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Juicy News for Fruit Lovers

Fruit juices provide health benefits, but drink them in moderation.

New Juices on Market

One of the newer fruit juices that is capturing our attention is black currant juice. For 100 years it was illegal to commercially grow black currants in the U.S, but that law has now been overturned, thanks to the efforts of Greg H. Quinn, president of The Currant Company, which is the first, and at the moment, the only domestic producer of a currant product in the U.S., a nectar known as CurrantC. (Growing black currant was banned in the early 1900s because it was found to promote the spread of white pine blister rust, which threatened the booming timber industry.)

Research conducted in countries such as New Zealand, Japan, Sweden, and Finland has shown that black currants have many benefits. They have been shown to have twice the antioxidants of blueberries, four times the vitamin C of oranges, and twice the potassium of bananas. These overseas studies have also reported that black currants can lower blood pressure, improve skin disorders such as dermatitis and psoriasis, and improve eye function.

In this country, researchers at Tufts University found that anthocyanins and polyphenolics, compounds found in black currants (as in other deeply colored fruits), may help protect against Alzheimer's disease. The study was published in the January 2006 issue of Chemistry & Industry magazine.

Also new on the juice scene is Tahitian noni juice, made from a fruit grown only in tropical climates and first discovered by two food scientists in the 1990s. The U.S.-based company Tahitian Noni International now distributes juice (and other noni products) through direct sales in 35 countries and promotes the drink's antioxidant properties, its support to the immune system, and its ability to increase energy and physical performance levels.

In a literature review conducted by the University of Illinois College of Medicine, researchers cited a statistical clinical survey of noni's medicinal benefits undertaken by Neil Solomon, MD, PhD, former Secretary of Health and Mental Hygiene for the State of Maryland. After reviewing results of 10,000 noni users, Solomon reported that noni possesses a variety of medical benefits including lessening of symptoms in cancer patients, significant drops in blood pressure, decrease in pain for those experiencing chronic pain, decrease of symptoms among heart patients, and more. Nearly all the data, however, comes from users of the company's juice, and the research project itself was supported by a grant from Morinda Inc., the parent company of Tahitian Noni International.

Same Benefits, Cheaper Price

Independent studies published in the scientific community have more validity than a company's own sponsored research, says nutrition consultant Carla McGill. But McGill acknowledges that we are discovering new substances in food -- and even new foods themselves -- all the time that do have beneficial effects. "As technology improves, as we find foods with which we have been unfamiliar, we continue to learn more."

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