Tuesday, November 6, 2007


Best Blog Tips

Allow me a short rant....

It amazes me that people will pay up to $50 a bottle for some exotic-sounding tropical juice that is supposed to be loaded with vitamin C and antioxidants (and, incidentally, cure everything that ails you!), when they can go to their local grocery store or natural foods market and buy some locally-grown fruits and berries that are every bit as good for you! Or, they can even go pick wild berries for free!

The three tropical fruits that immediately come to mind (and that some companies are getting VERY rich on) are goji berry, noni, and mangosteen. The newest one on the market is acai berry from Brazil. Now, there's nothing wrong with these fruits. They are perfectly good. But why should you pay $40-50 a bottle for the juice (often sold via a multi-level marketing [pyramid] company), when it's no better than any bottled apple juice that you can buy, and certainly less healthful than local fresh fruit or homemade juice? These fruits are no doubt purchased dirt-cheap from Third World countries (Tibet, or, more likely, China, for the goji berries: Tahiti for the noni; and Southeast Asia for the mangosteen). They are then processed into juice (thereby eliminating the fiber, and using a heating process to preserve them for bottling, eliminating alot of the vitamin C and other heat-sensitive nutrients. (Click on the links in this paragraph for more info.)

So, the farmers or pickers in those Third World countries are getting ripped-off, and you are getting ripped-off by paying so much for a bottle of this stuff! The truth is that we have fruits and berries in North America that have just as many (if not more) nutrients and antioxidants as those tropical fruits! Whatever happened to "buy locally"? You can even pick many berries for free in the summer and fall and freeze, can or dry them for winter use, keeping the money in your pocket and treating yourself to some good eating as well as plentiful nutrition.

Here's an article about the new, CHEAP "super-fruit" that's been hiding in the hedgerows of Europe and North America-- black currants! (Remember Ribena?)

If you read the article at the bottom of this blog post that I wrote on antioxidants, you will see a list of the 20 foods with the highest antioxidant activity. You will notice that they are all grown in North America!

One of my favorites on that list is cranberries, which are grown in BC and many other areas in North America, and which is a cousin of the blueberry (high up on said list). You can read about the many health benefits of the cranberry here. The season for cranberry delights is coming upon us, but they are good all year round, and they are widely available, fresh, frozen, and dried (look for the UNsweetened dried ones).

So, what if you don't go for the juice, but go for the fruit or the dried fruit of these tropical fruits? Well, as far as I know, noni is not available in North American markets, and maybe just as well. Here's how the Wikipedia entry for noni fruit describes it:

"The fruit is a multiple fruit that has a pungent odor when ripening, and is hence also known as cheese fruit or even vomit fruit."
It eveidently tastes so bad that it has to be cut with other fruit juices.

You can sometimes find mangosteens in markets in large cities, but, again, what about eating locally? Goji berries are generally sold dried. So why not just eat fresh North American fruits that are high in antioxidants, and dried North American fruits and berries? Dried goji berries cost from $19.95-$39.95/18 oz. online. It is not always clear whether they are organic or not, and how could you tell anyway, when they come from China? Organic dried unsweetened cranberries, on the other hand can be had for $14.25/18 oz. (tierrafarm.com), and organic dried blueberries for $14.92/18 oz. (traversebayfarms.com). Or, you could buy or pick wild or organic blueberries in the summer and dry them yourself!

Here is some info about the hype around goji berry, noni, and mangosteen juice (some are sold by companies that use pyramid schemes). I couldn't find anything on acai berry juice that wasn't from a company or website trying to sell it or get you to sell it!

Here's a Nutrition Action Newsletter pdf file article "Squeezing cash out of three 'hot' juices". (One of the juices is pomegranate, but it's quite a bit cheaper than the others [about $10 a bottle], and at least it tastes good, and can be grown in some areas of North America. Here is an article by Ralph Moss, Phd, from cancerdecisions.com, about the health benefits of pomegranate, and a warning.)

Another short article about the above. Here's a quote: "Salespeople for Tahitian Noni juice were caught on camera by a CBS affiliate in Los Angeles, claiming that the tropical juice “does miracles” for lupus, dementia, and macular degeneration, a leading cause of blindness among older Americans. But no good studies have shown that noni, a lime green fruit found in tropical Asia and islands in the Pacific, has any unique benefits. A distributor was also recorded telling new recruits that the juice tastes “just like money.” No kidding—a 32-ounce bottle of Tahitian Noni juice runs $42."

