Indian gooseberry - the new superfruit?

By Alex McNally

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags Antioxidant Fruit

A plant extract based on the Indian gooseberry has an
antioxidant capacity higher than scores of other fruits, including
blueberries and strawberries, the manufacturers claim.

Based on the Phyllanthus emblica, manufacturers Natreon Inc say its patented Capros extract has an Oxygen Radical Absorbance Capacity (ORAC) value of 1770 - twice that of acai and about 17 times that of pomegranate, Natreon said.

Antioxidants have the ability to neutralise free radicals that can damage the body's cells.

Free radicals can build up in the body and cause oxidative stress, which is thought to contribute to the ageing process and several diseases.

If Natreon's claims stack up, then the Indian gooseberry could become one of the hottest new superfruits of 2008.

Chief executive Lucien Hernandex said: "Our ORAC value speaks for itself," and added that the extract is available for the functional foods, beverage and supplement markets.

Clinical studies by the firm are said to have shown potential to improve liver and digestive health.

Natreon, which has a research centre based in India, extracts Phyllanthus emblica through a patented water based process.

The firm boasts that the bioactive tannins in the gooseberry extract are guaranteed to be over 60 per cent.

The secret to the Capros antioxidant effect is the tannins - bitter-tasting plant polyphenols that bind and precipitate proteins - which give a " cascading effect".

This leads to a longer-lasting antioxidant activity, Natreon said.

Berry popular There has been a wealth of popular superfruits over the past few years which have caught consumer attention, such as the blueberry.

Indeed, market analysts have seen much growth in the berry market driven by consumer demand for healthy foods.

Blueberry is currently one of the fastest growing fruits in the UK.

According to market analyst AC Neilsen, sales of blueberries have rocketed by £55 million (€81 million) in two years, from £40 million (€59 million) in May 2005 to around £95 million (€140 million) in the same month of 2007.

On the other hand the UK blackcurrant industry is valued at £10m (c €14.6m).

Aronia has seen a lot of action in the last few years as well.

As an ingredient in Europe, the berry has risen from just two launches of products containing the berry in 1997 to 108 last year, according to Mintel's Global New Product Database.

Europe is leading the way in foods containing aronia - which is thought to have one of the highest antioxidant values of all red and black berries.

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