Uncovering hype behind fruit benefits

LOS ANGELES The vitamin and fiber content of berries offer a strong selling point. Along with good taste, their plant chemicals provide beautiful color and nutritional benefits have been thoroughly tested.

Blueberries have been shown to reverse age-related brain function decline, while blackberries improve balance, coordination and short-term memory performance in animal studies. Black raspberries fight against colon cancer.

Cranberries in juice cocktail have proven to be helpful fighting urinary tract infections for women with this chronic condition, while pomegranate juice helps clean out arteries in both animal and human studies. Make sure you buy 100 percent pure form of this juice if you want these benefits.

When it comes to some so-called super fruits watch out.

Researchers from Tufts University and the Center for Science in the Public Interest warn that berries like goji and acai, often sold dried or in juice, could contain a nice dose of antioxidants, but testing isn't as conclusive on the positive effects of these foods. They cost more than fruits American grown like blueberries.

Dietitian Ashley Koff says whole, fresh, local fruit is a better bet financially, environmentally and nutritionally.

"What we know is that the best foods for us is the ones we eat that are found exactly as they exist in nature," Koff said.

"If we're looking at goji and some of this other stuff, we have to keep in mind whether its juice or dried fruit. Those present a little bit more of a sugar issue for us than just our fresh good quality organic blueberries."

Koff also says that if you are buying some of these super fruits, know their origin. Organic is best when looking at tropical products from faraway lands. Good reputable companies are considered safe, but there are many selling these fruits on the internet and in quite a few foods.

When fruit is cut, oxidation begins and antioxidants are lost. Even more are lost when you lose the skin, the seeds and even the pulp, so whenever possible, you want to eat, not drink, to good health.

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