Skip the Exotics … Local Berries are Best!


There is a growing trend of promoting exotic fruits and berries like Noni, Goji berries and Acai berries, as having health benefits and even miraculous properties. There is a great deal of money being made packaging and promoting these fruits.

Goji berries, also called wolfberry, are native to Europe and Asia, with most of the commercially grown goji coming from China. They are delicate berries and organochlorine pesticides are commonly used in their cultivation. Acai berries, at least 8 varieties, are native to Central and South America.

These exotics do have very high levels of anti-oxidants and flavanoids, which are disease fighting and health-promoting natural compounds. Acai, the latest rage, is high in nitric oxide, a potent blood vessel dilator, in addition to potent anti-oxidants.

However, these high-priced specialty products are not without concern. These fruits are transported long distances, to be consumed far from where they are grown, using lots of petro in the process. They may have been exposed to pesticides in cultivation in countries, like China, with very different regulations. Irradiation is often required of many fruits arriving at our shores, depending on where they are coming from. And, lastly, many of these expensive exotic fruit products are promoted in drinks and other products with sugar added.

We do not need these exotic fruits in order to be healthy, as many of these manufacturers would like us to believe. In fact, we have local fruits that are loaded with these same phytochemicals.

Blueberries, especially wild American blueberries, with the highest level of anti-oxidants per serving, are also the most concentrated source of the anthocyanins. These flavanoids have anti-oxidant and anti-inflammatory properties, giving them great potential to fight aging, Alzheimer’s disease and other chronic inflammatory ailments. They can decrease the age-related decline in cognitive and motor function. They are anti-viral, blood thinning, and promote healthy skin and hair.

Maintain a very berry diet! Our common blueberries, blackberries, cranberries, and also grapes, cherries, plums, and prunes are loaded with anti-oxidants. Raspberries, pomegranates, strawberries, cherries, grapes, apples, blueberries, grape seed extract (and also nuts — especially walnuts and pecans) contain ellagic acid — which blocks the enzymes essential for cancer cell metabolism, and also prevents angiogenesis, which is the production of new abnormal blood vessels by the cancer cells.

Eat local, organic berries (and all fruit) in season, when they are least expensive, most tasty, and highest in health-promoting properties. No need to go beyond our shores for healthy fruits.