The CBC program "Marketplace" featured a piece on the goji berry juice scam: watch the whole show here .

On Noni juice by Ralph Moss, PhD of The Moss Reports (Alternative cancer Treatments)

Is there more about mangosteen juice, or Xango, one name that it's sold under?  Here's another article. And here's the last bit of that article:

"Some Anti-Oxidant Rich Foods: Cheap Alternatives

Okay, now that I feel a little better to have expressed my truth about this mangosteen juice, let me give you some quick tips that these companies certainly don’t want you to know.

1- Berries — Berries are by far the one of the richest sources of antioxidants, particularly wild blueberry. I suggest having as many berries as you can. Plus they are particularly enjoyable to eat. When wild blueberries are in season, freeze them in ridiculous quantities and use them throughout the year.

2- Pomegranate Juice — Pomegranate Juice is a very high source of cancer-fighting anti-oxidants. You can either purchase fresh pomegranates and make the juice yourself, or purchase pomegranate concentrate (which is still a high source of anti-oxidants). The good thing is that even a big jug of pomegranate juice will only cost you about $7, so 5 times less than the mangosteen juice (which is made mostly with other juices). And best of all, you can find it in most health food stores.

3- Prunes — According to recent studies, prunes rank really high on the “anti-oxidant” score. Good thing, because they are also very delicious.

4- Greens — Dark green leafy vegetables are also an excellent source of anti-oxidants. But not just that. Greens contain more nutrition than any other foods!

5- Mangosteen — Finally, you can also get the health benefits of mangosteen… by trying them out fresh. They are very delicious. You can find them in many Asian markets. Even at $5 a pound, you’re still going to get a better deal than you would get on the Xango juice. And if you ever travel to Costa Rica in September, or Asia in the winter, you’ll get all of the mangosteens you can eat, at dirt cheap prices."

Unsweetened dried cranberries and cranberry juice-- other ways to enjoy cranberries

by Bryanna Clark Grogan
First published in The Island Word from Courtenay, BC, and then in my Vegan Feast subscription newsletter.

I was once teaching a cooking class and meantioned the power of antioxidants to protect us from ‘free radicals”. One woman quipped, “I married one of those, and he’s not free or radical anymore!”

But, to get serious, “Free radicals”, in the case of our bodies’ internal workings, are like gangs of vandals in your body. These molecules are released when oxygen is burned along with fuel for energy in your body (so free radical production is as natural as breathing). Free radicals have at least one extra electron, which gives them a negative charge and drives them through your body, scavenging for cells with which they can react. These reactions can damage DNA and other substances in your cells. Your body’s natural defense system, ideally, should be able to cope with this. But environmental assaults on the body, such as ultraviolet radiation, tobacco smoke, the wrong kinds of fats, alcohol, injury, over-strenuous exercise, chronic disease, and environmental pollution, can overpower the body's ability to neutralize free radicals, allowing them to cause damage to the structure and function of the body's cells.

That’s where antioxidants come in.

Antioxidants are the most widely known of the phytochemicals. These antioxidant molecules exist as vitamins, minerals and other compounds, and they have a positive charge, so they can neutralize the free radicals. When you are young, your cells usually have the capacity to repair much of the damage themselves, but, as you age, the body’s ability to repair itself diminishes (sigh). So, as you age, you need more antioxidants to prevent and repair the free radical damage.

Heart disease, Alzheimer’s, cancer, autoimmune diseases, degenerative retinal damage, and stroke are only a few of the conditions which are now thought to be related to free radical damage in some way.

We shouldn't take an antioxidant pill (not there aren’t people out there trying to sell them to you!) because we haven’t even identified them all yet (it is estimated that there are about 4000)! The most studied antioxidants include vitamins C and E, betacarotene and the mineral selenium. You CAN take pills for these particular antioxidants, but recent studies are showing that—surprise, surprise!-- they are more efficacious when taken in food. And a whole lot tastier, too. So, do like the healthiest and longest-lived people in the world, the Okinawans, and eat 10 fruits and vegetables every day!

In a recent USDA study, the antioxidant levels in over 100 different foods were analyzed. Fifteen out of the top 20 ranked foods that help protect cells from the damage caused by "free radicals" are fruits or veggies. Several dried beans ranked high, as well.

