to find plants good not only for food, but to treat disease and otherwise benefit their health.
They developed a medical system of using plants and natural treatments to influence their health and called it Ayurveda, Sanskrit for “THE SCIENCE OF LIFE”.
A highly advanced system of natural medicine, Ayurveda is still practiced today. Noni was considered a sacred plant in Ayurveda and is mentioned in ancient texts as Ashyuka, which is Sanskrit for “longevity.”
Noni was noted to be a balancing agent, stabilizing the body in perfect health. In traditional use, noni has been used both for medicinal purposes and food.
The history of noni tells us about the more widely known traditional uses and medicinal uses of the different parts of noni have been used to help heal wounds, to treat infections and also to treat diabetes, fevers, skin problems, among others.
Over 40 different medicinal remedies can be identified by researchers that were used traditionally by different cultures. Within certain South Pacific islands, many stories have been passed down about the history of noni, and the traditional and medicinal uses.
Over the past decade, Noni juice has gained popularity as an alternative medicine. Modern day scientific and medical communities have continued to study the plants and understand the healthful properties that were known and appreciated by the ancient healers.
Today, millions the world over are discovering the health balancing properties of this once hidden island secret. Various studies suggest that Noni juice helps alleviate pain and reduce joint destruction implicated in arthritis due to its analgesic properties.
If you lead a healthy lifestyle and drink Noni juice daily, you can reduce arthritis pain to the minimum. Studies have shown that Noni juice can reduce uric acid concentration in the blood, thereby lowering the risk of gout.
For thousands of years, Noni juice has been used to combat general body weakness, boost energy levels and improve the overall physical performance of the body.
Noni juice is a powerhouse of antioxidants and is packed with Vitamin C and selenium, which helps fight free radicals, preserve skin elasticity and reverse the adverse effects of aging. It has antibacterial and antifungal properties, and can thus also help treat scalp irritation.
Noni juice contains a whole slew of cancer-fighting nutrients. According to the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health, Noni has shown immune-stimulating and tumor-fighting properties.
The National Cancer Institute is funding preliminary research on Noni for breast cancer prevention and treatment. A strengthened immune system is yet another benefit of noni juice.
Scopoletin present in noni juice possesses anti-bacterial, anti-inflammatory, antifungal and anti-histamine properties that boost the immune defense mechanism of the body. Noni juice helps manage stress and reduces the impact of stress on cognitive function.
Studies suggest that Noni juice has antiviral properties and helps get rid of cough, fever and body ache.
Jujubae Fructus, the fruit of Ziziphus jujuba Mill. (Rhamnaceae), also known as jujube, or Chinese date, or red date, has been widely used as food and Chinese herbal medicine for over 3,000 years.
In the ancient Chinese book on herbal medicine Huangdi Neijing (475-221 BC), jujube was described as one of the five most valuable fruits in China.
In Shennong Bencao Jing (300 BC-200 AD), an earlier book recoding medicinal herbs, jujube was considered as one of the superior herbal medicines that prolonged our life-span by nourishing blood, improving quality of sleep, and regulating the digestive system.
Jujubes were traditionally used in Chinese medicine to treat sleep troubles like Insomnia. Both the fruit and the seeds are rich in flavonoids- saponins and polysaccharides.
Saponin has been touted as a natural sleep promoter by several experts in the past. Its sedative quality helps induce sleep by lending soothing effect on the entire nervous system.
According to Chinese medicinal theory, jujube is considered as a medicinal herb that calms the mind and relieves mental tension. Clinically, jujube is commonly prescribed, either as a single herb or in tranquilizing formulae combined with other herbal medicines, for the treatment of insomnia and forgetfulness.
The high quantum of fiber in jujube helps regulate bowel movements and digestion.
Jujube has been proven to have calming effects on the brain and nervous system. It helps relieve anxiety as well.
The sedative effects of jujube fruit or jujube oil extract is also known to work on hormonal levels and induce a calm, relaxed sensation through your mind and body.
Jujubes are a powerhouse of essential vitamins and antioxidants. They are particularly very rich in vitamin C.
Vitamin C helps vitalizing skin, fights free radicals and strengthens the immunity by keeping diseases at bay.
Jujubes have low salt content and high potassium content, and both of these qualities about the fruit ensures that your blood pressure levels are in check. Potassium is helpful for keeping the blood vessels relaxed.
When blood vessels are relaxed, there is smoother blood flow and the pressure is apt. A rich source of iron and phosphorous, jujubes help regulate blood circulation as well.
