Eating fruits rich in antioxidants can greatly improve your health and reduce your risks for certain diseases. Several exotic fruits have emerged on the market, touting extraordinary health benefits and amazing amounts of these super nutrients. Two of these, acai berries and mangosteen, compete for a spot on the top of the super fruit list. Both boast health benefits, but come with a high price tag--so which is a better buy?
Oxidation of cells create free radicals which increase the chances of diseases occurring--particularly cancer, Parkinson's Disease, Alzeheimers Disease, and heart diseases. Free radicals also contribute to aging. Antioxidants work to prevent this degradation of cells--offsetting the chances of diseases and slowing the aging process. Dark and brightly colored fruits and vegetables possess lots of antioxidants and nutritionists champion their consumption. The antioxidant levels of food are measured by the Oxygen Radical Absorbance Capacity (ORAC). A higher ORAC score means a higher antioxidant content.
A consistent ORAC score has not been established for either acai berries or mangosteens. But there are other ways to compare them, in terms of the types of antioxidants each contains and their ability to be absorbed by the body.
Acai berries are a South American fruit that grows on the acai palm. Related to cranberries and blueberries, the acai berry reportedly has one of the highest concentrations of antioxidants of any fruit. The fruit is extremely perishable,so it is available frozen (or an ingredient in frozen treats), as a juice or in a dehydrated form. Supplements abound claiming that their concentration of acai berry can cure many ills, help you lose weight and improve energy and athletic performance.
The acai berry contains anthocyanins which help the nervous and cardiovascular system and proanthocyanidins which reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease and stabilize connective tissues. A 2006 study published in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry confirmed that these antioxidants are actually absorbed by the human body and can help prevent cancer. Research into the claims that the berry can help you lose weight and increase energy and athletic performance have yet to be conducted. The berry is high in potassium, fiber and a number of other minerals, and can be a great addition to any healthy diet.
The mangosteen fruit, not to be confused with the mango, grows in South East Asia. Known for its amazing immune boosting abilities, the fruit is now being marketed in the West as a super solution to all your health woes. The majority of its antioxidants reside in the thick peel of the fruit, so it is usually marketed as a juice or in pill form. The mangosteen's premier antioxidant, xanthones, possess powerful anti-inflammatory, anti-cancer, anti-bacterial, anti-fungal, anti-histamine, anti-viral and anti-mycrobacterial properties and are known to be an overall strong immune system booster.
Researchers reported a credible method for measuring xanthones in a study published in the June 2007 issue of the Journal of Separation Science. Early results from a separate study conducted on a brand of magosteen juice indicate that it can be a great source of absorbable xanthones.
Use Supplements with Caution
Supplement companies cling to the few studies that have been conducted on both these fruits, claiming that the consumption of acai berries or mangosteen can cure a number of ailments and prevent diseases and aging. The quality of the ingredients in supplements may be inferior (there is no body providing quality-control over supplements) and the actual amount of the exotic fruit in each pill could be low. The body best absorbs antioxidants when consumed as a whole fruit or juice, so the pills may not deliver the same effectiveness. Manufacturers mix acai berry and mangosteen juices with other more common fruits--such as blueberries and cranberries, which also contain antioxidants, but may not warrant the high price tag of the exotic fruits.
Both the acai berry and mangosteen can be positive additions to a healthy diet. However, some of the same antioxidants may also be obtained through more readily available fruits and vegetables such as blueberries, spinach, raisins and beets. Variety in your diet promotes overall health, not one super fruit.