The Top 20 antioxidant foods, according to a USDA ranking by antioxidant value per serving size: (notice that ALL of these foods are grown in North America and are relatively inexpensive-- some can even be picked wild)

1.) Small red beans (dried)
2.) Wild blueberries (some people say that these are #1, but every list I’ve seen list them #2)
3.) Red Kidney beans
4.) Pinto beans
5.) Blueberries (cultivated)
6.) Cranberries
7.) Artichokes (cooked)
8.) Blackberries
9.) Prunes
10.) Raspberries
11.) Strawberries
12.) Red Delicious apples
13.) Granny Smith apples.
14.) Pecans
15.) Sweet cherries
16.) Black plums
17.) Russet potatoes (cooked)
18.) Black beans (dried)
19.) Plums
20.) Gala apples

From “Becoming Vegan” by Vesanto Melina, RD and Brenda Davis,RD, p.148)

“Cooking can alter the structure of phytochemicals, resulting in very different health effects. In some cases cooking increases the availability of phytochemicals, while in others it is reduced. For example, lycopene is better absorbed from the cooked tomatoes than from raw tomatoes. Cooking can also change phytochemicals, giving them entirely different properties. For example, when garlic is cooked in water, vinyldithiins are produced; when cooked in oil, ajoenes are formed. It looks as though we are best to include a variety of both raw and cooked foods in the diet.”

Here are some recipes on this utilizing these foods, but be sure to check the Recipe Links page for more berry, pomegranate and plum recipes, and recipes using pecans, beans, artichokes, and potatoes. There's a list of apple recipes here.




jocelyn said...

eek, i agree. travelling in southeast asia woke me up to how cheaply i can buy several kilos of mangosteens. a street vendor even cracked one open for me to try for free. i was totally shocked when i read about them appearing in New York stores for outrageous prices.

they're incredibly tasty but i refuse to be ripped off!

Kristen's Raw said...

I've been adding a handful of fresh cranberries to my green smoothies this week. YUM!

Kristen's Raw

Spice Island Vegan said...


I grew up with mangostene. Yes, dirt cheap when I had them. Didn't know that they are so healthy when I ate them. They are so delicious. I missed them so much and can't find them here.

I surely don't want to buy the juice if I have tasted the fruit, especially at $50 per bottle.

I totally agree with you!


flax seed said...

Hi Bryanna. I totally agree with you. I get amused everytime I see a beverage product advertise its antioxidant and even phytochemical benefits knowing that these nutrients ought to be obtained from natural sources. I also like cranberry juice though I often think about them as a natural treatment for mild UTI. Nice to know that they are rich in antioxidants as well. -- Gary

julie hasson said...

Excellent post Bryanna! The power of marketing is pretty amazing, isn't it?

VeggieGirl said...

I couldn't agree more - people need to focus on incorporating fresh, whole produce into their diets; NOT juices!!

mmm, that cranberry-rosemary-tofu dish looks amazing - so festive for the holiday season!

incredible post as always, Bryanna!!

Anonymous said...

Well, it's nothing short of scandalous. Vomit fruit... that a pretty picture, too.

The breast of tofu looks absolutely delicious. I'm going to print that recipe out.

by the way Bryanna, I have a cold right now and I've been drinking hot cups of your homemade chicken-style boullion powder, diluted in water, of course. (Although I have been seen eating the powder on it's own a couple of times :p)
Since making your cutlets for the first time, I've been using only that powder in soups and other. It is amazing and you amaze me.

On another note, I don't know if you have been told but Everyday Dish is now available in Quebec :)

Scott said...

With all due respect, while your article is well written and passionate, I find it filled with quite a few factual errors on mangosteen. I can't comment on the other fruits as I have not studied them.

The mangosteen, however, I am quite familiar with. I am not going to take every misstatement to task, but I would like to hit on some key points.

You are comparing the fruits based on their anti-oxidant properties alone. You are comparing apples to tennis shoes. There are a great many other scientifically documented properties of the mangosteen besides anti-oxidant... hard research, including some double blind human studies, on the mangosteen confirms the Xanthones it contains are powerful anti-oxidants, yes, but they also show them to be anti-microbial, anti-inflammatory and a COX-2 specific inhibitor and more.