Low iron content in your blood, or anemia, may lead to muscle weakness, fatigue, indigestion, light-headedness, and cognitive problems.
Jujube not only increases blood flow but also ensures smoother blood circulation. Consuming jujubes may help you have stronger bones too.
Jujubes are loaded with like calcium, phosphorous, and iron which helps improves bone strength. Those who are suffering from osteoporosis and other bone degrading conditions must consume the sweet and tarty fruit to reverse the effect or manage the condition better.
Maqui berry (Aristotelia Chilensis) is a deep purple berry that thrives in the harsh climate in the Patagonia region, one of the cleanest places on this planet.
Maqui berry has been traditionally consumed by the Mapuche Indians for a variety of conditions such as sore throat, diarrhea, ulcers, hemorrhoids, birth delivery, fever, tumors and other ailments.
During the winter months, the Mapuche Indians consume dried maqui fruits to boost their immune system for prevention of cold and flu, and to increase body warmth.
The Mapuche Indian is the only unconquered Indian in the entire American continents. The Incas and Spaniard tried for many centuries without success.
According to a Spanish document recorded in the 18th centuries, the Mapuche warrior drank a fermented beverage made from maqui berry called “Chicha” several times daily, which may have contributed to the extraordinary strength and stamina that the warriors exhibited.
The benefits of maqui berry include extraordinary antioxidant protection, natural COX-2 inhibition, neutralization of toxic free radicals and protection of cells against oxidation, support of healthy inflammatory response, support of healthy immune response, promotion of healthy aging, promotion of healthy cholesterol, promotion of eye health, and support of healthy glucose balance.
Maqui berry is the highest known antioxidant superfruit, containing a high concentration of polyphenols and anthocyanins. Anthocyanins are the most powerful antioxidant compounds with the strongest benefits towards whole health, exhibiting health support of inflammation-based issues.
Benefits of Anthocyanins include neutralizing enzymes that can destroy connective tissues, promotes cardiovascular health by preventing oxidation of low-density lipoproteins (LDL), protects blood vessel walls from oxidative damage, and supports a healthy blood glucose level.
Anthocyanins in Maqui Berry are truly unique as 80% of all anthocyanins in Maqui Berry are delphinidin, the most important anthocyanidins found in dark berries. Delphinidin is reported to exert superior antioxidant and anti-inflammatory effects.
Researchers have shown that the activation of PPAR gamma leads to the inhibition of NFkappaB, reduction of COX-2 enzyme & prostaglandin level.
In a research published in Boletín Latinoamericano y del Caribe de Plantas Medicinales y Aromáticas (2011), Maqui berry juice exhibits strong anti-inflammatory properties by inhibiting NFκB, a key regulator of our immune and inflammatory response system.
In addition, maqui berry juice reduces the COX-2 expression, an enzyme responsible for inflammation and pain. Ca2+ signals regulate the expression of cytokines that are critical for immune responses. Impaired Ca2+ signaling is linked to several inherited immunodeficiency diseases.
In a research published on Cell Biochemistry Biophysics (2013), Delphinidin in maqui berry is shown to activate NFAT, induces IL-2 and IFN-γ production through SOCE-mediated Ca2+ signaling.
The study suggests that delphinidin in maqui berry exerts immunostimulatory effects. In a research published on J Agric Food Chem. 2002 Dec 18, Maqui Berry juice has higher polyphenol content and scores better for total free radical trapping potential and total antioxidant reactivity in vitro antioxidant capacity tests, when compared to different commercial berries.
In addition, maqui berry juice is effective in inhibiting copper-induced LDL oxidation, suggesting the anti-atherogenic properties. Anthocyanins are polyphenols are known for prevention or lowering the risk of cardiovascular disease, diabetes mellitus (DM), arthritis and cancer.
Delphinidin are found in research to inhibit Na+-dependent glucose transport, and may be helpful in promoting healthy glucose balance.
The apple is one of the oldest varieties in existence; a research study states that humans have enjoyed apples ever since at least 6500 B.C. The fruit was among the favorite lists of Ancient Greeks and Romans.
In Norse tradition, a more positive guise was given to the fruit i.e., a magic apple was said to keep people youthful eternally.
American settlers brought apple trees and seeds from England in the 1600s. The apple has been recognized as a valuable food; it is the second most popular fresh fruit consumed by Americans.
Its uses in traditional medicine have been varied, including treatment of cancer, diabetes, dysentery, constipation, fever, heart ailments, scurvy, and warts. Apples are also said to be effective in cleaning the teeth.
