Booster Shots

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Not another superfruit!

April 26, 2010 |  3:36 pm

We've written on and off about the relentless marketing of superfruits (and no, they cannot be boring, familiar ones like apples, pears or bananas) that are packed with phytonutrients and are often promoted with such hyperbole you wouldn't be faulted for thinking they could banish disease and old age forever from our doors.

Here's another contender: chokeberry. At a meeting of the Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology -- it's going on in Anaheim at the moment -- researchers at the Beltsville Human Nutrition Research Center (part of the USDA) tested extracts of chokeberry on 18 male prediabetic rats. The scientists found that the rats given water spiked with chokeberry extract for six weeks weighed less than rats that got plain water --plus less abdominal fat, lower blood glucose, lower triglycerides and LDL (bad) cholesterol. There were also signs that the rats might make lower amounts of a protein called IL-6 that is involved in inflammation.

Part of the funding for the study was by Integrity Nutraceuticals International, marketers of a chokeberry extract called CellBerry (which the company website terms a "cellular oxidation support modulator").

OK, so there's no denying that many useful medicines have originated in plants or were first cottoned to by the study of traditional medicine practices. And yes, we're big lovers of fruit and vegetables here at Booster Shots. But one occasionally feels a little bit suckered by all the superfruit jostling. Blueberries one week. Acai or mangosteen the next. Is one really better than another? They're rarely compared side by side.

For gracing the garden, though, there's a lot to be said for the chokeberry. Look at this chokeberry bush in bloom. And these berries!

--Rosie Mestel