- So-called "superfruits" — goji, noni, mangosteen and açai — are rich sources of antioxidants, but some of the marketing hype exaggerates the benefits of their juices. There’s no good evidence that drinking them will cure diseases such as cancer or diabetes.
- You can pay as much as $85 for a 1L bottle of one of these juices. On a serve-by-serve basis, many common fruits such as strawberries and apples, contain more antioxidants, and are cheaper.
CHOICE sets out the facts about our testing and responds to the industry's claims about our approach.
Forget about an apple — if you really want to keep the doctor away, you need to knock back a daily dose of juice from goji, mangosteen or some other even more exotic "superfruit". Or so say the distributors of these products. Most suggest having at least one 30mL serve a day.
Açai (pronounced ah-sigh-ee), goji, mangosteen and noni fruits have a long history of traditional use. But it’s only in relatively recent times that they’ve gained the "superfruit" tag, been actively marketed and entered the mainstream. You can even find packs of dried goji berries adorning the aisles in Woollies.
So why buy them? The marketing message that’s common to all superfruits is that they — and their derivative products — are packed full of antioxidants. But when CHOICE tested the antioxidant activity of nine juices, we found it wasn’t as high as the marketing hype had led us to expect.
Please note: this information was current as of August 2007 but is still a useful guide to today's market.
We tested the following açai, goji, mangosteen and noni juices:
- Nu Açai and Guarana, from RioLife
- Absolute Red NingXia Wolfberry Purée
- Himalayan Goji Juice from FreeLife
- Medicines From Nature Goji Juice
- Tree of Health Goji Juice Blend
- Xango Whole Fruit Beverage
- Tahitian Noni Juice
- Tree of Health Noni Juice
The CHOICE verdict
Superfruit juices contain a range of nutrients, but marketing spin has vastly exaggerated their health benefits. Until there’s much better scientific evidence, it’s cheaper and wiser to get antioxidants from other fruit (and veg) sources. A wide variety of types and colours of fruit and veg can help protect against diseases such as cancer, heart disease and type 2 diabetes — in part due to phytochemicals such as antioxidants, but also due to other nutrients they contain, including fibre.
Look into the claims and you’ll find there’s very little evidence to back them up. Testimonials abound, but they’re purely anecdotal. Marketers occasionally cite long lists of lab studies as ‘proof’ of the health benefits claimed. While some of the results of these studies are promising, there are few clinical trials, and what happens in a test tube or animal may not occur in humans. CHOICE looked in more detail at the scientific evidence for each fruit and has summarised our findings in Juices compared.
Health and therapeutic claims for food are currently prohibited under the Australia New Zealand Food Standards Code. Several websites for superfruit products pay lip-service to this fact by posting a disclaimer such as “this product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease”. But the health claims that appear above the disclaimer tell a different story. It’s clear that the regulation isn’t being effectively enforced for these products.