Besides supplying key nutrients, several lines of evidence suggest that apples and apple products possess a wide range of biological activities that may contribute to beneficial health effects.
Increasing evidence from in vitro, in vivo, and epidemiological studies suggest that flavonoids found in apples may be protective against cancer, cardiovascular disease, diabetes, asthma, obesity, and other chronic diseases.
It has been reported that of all the flavonoid sources, apple intake was inversely associated with the occurrence of all cancers combined (especially lung cancer), asthma, type 2 diabetes, thrombotic stroke, total mortality, and ischemic heart disease.
In addition, flavonoid intake was associated with a lower mortality; apples were one of the main dietary sources that showed the strongest association with decreased mortality. Beneficial health effects can be attributed to the phytochemicals and dietary fiber found in apples.
Apples are low in calories, fat, and sodium, which are all positive contributors to cardiovascular health. Raw apples are a good source of dietary fiber.
Apples contain soluble and insoluble fiber, two-thirds of which are found in the peel. Soluble fiber, such as pectin, helps lower cholesterol levels and normalize blood glucose and insulin levels.
Pectin has also been used to treat diarrhea. Insoluble fiber promotes bowel regularity and helps move food quickly through the digestive tract; it is therefore effective in the treatment of constipation, diverticulosis, and some types of cancer.
The phytochemicals in apples possess strong antioxidant activity. It is this antioxidant activity, along with the effects of the fiber content, that influence multiple mechanisms relevant for cancer prevention and cardiovascular protection.
In cancer prevention, these include antimutagenic activity, modulation of carcinogen metabolism, antioxidant activity, anti-inflammatory mechanisms, modulation of signal transduction pathways, antiproliferative activity, and apotosis-inducing activity.
In cardiovascular protection, it is likely that the relevant mechanisms include decreasing lipid oxidation, lowering cholesterol, improving blood glucose and lipid profiles, reducing risk of type 2 diabetes, and beneficial effects on obesity.
One study compared 8,029 patients with incidences of oral, pharyngeal, esophageal, laryngeal, colorectal, breast, ovarian, and prostate cancer to 6,629 patients without cancer.
Consumption of 1 or more apples per day was inversely associated with the risk of cancer when compared with less than 1 apple per day. Similarly, an inverse relationship between apple consumption and the risk of cardiovascular disease has been illustrated in various human studies.
Mangosteen is an evergreen tree native to Southeast Asian countries, including India, Myanmar, Malaysia, Philippines, Sri Lanka, and Thailand. Its reddish to dark purple fruit, with white juicy edible pulp, is considered one of the best tasting tropical fruits.
Mangosteen has a long history of medicinal use to treat skin infections, wounds, and dysentery; in ayurveda, it is used for inflammation, diarrhea, and cholera.
Mangosteen is an antioxidant-rich fruit, particularly known for the presence of xanthones in its white pulp. Xanthones are polyphenols, which have anti-inflammatory and anti-carcinogenic properties, according to research done by The Ohio State University, Columbus, US.
The xanthones inhibit cell growth in human colon cancer and as per a research published in the Journal of Ethnopharmacology, they exhibit the potential to be developed as agents to prevent cancer or can be used in combination with anti-cancer drugs for beneficial effects.
The fruit is also rich in vitamins and minerals such as vitamin A, vitamin B6, thiamin, niacin, riboflavin, folate, vitamin C, potassium, and zinc as per the USDA National Nutrient Database. Other minerals such as calcium, magnesium, sodium, phosphorus, carotene, and cryptoxanthin are also found in it.
The mangosteen fruit and rind are effective in providing relief from stomach disorders such as diarrhea and dysentery. A traditional remedy for diarrhea is steeping the fruit rind in water overnight.
This decoction is given to adults and children who have chronic diarrhea. For relief from dysentery, the dried fruit and rind is powdered and taken.
It has been used as an anti-inflammatory agent for many years in Southeast Asian countries.
The extracts of mangosteen have anti-allergy and anti-inflammatory properties and they inhibit the release of histamine and prostaglandin which are associated with inflammation in the body. A study by Dr. Fabiola Gutierrez-Orozco, The Ohio State University, Columbus, confirms this property.
The anti-inflammatory, anti-bacterial, anti-fungal, anti-allergy, and anti-oxidant properties of mangosteen help in reducing the risk of various conditions such as skin inflammation, skin aging, eczema, allergies, and bacterial infections.
