Friday November 1, 2013
Move over apples. Ditto for cinnamon, oregano, acai, blueberries and pomegranate. There’s a new kid on the antioxidant block; her name is noni fruit leather, and she’s got so much antioxidant power that she’s displacing all of these other so-called superfoods as a new superstar. This is important news for anyone concerned with fighting aging since antioxidant-rich diets are one of the surest ways of combating the physiological ravages of time.
According to the modern free radical theory of aging, putting higher amounts of antioxidants into the diet slows oxidative processes and free radical damage that contribute to age-related degeneration and disease.
Daily antioxidant therapy—feeding the body foods it craves to sustain, vitalize and renew—delivers preventive effects against cancer, heart disease, vision deterioration and skin aging. Antioxidants neutralize free radicals produced by poor diet, environmental exposures, stress and toxic personal habits.
To measure the antioxidant activity of foods, scientists at the National Institutes of Health have developed a method of determining the oxygen radical absorbance capacity (ORAC) for foods. The ORAC value shows how quickly a food reduces highly reactive oxidizing (rusting) compounds into harmless chemical substances that the body has successfully uncoupled. Those foods providing the best reducing power per 100 grams earn the highest ORAC scores.
Studies indicate that the antioxidant activity of high ORAC foods that protects cells can:
- Raise the antioxidant power of human blood;
- Prevent some loss of long-term memory and learning ability in middle-aged rats;
- Maintain the ability of brain cells in middle-aged rats to respond to a chemical stimulus and protect tiny blood vessels (capillaries) against oxygen damage.
The US Department of Agriculture has determined that a person should be consuming foods and supplements with at least 3,000 to 5,000 ORAC units per day. For consumers, ORAC can be an important guide to some of the world’s healthiest foods. Experts warn, however, that when using ORAC data, care must be taken to ensure the units and foods compared are similar. Spices are potent but used in small servings. Clove has been recognized as one of the highest antioxidant foods with a 1,078,700 ORAC score. Oregano, cinnamon and turmeric have ORAC values of over 100,000, but all are consumed in small quantities. Foods with around 3,000 ORAC include fruits such as apples (3,082) and raisins (3,087). Wet or dry weight matters as water dilutes potency. Raisins appear to have a higher ORAC value than grapes when measured in wet weight since they have so little water.
The same situation could be applied to noni, a South Seas tropical fruit carried by travelers on outriggers from the Marquesas to Hawaii and now being traded globally due to the demand from health seekers in America, Asia, Europe and South America.
Fruit Leather Captures Noni Power
Native people used noni fruit both internally and externally for its potent healing and pain-relieving properties. But noni rarely, if ever, makes its appearance as a fresh fruit. Its destiny in world trade has succumbed to perishability until the last few decades when the fruit’s fermented, pungent bottled juice became an international best seller.
Yet, interestingly, because it is tested as a commercial juice and diluted with liquid, noni never fared well on the ORAC value rankings. According to Tufts University, while pomegranates have 3,037 ORAC units and blueberries 2,400, noni juice has only 433 ORAC value per serving.
As a result, nobody realized just how much antioxidant power the concentrated noni fruit contains— that is, until now, thanks to the work of an organic farmer in Hawaii whose processing methods preserve the nutrition of the fresh fruit in what is known as &ldquo noni fruit leather.” Laboratory testing performed for Hawaiian Organic Noni, reveals a new level of antioxidant potency from noni fruit leather that is higher than juice and apparently higher than many other well-known highest-rated ORAC foods like strawberries, blueberries and raspberries. A private analysis of the antioxidant value of noni fruit leather could make it the number one ORAC-ranked raw whole food supplement.
Garden Island Noni
Steve Frailey came to Kauai, the Garden Island of Hawaii, from San Diego, California, with a background in organic agriculture and an appreciation for traditional medicinal healing foods. Frailey became fascinated by noni and began farming it when he discovered trees gone feral growing in tangled thickets on his land.
His organic, self-sustaining farm on the edge of the rocky Pacific shoreline, home to a natural albatross hatchery, nourishes an unusually productive agriculture property.
His methods of no till farming and using wholly organic vegetative matter have created noni plants so potent they produce fruit 12 instead of the usual 10 months of the year.
Hawaiian Organic Noni then brings this super potent fruit to consumers by employing a method of processing that delivers the entire spectrum of phytochemicals, both water- and fatsoluble nutrients, in a concentrated faithful representation of nature. Processing noni and preserving antioxidant potential involves slow, low-heat dehydration to produce a concentrated source. This transforms the highly perishable treasure into tasty, antioxidant-rich fruit leather that can be shipped across the globe and enjoyed as a whole food.
When recently studied for its own antioxidant potential per daily serving, noni fruit leather served 340,000 ORAC units per 100 grams, according to UBE Analytical Laboratories of Fullerton, California. This makes noni fruit leather more potent than cloves per daily serving size and more plentiful with antioxidant power per serving than apples, blueberries, pomegranates, raisins and grapes. When used in a daily two-by-two- inch serving size, noni fruit leather provides 6,024 ORAC units, more than most of the other antioxidant-rich foods like berries and pomegranate.
The fruit leather may be inherently more potent than the juice, which is fermented. Some experts say that, although fermentation may be a plus for some foods (such as dairy, cacao and soy), in the case of noni the fruit loses some of its antioxidant potential. Also, some of the most important antioxidants found in portions of the fruit are not used for juice.
Based on comparable serving sizes, noni fruit leather is 13.91 times more potent than commercial juice.
At the Program for Collaborative Research in the Pharmaceutical Sciences at the University of Illinois at Chicago, researchers looked at more than 17 phytochemicals pinpointed in noni and found that a particular chemical, americanin A (3), could account for at least some of its potent antioxidant capability. Americanin A (3) “was found to be a potent antioxidant in these assays.”
Pharmaceutical research from Mahidol University in Bangkok, Thailand, shows that non-aqueous (made from a liquid other than water) extracts of noni might be the most potent. The March 2010 Southeast Asian Journal of Tropical Medicine Public Health reports that leaves were extracted by several methods and evaluated against human cancer cell lines. “Several non-aqueous extracts from the leaves showed antioxidant properties… It can be concluded the leaves of M. citrifolia may have benefit as a food supplement for chemoprevention against epidermoid and cervical cancers.”
Although the foods on the ORAC list are not all from the same source—freeze-dried acai berries are compared with goji berries and blueberries in berry form—the rankings are an important way to show which foods have the greatest antioxidant benefit.
Frailey, who has pioneered noni fruit leather, says, “It really is all about the potency. I think the independent lab results confirm that our organic growing methods, low-heat processing of the whole raw fruit and not fermenting preserves the maximum potency and brings us as close to the raw fruit as one can get, which also brings up the traditional use—South Sea Islanders truly ate the fruit raw.”