EXOTIC HEALTHY JUICES     
  Copyright 2007 Joe Smulevitz, C.H., M.H.

As consumers become more aware of the numerous health benefits of colorful fruits, demand for exotic or uncommon berries and fruits have dramatically increased.  A number of berries and fruits from various continents are now available as a juice product in the North American marketplace.  Some of the more popular berries made into juice include the acai berry from Brazil and goji berry from China. Tree fruits now consumed as juice include, noni and mangosteen from the South Pacific Islands and pomegranate from the Mediterranean region but now cultivated in California.  These exotic fruit juices are high in nutrient value, have a rich antioxidant content and a long history as a folk remedy in their native lands.

For example, native people from Brazil use the acai berry for digestive disorders, skin conditions and as an energy booster.  The berries resemble blueberries and grow on the tops of the many palm trees in the Brazilian rainforest.  The highly perishable berry has gained popularity in North America as a juice and additive to smoothies.  Its pulp powder has potential for expansion into numerous food and beverage products.

Then there's goji berries also known as Chinese Wolfberry, an age-old Chinese tonic herb. In traditional Chinese medicine the berries are eaten raw and used in cooking to promote long life, improve blood pressure, eyesight and circulation. The bright red berries grow on vine like evergreen shrubs, throughout much of China and Tibet.  Goji berries should be hand-picked at the peak of their ripeness, then cold pressed and flash pasteurized to maintain freshness when made into juice.

Another popular juice, noni has a long history of medicinal use among Polynesians and throughout the South Pacific Islands.  The fruit of noni has been used traditionally as a topical agent for bruises, sprains, and external injuries.  Internally, its fruit has been employed to treat intestinal worms, weakness and respiratory disorders.  Noni is the Polynesian name of this small tropical evergreen tree (Morinda citrifolia).  The tree bears fruit several times annually. The fruit is then picked when ripe and made into juice.

Mangosteen fruit, the dark, purple, fragile fruit of the mangosteen tree, also has a long tradition as a folk remedy in Asia, Africa and the Pacific tropics. An ointment from the rind (outer cover) of the fruit is applied for skin conditions such as eczema.  The rind is used as tea for diarrhea and bladder infections.  In North America, the entire mangosteen fruit, including the thick, inner and outer rind (pericarp) and its white, fleshy interior (pulp and seed) is used as a popular health drink.

The most popular of the exotic fruits is the pomegranate.  It has been used for generations in the Middle East as a folk remedy to treat diarrhea and to comfort an upset stomach.  Now, a growing body of evidence seems to indicate the effectiveness of pomegranate juice for heart health and possibly prostate cancer.  The potential health benefits have helped the fruit gain acceptance as a mainstream juice. The juice is derived from the leathery, round fruit that's about the size of an orange, containing numerous seeds. 

Joe Smulevitz is a Chartered/Master Herbalist, a researcher and writer. He can be reached at herbalistjoe@sympatico.ca

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