Research has been carried out to ascertain the various benefits of this fruit on the skin. A study cited in the Food and Chemical Toxicology journal suggests that mangosteen has properties which can prevent skin cancer.
Mangosteen is rich in nutrients, minerals, vitamins, and xanthones which help in boosting the immune system. These nutrients protect the body from ailments that weaken the immune system.
Mangosteens are known to contain powerful antioxidants, which are useful to the immune system and the entire body.
These antioxidants contain cell boosters that are referred to as xanthones, which contain various properties that have medicinal value. This is the reason why it is termed a healing fruit and can be used to reverse the effects of diseases.
Dr. Zhuohong Xie et al., International Chemistry Testing, Massachusetts, in a study shows the daily consumption of mangosteen drink improves antioxidant levels in the body. Mangosteen, with its anti-bacterial and anti-inflammatory properties, is beneficial as a medicinal drink and for quick healing of wounds.
The leaves and bark of the tree can be mixed with other medicinal herbs and applied to the wounds for a faster recovery. The medicinal drink can be prepared by boiling the leaves and the bark of the tree.
Mangosteen root helps in regulating the menstrual cycle in women. It also eases the symptoms that often occur before menstruation and make it tough for women to carry out their routine.
The bark and leaves of the mangosteen tree exhibit astringent properties and are beneficial in curing thrush or aphtha, which is a small, shallow sore at the base of the gums.
Mangosteens are helpful in reducing the risk of stroke or myocardial infarction. Findings of a study published in the Journal of Biochemical and Molecular Toxicology indicate the cardioprotective effect of mangosteen on antioxidant tissue defense system and lipid peroxidation during a stroke.
Dr. Dónal O’Mathuna, The Ohio State University, US, in his book Alternative Medicine: The Christian Handbook writes about the use of mangosteen to cure diabetes, as it is effective in managing and maintaining blood sugar levels in the body.
Incorporating mangosteen in the diet may be effective in weight loss. The various nutrients found in this tropical fruit also ensure good health and well-being.
Historically, cranberries have been used by Native Americans as a treatment for bladder and kidney diseases. Early settlers from England used them to treat poor appetite, stomach complaints, blood disorders, and scurvy.
Wampanoag People across southeastern Massachusetts have enjoyed the annual harvest of sasumuneash – wild cranberries – for 12,000 years. Medicine men, or powwows, used cranberries in traditional healing rituals to fight fever, swelling, and even seasickness.
Harnessing the nutritional power of the fruit—cranberries are extremely high in antioxidants and are thought to help prevent heart disease—Iroquois and Chippewa used cranberries for an assortment of medicinal purposes: as “blood purifiers,” as a laxative, and for treating fever, stomach cramps, and a slew of childbirth-related injuries.
One of the more intriguing ways the Indians prepared cranberries was in a mixture called pemmican—sort of like a modern-day energy bar. They would pound cranberries into a mixture of equal parts ground dried deer meat and fat tallow, then store the mixture in animal skin pouches.
“The fat preserves it, as does the acidity in the fruit, which lowers the pH and helps resist bacteria,” says food historian Ken Albala, of University of the Pacific. The pemmican would last for months and could be eaten on long journeys as a reliable source of protein and fat.
Cranberries are a good source of vitamin C, fiber, and vitamin E. Some evidence suggests that the polyphenols in cranberries may reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease (CVD).
It does this by preventing platelet build-up and reducing blood pressure, through anti-inflammatory mechanisms. Research has shown that the nutrients in cranberries can help slow tumor progression, and that they can have a positive impact on prostate, liver, breast, ovarian, and colon cancers.
The proanthocyanidins in cranberries may also benefit oral health. They do this by preventing bacteria from binding to teeth, according to researchers at the Center for Oral Biology and Eastman Department of Dentistry at the University of Rochester Medical Center.
Cranberries may also be beneficial in preventing gum disease.
Many centuries ago, long before there was any scientific evidence of the medicinal benefits of grapes, people were extolling their virtues as a cure for all sorts of ailments.
The ancient Egyptians used them to treat asthma, for example. To the ancient Greeks and Romans, grapes were a gift from the gods.
Grape leaves were being used by European folk healers to treat sore throats, skin and eye infections and the pain of hemorrhoids, while raisins were used to treat thirst and constipation.
While some of the elixirs and other concoctions using grapes created over the ages may today sound ridiculous, we now know that there was real merit in some of the early treatment methods.
Grapes have been studied extensively, possibly more than any other fruit. More than 4,000 medical research studies have been published in the last century and a half.