Go to http://www.pubmed.com and search for "mangostana mouthwash" and you're find a concise double-blind human trial that clearly demonstrates using a pericarp extract of mangosteen is an effective treatment for halitosis, plague and gingivitis reducing PBI (papillary bleeding index) significantly. For that matter, go to PubMed and search for “mangosteen” or “Xanthones” and see the long list of publications that appear going back for decades. If you read them all, you’ll find a quote from one researcher who comments that given the biological activity of the mangosteen and the amount of research that had been performed he is surprised no one has brought it to market as a commercial product. (Paraphrased)

There are plenty of studies available to support the claims that mangosteen is an effective healing agent... as over a thousand years of practical use by traditional healers would tend to imply. While simply being in a database is not any indication of effectiveness, there are 138 known uses of mangosteen in traditional healing. While scientific research is needed to determine how and why the mangosteen works as a healing agent, and to quantitatively determine how effective an agent it is for a given ailment, the research is not what makes it work, it’s who explains how it works. Healers would not use it for a thousand years if it did nothing. They use because it works. But that’s wandering off into a philosophical debate.

Another point you comment on is the fact that mangosteen juice contains none of the fiber. Wrong. Those products, such as XanGo that you cite, which use the whole fruit puree do in fact contain the fiber. It's quite visible in the bottle. In fact, XanGo has enough that when settled the pulp occupies 1/4 to 1/3 of the bottle. Yes, that is less fiber than if you ate the whole fruit, including the rind, but to say it contains no fiber is misleading.

In addition, your citation of the benefit of the fiber would imply you are talking about the benefits of fiber on the digestive system. There is more than ample historical, scientific and anecdotal evidence that mangosteen is a highly active biological agent in the maintenance of a healthy digestive system. Again, I would encourage the interested reader to visit PubMed and read the research papers on the subject.

The problem is that the primary benefit of the mangosteen is NOT in the fruit, it is in the pericarp (rind) of the fruit -- which tastes horrid. Buying whole mangosteen in a market will do nothing for you because you will not eat the rind. The Xanthones and other key phytonutrients are contained in the pericarp, the flavor is in the fruit’s pulp. When you buy whole mangosteen and eat it, you get the natural sugar, a few vitamins and a wonderful flavor, and throw away the healthy part. The benefit of products such as XanGo is in the fact that they deliver the whole fruit benefit in a consumable fashion that is not a barrier to consumption.

Another point you are in error on is price. You are accusing the manufacturers of these products of hyping the fruit, and then you hype the price to make your counter point. You quote the price as being $40 for these juices... that's nearly double the actual price of $25 per bottle for XanGo. At $25 per bottle, the price you are paying per serving is slightly less than the price of a bottle of vitamin water at the grocery market.

On sale, a bottle of Dasani Plus will cost you a minimum of $1 and contains less nutrition. Consider that XanGo contains a whole fruit puree of mangosteen along with grape, strawberry, cherry and quite a few other natural fruits (to overcome the bitter taste of the pericarp) all of which are natural. There are no concentrates, extracts, preservatives or added sugars. On the other hand... bottled vitamin water is just that... bottled water (probably less safe than your tap water) and a squirt of added vitamins. And it costs more?

I could add more, but I've already said enough. Yes, there are other fruits and fresh produce you can eat that are healthy for you. However, none of them contain the 40+ Xanthones found in the pericarp of the mangosteen, representing far more in health and wellness than just anti-oxidant properties, and even if you could buy fresh whole mangosteen outside of the Asian markets, you would not gain the health benefit of the fruit because you wouldn't eat the rind.

There's nothing wrong with opposing points of view. However, I would caution confusing uninformed passion for factual debate. A mind and a parachute are much alike… both must be open to work. Do some objective research.

Mansi Desai said...

Hi! I cam here for the first time and love your blog..there are some really nice vegan recipes..I'm a born vegetarian too, and am experimenting with vegan food these days:)


Bryanna Clark Grogan said...

Scott, seeing as how I don't promote mangosteen juice and you do, who is the more objective?

Bryanna Clark Grogan said...

Please read the reports by Ralph Moss on mangosteen juice-- links above in the text.

Scott said...

Bryanna --

I can respect that you would assume my judgment is clouded by the fact that I do promote a brand of mangosteen juice. However, I would make the point that I promote it because I studied, not that I studied it because I promote it. I’ll also point out that I said nothing about it nor solicited anyone. I simply debated with you some of the things you said.

Yes, I have long since read the article to which you refer… it’s the same article that every person I meet who wants to prove to me that mangosteen is a scam points to. Opposing points of view are allowed and I accept that Mr. Moss believes as he does, though I think much of his reasoning is flawed and guided by western allopathic thinking.

