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Poor Man's Juice Rich in Antioxidants

The next new exotic fruit craze may well be Brazil's a? berry. This fruit of a palm plant, grown in the fertile flood plains of the Amazon River, has been consumed as a "poor man's juice" by South Americans for centuries. The prolific fruit is a deep purple colour and
contains the powerful antioxidant anthocyanin, which is also found in blueberries, kidney beans, and plums.

Just this year, researchers at the University of Florida investigated the a? berry in order to test some health claims attributed to it. They found that cultivated human leukemia cells, when exposed to various concentrations of the berry, died (perhaps due to a self-destruct mechanism), in 56 to 86 percent of the cells.

Researchers are quick to clarify that this study does not prove a? berries prevent leukemia and stated, "We are encouraged by the findings. Compounds that show good activity against cancer cells in a culture model system are most likely to have beneficial effects in
our bodies."

Other preliminary research shows that the anthocyanins only make up 10 percent of the a? berry's antioxidant profile and other, as yet unknown, compounds may have a synergistic effect. In the meantime most health claims for the fruit remain untested and researchers are recommending the consumption of colourful fruits and vegetables as part of a continued healthy diet.

Sally Errey

Chocolate Banishes the Winter Blues

Many of us reach for a sweet treat in the afternoons when the days are cloudy and the nights come too soon. Research shows a clear link between such cravings and depression.

Eating healthy foods (such as whole grains and low-fat proteins) and getting plenty of exercise are still your best options. But sometimes a chocolate bar is simply the easiest pick-me-up. Just make sure you're getting the right kind of chocolate, and you won't have to feel quite so guilty.

Dark chocolate is a rich source of antioxidant flavonoids, which have been reported to demonstrate antiviral, anti-inflammatory, and antitumour activities. Choose chocolate containing at least 70-percent cocoa solids; that's where you'll find health-promoting antioxidants.

Chocolate contains a number of chemical substances that act as stimulants, increasing the activity of neurotransmitters and unleashing uplifting endorphins in the brain. Caffeine, phenylethylamine, and theobromine all found in chocolate can offer the chocolate eater a lift. Chocolate is also a rich source of magnesium; deficiencies of this mineral have been linked to depression.

Ninel Guthrie

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