In the third grade I was told I could write a paper on any topic for an English homework assignment. I chose the subject of scurvy as it affected sailors who were away at sea for long periods of time and the resulting discovery of Vitamin C as its cure. I remember the paper well for I was literally transcended from ignorance to a place of awe at the intricacies of the human body and its response to nutrients.
Today, antioxidants are the word on the street. They are used to boost energy (forget caffeine – this stuff rocks!) and these antioxidants fight infection, and address a whole range of health issues.
Before XanGo, Tahitian Noni, Fruta Vida, (containing, respectively, mangosteen, goji, and acai) and now Amigo Juice (a marriage of all three super foods), we had Vitamin C, E, and A. For many of us, it was all about drinking that cup of orange juice at breakfast or taking a vitamin supplement. But today, we are not talking about just a punch but a real blow to sickness and disease, taking the form of antioxidant rich health beverages that many consumers swear by in their quest for wellness.
Living in today’s very toxic world, antioxidants deserve a special place in the area of nutritional supplements and are certainly worth examining closer to see what they are all about and learn how we can implement them into our daily routine.
Quite simply put, at the molecular and cellular levels, antioxidants serve to deactivate certain particles called free radicals. In humans, free radicals usually come in the form of O2, the oxygen molecule. The oxygen molecule desires to be oxidized, and this oxidation process can sometimes be carcinogenic. Free radicals are the natural by-products of many processes within and among cells. They are also created by exposure to various environmental factors, tobacco smoke and radiation. Of course, this certainly includes air quality and all the junk we put into our bodies that our immune system is forced to combat.
If allowed to run amok, these free radicals can cause damage to cell walls, cell structures, and genetic material within the cell. They are the bully on the playground and need to be dealt a firm hand for the resulting damage can eventually lead to disease and ultimately death.
Antioxidants play a key role in cleaning up the destruction caused by these free radicals. They clean house before free radicals get a chance to harm the body. Researchers have determined that antioxidants are useful in the prevention of carcinogenic effects of oxidation.
To that end, a variety of health companies, most notably in the form of multi-level marketing, have cropped up offering antioxidant rich health drinks, as captured in the pericarp, hull, pulp, rind, basically the whole fruit, the kitchen and its sink, ground and mixed and served up in tasty 1 oz. servings. Not to mention the mangosteen fruit has introduced an entirely new classification of antioxidants, called Xanthones with professed health benefits too numerous to list, many years of research, and centuries of positive use.
These antioxidant rich drinks created three distinct camps. One decided the mangosteen is their drink of choice, goji has its determined followers, and there is also acai (pronounced ah-sigh-ee). It became difficult to navigate through hype and look for substance. According to numerous reports by customers, they all have their benefits.
However, in March of this year, one product was introduced, integrating all three important fruits into one single product in a dried formula, omitting any need for pasteurization, cutting back on the cost of shipping, and providing the most bang for the buck. Most importantly, each of the three super foods had very distinct benefits. Now we have a marriage of all three fruits in one drink in Amigo Juice.
THE BIG THREE SUPER FOODS
The following is a look at the three fruits: acai, mangosteen, and goji.
The Acai berry, or Acai Fruit grows on majestic palm trees in the Amazon Rainforest and looks like a purple marble or grape. Acai contains high levels of Antioxidants, Omega Fatty Acids (healthy fats), Iron, Amino Acids, Fiber, and many other vitamins and minerals. The people living in the Amazon region in Northern Brazil, have consumed Acai for hundreds of years and its healing and sustaining powers are legendary.
Acai Berry is known to harness the following properties: Antioxidant, Antibacterial, Anti-inflammatory, Antimutagenic, Cardiovascular System. Acai berries contain very high amounts of essential fatty acids and omegas proven to lower LDL and maintain HDL cholesterol levels. They also contain a remarkable concentration of antioxidants to help combat premature aging.
Acai Berry is a dense source of a particular class of flavonoids called anthocyanins. The ORAC value of Acai Berry is higher than any other edible berry in the world. Acai Berry is also an excellent source of dietary fiber. Acai is extremely rich in organic vegetable protein which does not generate cholesterol during its digestion and is more easily processed and transported to your muscles than animal protein (such as what is found in milk or meat).
Besides its outstanding content of protein and unsaturated lipids, Acai is also rich in carbohydrates, providing your body with the necessary energy while working or practicing any kind of sport.
There is also an amazingly high concentration of antioxidants useful in combating premature aging. The proanthocyanidine contents in Acai Berries contain 10 to 30 times the anthocyanins (these are the purple colored antioxidants) of red wine per volume. Although the French consume a high fat diet, they have a low incidence of cardiovascular disease compared to the western countries. They contribute this factor to their consumption of red wine. Acai Berries can help promote a healthier cardiovascular system and digestive tract, because of its synergy of monounsaturated fats (these are the healthy fats), dietary fiber, and phytosterols.
They provide the body with an excellent source of fiber. Fiber promotes a healthy digestive system. Research studies suggest soluble fibers may help lower blood cholesterol. The insoluble fiber may help to reduce the risk of developing certain types of cancers. Essential amino acid complex along with trace minerals, which are vital for proper muscle contraction and regeneration.