The focus of this research has been on the beneficial role grapes can play in delaying the signs of aging and preventing major age-associated health problems, including inflammation, heart disease, and several types of cancer.
Grapes are beneficial to the kidneys, lungs, liver, spleen, and stomach. They are a good source of energy and can help stabilize body fluids and cleanse the body of toxins.
They are useful for treating a wide variety of symptoms, including thirst, constipation, gastritis, menopausal hot flashes, difficulty urinating, edema and dry cough. Grape juice is used as a treatment for liver disorders such as jaundice and hepatitis.
Grapes are also used to treat inflammations of the throat, mouth, gums, and eyes. The ongoing research exploring the role that grapes might play in preventing Alzheimer’s disease, heart disease, and cancer looks promising.
Grapes are high in several important nutrients. They contain many important vitamins and minerals, and are a good source for vitamins C and K.
Grapes are high in a number of powerful antioxidant compounds. In fact, over 1,600 beneficial plant compounds that may protect against chronic health conditions, such as diabetes, cancer and heart disease have been identified in this fruit.
Resveratrol, one of the compounds found in this fruit, has been well-studied in terms of cancer prevention and treatment. The unique combination of plant compounds found in grapes may be responsible for their anti-cancer benefits.
In addition to resveratrol, grapes also contain quercetin, anthocyanins and catechins — all of which may have beneficial effects against cancer. Grape extracts have been shown to block the growth and spread of human colon cancer cells in test-tube studies.
Additionally, one study in 30 people over the age of 50 showed that eating 1 pound (450 grams) of grapes per day for two weeks decreased markers of colon cancer risk. Studies have also found that grape extracts block the growth and spread of breast cancer cells, both in laboratory and mouse models.
Compounds found in grapes may help protect against high cholesterol levels by decreasing cholesterol absorption. In one study in 69 people with high cholesterol, eating three cups (500 grams) of red grapes a day for eight weeks was shown to lower total and “bad” LDL cholesterol.
Compounds found in grapes may even decrease blood sugar levels. In a 16-week study in 38 men, those who took 20 grams of grape extract per day experienced decreased blood sugar levels, compared to a control group.
Additionally, resveratrol has been shown to increase insulin sensitivity, which may improve your body’s ability to use glucose and hence lower blood sugar levels. Resveratrol also increases the number of glucose receptors on cell membranes, which may have a beneficial effect on blood sugar.
The plant chemicals found in grapes may protect against common eye diseases. In one study, mice fed a diet supplemented with grapes showed fewer signs of damage to the retina and had better retinal function compared with mice who were not fed the fruit.
In a test-tube study, resveratrol was found to protect retinal cells in the human eye from ultraviolet A light. This may lower the risk of developing age-related macular degeneration (AMD), a common eye disease.
According to a review study, resveratrol may also help protect against glaucoma, cataract and diabetic eye disease. Additionally, grapes contain the antioxidants lutein and zeaxanthin.
Several studies have demonstrated that these compounds help protect the eyes from damage from blue light. Eating grapes may also benefit your brain health and boost your memory.
In a 12- week study in 111 healthy older adults, 250 mg of a grape supplement per day significantly improved scores on a cognitive test measuring attention, memory and language compared to baseline values. Another study in healthy young adults showed that drinking about 8 ounces (230 ml) of grape juice improved both the speed of memory-related skills and mood 20 minutes after consumption.
Studies in rats have shown that resveratrol improved learning, memory and mood when taken for 4 weeks. Additionally, the rats’ brains showed signs of increased growth and blood flow.
Resveratrol may also help protect against Alzheimer’s disease, though studies in humans are needed to confirm this. Grapes contain many minerals necessary for bone health, including calcium, magnesium, potassium, phosphorus, manganese and vitamin K.
Though studies in rats have shown that resveratrol improved bone density, these results have not been confirmed in humans. In one study, rats fed freeze-dried grape powder for 8 weeks had better bone absorption and retention of calcium versus rats that did not receive the powder.
Numerous compounds in grapes have been shown to protect against and fight bacterial and viral infections. Grapes are a good source of vitamin C, which is well known for its beneficial impact on your immune system.
Grape skin extract has been shown to protect against the flu virus in test-tube studies. Additionally, compounds in grapes stopped the herpes virus, chicken pox and yeast infections from spreading in test-tube studies.
Resveratrol may also protect against foodborne illnesses. When added to different types of food, it was shown to prevent the growth of harmful bacteria, such as E. Coli.