I would invite you to read the writing of Dr. Amod Tootla, voted by Cambridge University to be one of the top 2000 scientists of the 21st century and voted by the Consumer Research Council of America to be one of the top surgeons in America. He specializes in treating colon cancer and is one of the world's premier robotic colon cancer surgeons. His point of view is quite the opposite of Mr. Moss' -- he has over 1000 of his patients using mangosteen and is a vocal advocate of its use. Would you suggest a man of his standing is a quack?

It's never hard to find someone who will argue to the death why something is not right. In the Spanish Inquisition, one could be put to death for suggesting the Earth was not the center of the universe. Such a way of thinking has not changed with "modern science" either. People's careers are still put to death for daring to go against conventional wisdom. Yet, lessons I was taught in my youth as being hard science fact have been disproven and re-written in my own lifetime. We never change.

The fact of the matter remains that facts are facts. To say there are no human studies of the mangosteen is false. This is not simply an opinion… you have only to read PubMed to know this. By way of proof: the following link is the most recent human double blind study published 9 January 2007: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/sites/entrez?Db=pubmed&Cmd=ShowDetailView&TermToSearch=17274236&ordinalpos=10&itool=EntrezSystem2.PEntrez.Pubmed.Pubmed_ResultsPanel.Pubmed_RVDocSum

There are more.

In addition, there is ample scientific study – all of which is plainly visible -- to explain what the agents in the mangosteen are and what biological activities those agents demonstrate. Science is beginning to unravel the details of the mangosteen, to explain it, but that does not alter the history of its usefulness or the weight of evidence as to its effectiveness.

I still stand on the point that you cannot compare the mangosteen to a simple apple juice or cranberry juice, or other off-the-shelf fruits and vegetables. The benefit of the mangosteen is in its Xanthones and those compounds do not exist in any other fruit or vegetable we eat. Again, this is not a statement of subjective opinion driven by a desire to market a product... it's a simple fact.

Furthermore, buying the fruit in the market is not a substitute for buying a prepared whole fruit product unless the buyer is willing to throw away the tasty pulp and eat the bitter and vile rind. Which I doubt is likely. The benefit of the fruit is in the pericarp, not the pulp. Again, this is not a greedy marketing driven point of view, rather a statement of fact.

Let me tell you a story about my mother very quickly. She's 70 this coming summer and she suffers from severe migraines... bent over the toilet puking migraines. She has a prescription medication she can take for it. I'm trying to recall the name as I write this, I want to say it's Darvocet but I may be confusing it with another of her pain meds. Nonetheless, this much I do know, it costs her $60 every time she takes a pill, and it doesn't work unless she takes it just as the migraine is coming on.

There's the rub... if she waits until she knows whether she's just got a headache coming on or if it's a migraine before she takes the pill, it's too late to take the pill. On the other hand, if she takes the pill every time a headache is coming on, she's spending $60 on an oversized Tylenol most of the time. Myself... I think it's criminal that one pill costs $60 -- what the heck is in it that costs $60 anyway?

I can't help but wonder what makes that different from charging $25 for a bottle of Mangosteen juice? Which... by the way... also seems to stop her migraines… for about $3.

In any event Bryanna, the point of my posts was that you made several misstatements in your blog entry. I posted the facts in response.

There are human studies. The price is not $40, it is $25. Buying and eating the fruit alone does not provide the same benefits because the Xanthones are in the rind, not the fruit. You cannot compare mangosteen to other fruits and vegetables on the merits of anti-oxidant capacity alone as mangosteen offers far more benefits than this singular point of comparison.

Yes, I am driven by the fact that I promote a brand of mangosteen to ensure that misstatements are not perpetuated and people are given accurate information from which they can make informed decisions. We are all driven Bryanna... I by my business, you by your need to sell your books and Mr. Moss by his need to promote his reputation.

However, facts speak for themselves.

What is telling is that rather than counterpoint what I said in my post, you chose to attack my integrity instead -- you ignore my factual statements and suggest to your reader that I have a motivation to be misleading them (perhaps lying?).

alphablogs said...

great blog, great post! blogged about it here


Bryanna Clark Grogan said...

Thanks, alphablogs-- good to know about canada-9-5!

colleen said...

I read this post awhile back and this morning saw the following from Dr. McDougall in my inbox:

...so there's another good doctor on a similar "rant" -- well said both times. Somehow this has become a thorn in my side, too...

Bryanna Clark Grogan said...

Thanks for that link, Colleen! Excellent article!