The mangosteen (Garcinia mangostana) is a tropical evergreen tree, believed to have originated in the Sunda Islands and the Moluccas. The tree grows from 7 to 25 meters tall. The edible fruit is deep reddish purple when ripe. In Asia, the mangosteen fruit is known as the “Queen of Fruits.” The outer shell of the fruit (pericarp) is rather hard, typically 4-6 cm in diameter, resembling a spherical, black cartoon bomb.
Mangosteen has compounds with antioxidant, anti-bacterial, anti-fungal, and anti-tumor activity. Laboratory testing thus far indicates that extracts of mangosteen have activity against several cancer cell lines including breast, liver, and leukemia. Mangosteen also appears to have anti-histamine and anti-inflammatory properties. Most notably, the mangosteen provides powerful anti-inflammatory benefits which play an important role in numerous health conditions.
For hundreds of years, the people of Southeast Asia have used the mangosteen, especially the rind, to ward off and treat infections, reduce pain or control fever, and treat various other ailments.
Most of the studies with mangosteen have focused on the pericarp, or the dark, woody rind as opposed to the fruit inside the woody rind. The pericarp contains the active xanthone compounds. The fruit itself probably has some beneficial compounds but the compounds within the mangosteen fruit have not been studied as well as the mangosteen rind.
Several compounds in mangosteen appear to be active, particularly xanthones. Some of these xanthones include mangostin, mangostenol, mangostenone A, mangostenone B, trapezifolixanthone, tovophyllin B, alpha- and beta-mangostins, garcinone B, mangostinone, mangostanol, and the flavonoid epicatechin.
There are numerous studies available for review at http://www.pubmed.com. Just enter the word “mangosteen” to access a list.
Goji berries have the highest concentration of beta-carotene among all foods on earth. Beta-carotene can be transformed into vitamin A under the influence of human liver enzymes. Therefore, vitamin A ultimately plays a major influence in Lycium’s actions. Lycium’s function on the eyes is related to this factor.
Lycium’s vitamin B1 and B2 contents are significant and the vitamin C content of freeze-dried Lycium has been measured to be 73 mg/100 grams. The fruit also contains vitamin C, beta-sitosterol (an anti-inflammatory agent), linoleic acid (a fatty acid), sesquiterpenoids (cyperone, solavetivone), tetraterpenoids (zeaxanthin, physalin), and betaine (0.1%).
Lycium contains 18 kinds of amino acids, of which 8 are indispensable amino acids for the human body (such as isoleucine and tryptophan). 50% of Lycium’s amino acids are free amino acid. Lycium contains numerous trace elements, of which the main ones are zinc, iron and copper. Mature fruits contain about 11 mg. of iron per 100 grams. Ning Xia Lycium contains 45% glucose, 7% fructose and 5.5% glucose.
Goji Berries have been used in Tibet for at least 1,700 years. Tibetan medicine includes these berries in the treatment of kidney and liver problems. They are also used in Tibet to lower cholesterol, lower blood pressure, and cleanse the blood. Goji Berries have a long history of use in the treatment of eye problems, skin rashes, psoriasis, allergies, insomnia, chronic liver disease, diabetes and tuberculosis. Goji Berries are used by the people of Tibet to increase longevity and as a general health strengthening tonic.
Science has shown that this bright red berry not only contains extremely high levels of antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals, but also contains many unique phytochemicals, polysaccharides, and complex compounds that scientists are only beginning to understand.
Goji Berries contain the following complex compounds:
Betaine, which is used by the liver to produce choline, a compound that calms nervousness, enhances memory, promotes muscle growth, and protects against fatty liver disease.
Physalin, which is active against all major types of leukemia. It has also been used as a treatment for hepatitis B. Solavetivone, a powerful anti-fungal and anti-bacterial compound.
Beta-Sitoserol, an anti-inflammatory agent. It has been used to treat sexual impotence and prostate enlargement. It also lowers cholesterol.
Cyperone, a sesquiterpene that benefits the heart and blood pressure. It has also been used in the treatment of cervical cancer.
These compounds as found in the Goji Berry are used in the following manner: Betaine, which is used by the liver to produce choline, a compound that calms nervousness, enhances memory, promotes muscle growth, and protects against fatty liver disease. Physalin, which is active against all major types of leukemia. It has also been used as a treatment for hepatitis B. Solavetivone, a powerful anti-fungal and anti-bacterial compound. Beta-Sitoserol, an anti-inflammatory agent. It has been used to treat sexual impotence and prostate enlargement. It also lowers cholesterol. Cyperone, a sesquiterpene that benefits the heart and blood pressure. It has also been used in the treatment of cervical cancer.
When navigating through the myriad of choices in determining which product to choose in today’s antioxidant saturated market, it is important to consider the following criteria: quality of product; quantity and source of ingredient; reputation of manufacturing company; and cost.
At one time, health products did a little bit of this and a little bit of that. As someone who used to pop about 30 vitamins each day to get what I felt my body needed for good health, it is exciting to see a number of products offering profound results. These results are allowing individuals to drop their pharmaceutical drug habit, or at the very least drop the dose, giving the body what it craves most, all things natural. We can do much to combat the ill effects of toxins and poor diet by the choices we make with regards to nutritional supplementation.