Plant compounds found in grapes may affect aging and lifespan. Resveratrol has been shown to lengthen lifespan in a variety of animal species.
This compound stimulates a family of proteins called sirtuins, which have been linked to longevity. One of the genes that resveratrol activates is the SirT1 gene.
This is the same gene activated by low-calorie diets, which has been linked to longer lifespans in animal studies. Resveratrol also affects several other genes associated with aging and longevity.
It has also been linked to powerful anti-inflammatory properties. In a study in 24 men with metabolic syndrome — a risk factor for heart disease — a grape powder extract equivalent to approximately 1.5 cups (252 grams) of fresh grapes increased the number of anti-inflammatory compounds in their blood.
Similarly, another study in 75 people with heart disease found that taking grape powder extract increased levels of anti-inflammatory compounds, compared to a control group. A study in rats with inflammatory bowel disease showed that grape juice improved not only signs of the disease but also increased blood levels of anti-inflammatory compounds.
The acai berry has been around for thousands of years and not until the 1990’s was it introduced to the western world. The acai berry was found to possess tremendous health properties.
The acai berry was first used by the tribes of the Amazon jungle as a cure for various ailments. It is estimated that the indigenous tribes people routinely use up to 2,000 of the 3,000 known rainforest fruits for medicinal purposes.
The acai berry was discovered to have natural antioxidant properties, as well as being a natural cholesterol controller. When eaten, it helps reduce the bad cholesterol in our blood and increases the good cholesterol.
The tribes of the Amazon knew of these properties and found out that it helped build the immune system, fight infection, protect the heart, and control prostate enlargement (nature’s viagra). It was a great energy food for the tribes-people.
The acai berry, which is a palm fruit, was traditionally pulped to make wine that was rich in minerals. The acai berry was also discovered to fight schistosomosis (also as snail fever and bilharzia), which is a disease caused by parasitic flatworms called schistosomes and transmitted by snails.
The acai berry is also used to produce an antibiotic that helps to fight against ‘Staphylococcus aureus,’ a common infection contracted mainly in hospitals. A berry so useful but only known to the traditional tribesmen and women of the Amazon, a lost secret.
Acai berries are rich in fatty acids, especially oleic, palmitic, and linoleic acids. Although acai berries contain very little total protein, they do contain 19 amino acids, as well as several sterols, including campesterol, stigmasterol, and beta-sitosterol.
The phytochemicals in acai berries include mainly anthocyanins and proanthocyanidins. Acai berries contain more antioxidants than other commonly eaten berries.
The antioxidant anthocyanin, which is abundant in acai berries, may lower oxidative stress and inflammation, promoting brain health. Anthocyanins also have been shown to enhance and improve memory.
They are thought to work by inhibiting neuroinflammation, activating synaptic signaling, and improving blood flow to the brain. Anthocyanin consumption has been strongly linked to oxidative stress protection.
One study has found that regular consumption of anthocyanins can reduce the risk of heart attack by 32 percent in young and middle-aged women. The fiber and heart-healthy fats in acai also support heart health.
Heart-healthy fats increase HDL (“good”) cholesterol and decrease LDL (“bad”) cholesterol. Several longitudinal studies have reported a significantly lower cardiovascular disease risk and all-cause mortality with high consumption of fiber.
Fiber intake also reduces LDL cholesterol. Fiber intake is not only associated with a lower incidence of cardiovascular disease, but also a slower progression of the disease in high-risk individuals.
The National Center for Complementary and Integrative and Health (NCCIH) note that consuming acai berries may help reduce cholesterol and blood sugar levels in people with excess weight. Anthocyanins have been observed to engage in anticarcinogenic activities, although the exact mechanisms are unknown.
Laboratory studies using a variety of cancer cells have indicated that anthocyanins act as antioxidants, activate detoxifying enzymes, prevent cancer cell proliferation, induce cancer cell death, have anti-inflammatory effects, inhibit some of the beginning of the formation of tumors, and prevent cancer cell invasion.
These functions have been observed in multiple animal and culture studies. A small study of 25 patients with colorectal cancer found that a 7-day intake of 0.5-2.0 grams (g) of anthocyanins resulted in improvements similar to other therapies.
Lycium comes from the Lycium Barbarum shrub, which is native to China. People hoping to live longer and healthier lives have been eating this bright orange-red berry for thousands of years.
Legend states that a doctor discovered an ancient society of people that lived for a hundred years or more.
With a little more study and observation, the doctor noticed that the people who lived longer had taken up residence next to wells where the lycium berries grew.
As the berries grew ripe, they would fall off the plant and down into the wells where their nutrients would be absorbed into the water. The citizens would then drink the water and benefit from the juiced up water.
Outside of legend, the lycium berry has been used for more than 2,000 years in traditional Chinese medicine. Its use was first recorded in the year 250 BC by the Chinese emperor Shen Nong in a book called Shen Nong Ben Cao Jing.
Many people use lycium berries to treat eye, liver, and kidney ailments.
The first recorded use of lycium fruit as a medicinal herb is from the first century a.d. For thousands of years it has been used in China to promote a long, vigorous, and happy life.
It is used as both a jing (yin) tonic for liver and kidney, and as a blood tonic. In the Chinese system of health, jing is an essential life substance.
To remain healthy, yin aspects must be kept in balance with yang aspects.
Ill health occurs when the energies and elements of the body are out of balance or in disharmony. Health is restored by taking herbs and treatments that restore this balance.
Lycium fruit is traditionally believed to have many different effects upon the body. In addition to being a general longevity herb, it is said to raise the spirits, fight depression, and increase cheerfulness.
Berries are made into a blood tonic that is given for general weakness, to improve circulation, and increase the cells’ ability to absorb nutrients. When blended with more yang herbs, lycium is used as a sexual tonic.
In Chinese medicine, the liver is associated with the function of the eyes. Lycium berries are used as a liver tonic to brighten the eyes, improve poor eyesight, treat blurred vision, sensitivity to light, and other general eye weaknesses.
One of the qualities ascribed to lycium root is that it “cools the blood.” It is used to reduce fever and to treat other conditions of “excess heat.”
These include traditional uses to relieve excess sweating, stop nosebleeds, reduce vomiting, and treat dizziness. Some herbalists use a tea made of lycium root and Scutellaria (skullcap or Huang Qin ) to treat morning sickness in pregnant women.
Lycium is also used to treat certain types of coughs and asthma. Modern herbalists use lycium roots to treat high blood pressure.
There is some scientific basis for this treatment, since extracts from the root have been shown in laboratory experiments to relax the involuntary muscles, including artery muscles. This relaxation lowers blood pressure.
Other modern scientific studies have shown that extracts of lycium root can reduce fever, including fever associated with malaria. One Korean study published in 1999 looked at the effect extracts from the berries and roots had on the blood of mice that were exposed to whole-body x rays.
They concluded that the mice that received doses of root extract replaced leukocytes, erythrocytes, and thrombocytes faster than those that did not receive the extract. This effect may account for lycium’s reputation for creating good health, vigor, and long life.
Lycium fruit polysaccharides, like those obtained from medicinal mushrooms and from several herbs (the best known as a source is astragalus), have several possible benefits, including promoting immune system functions, reducing gastric irritation, and protecting against neurological damage.
The latter application has been the subject of several recent studies at the University of Hong Kong, where lycium polysaccharides are proposed, on the basis of laboratory studies with isolated neurons, to be of benefit to those with Alzheimer’s disease, though clinical trials have not yet been carried out.
Another constituent of interest is the amino-acid-like substance betaine, which is related to the nutrient choline (betaine is an oxidized form of choline and is converted back to choline by the liver when it is ingested).
Betaine was shown to protect the livers of laboratory animals from the impact of toxic chemicals; other pharmacologic studies have shown that it is an anticonvulsant, sedative, and vasodilator. It has been suggested that betaine could aid the treatment of various chronic liver diseases, such as nonalcoholic fatty liver disease.
Betaine is found also in capsicum, silybum (the source of the liver-protective flavonoid silymarin), and beets (Beta vulgaris, from which betaine gets its name). The amount of betaine in lycium fruit, is about 1% (10), so to get a significant amount, a large dose of lycium fruit would need to be consumed (e.g., 20–30 grams).
A review of research on lycium fruit appearing in Recent Advances in Chinese Herbal Drugs indicates that polysaccharides from lycium fruit enhance both cell-mediated and humoral immune responses.
It was reported, for example, that in laboratory animals, a dose of 5–10 mg/kg lycium fruit polysaccharides daily for one week could increase activity of T-cells, cytotoxic T-cells, and natural killer cells; other studies showed that part of the mechanism of action was via IL-2 stimulation.
The end response to polysaccharide administration did not appear to be solely a stimulation of immune activity, however.
In a laboratory study of lycium on IgE responses, it was noted that lycium fruit reduced antibodies associated with allergy-type reactions, which was presumed to be accomplished through the mechanisms of promoting CD8 T-cells and regulating cytokines; licorice root had a similar effect.
Lycium berries are very nutritious. They are high in fiber, protein and a range of vitamins and minerals including iron, copper, selenium and vitamins A and C.
Regularly consuming concentrated lycium berry juice can boost antioxidant levels in the body.
One study in healthy elderly men and women found that taking a milk-based lycium berry drink daily for 90 days increased levels of the antioxidant zeaxanthin by 26 percent and increased overall antioxidant capacity by 57 percent.
Antioxidants like those in lycium berries may help fight aging by preventing free radicals from damaging collagen in the skin. Some small studies have also shown that lycium berry extract may help delay the aging process in cells.
Lycium berry extract has been linked to anti-cancer activity in both animal and human studies. A study in 79 people with advanced cancer found that those who were given immunotherapy plus concentrated lycium extract experienced a 25 percent higher rate of cancer regression compared to those who received immunotherapy alone.
These anti-cancer effects are likely due to the antioxidants found in lycium berries. Test-tube and animal studies show that lycium berry extract improves blood sugar control by increasing insulin sensitivity and insulin secretion by the pancreas.
Regular consumption of lycium berry extract may improve energy levels, exercise performance and overall feelings of well-being. Lycium berries are low-GI and high in fiber, which can help with weight loss.
Concentrated lycium berry juice may promote weight loss through increased calorie burning. Animal studies have shown that lycium berry extract may help lower total cholesterol and triglyceride levels and increase “good” HDL cholesterol.
Lycium berry extract may help boost the immune system by increasing the white blood cells responsible for protecting the body against harmful bacteria and viruses.
The use of Nopal (or prickly pear) has a long history in herbal medicine in Mexico. In the Indian high culture of the Aztecs, Nopal leaves were valued for their high nutrient content and valuable active ingredients.
Nopal is known for its blood-purifying and purifying effects on the intestinal tract.
Nopal is a fiber-rich plant. The secretion of the cactus stimulates the digestive system.
Also, the vapors produced when boiling the plant are suitable for inhalation in order to remove mucus from the respiratory tract. Nopal pads also have very useful medicinal applications, and the dietary value of the immature pads, or nopalitos, may prove to be important in controlling or preventing Type 2 (adult-onset) diabetes.
There are many historic and modern uses of nopales documented by oral history as well as some actual medical research. For example, infusion of pads are used to treat urinary tract infections Mucilage (pulp) in raw nopalitos reduces the rate of sugar absorption, hence they effectively reduce symptoms of insulin shock.
Tea made from pads is used for treating tuberculosis scar tissue. Mucilage from mature pads kills bacteria in cultures, so it has antibiotic properties.
Infusion of pads is also used to treat swollen prostate. Pads are high in calcium, both insoluble calcium oxalate and soluble mucilage.
They have a hypoglycemic effect, significantly lowering cholesterol and preventing glycemia. Soluble fibers, including viscous mucilage, inhibit the absorption of simple carbohydrates.
Pads also contain high levels of amylose, a starch that breaks down into simple sugars more slowly than amylopectin, the starch in bread and potatoes. According to Laredo herbalist Tony Ramirez, nopales are useful in preventing diet-related cardiovascular disease and adult-onset diabetes as well as protecting the male prostate gland.
Nopal cactus has antiviral properties, and some preliminary research has found that it has antiviral activity against herpes simplex virus (HSV), respiratory syncytial virus (RSV), and HIV.
A 2014 study found that nopal cactus contains neuroprotective properties. This can help prevent nerve cells from damage or loss of function.
Nopal cactus is full of antioxidants, and a 2013 study found that the cactus is able to reduce oxidative stress.
Some research indicates that nopal cactus can decrease and regulate blood sugar. A 2012 study, for example, recommends taking nopal cactus together with other diabetes medications to help regulate blood sugar.
Early research has shown that nopal cactus may help to treat enlarged prostates and may even be effective in helping treat prostate cancer. As a bonus, it may be able to do so with fewer side effects than traditional prescription medications.
Nopal cactus may actually help with the symptoms of hangovers. A 2004 study found strong evidence that nopal cactus extract significantly reduces the severity of hangovers when taken before drinking.
An early study found evidence that nopal cactus was able to decrease cholesterol. While overall levels of cholesterol dropped, LDL cholesterol (or “bad” cholesterol) dropped significantly.