the incredible healing power of fruits and juices...

New research in the US has revealed beetroot juice can help keep dementia at bay as it contains nitrate, which helps open blood vessels, boosting blood supply to the brain. What ailments can other popular juices help to treat? A word of caution - while a couple of glasses can be good for you too much can be bad for your teeth and waistline so tablets made of extracts may be a better option.

Pomegranate juice for prostate cancer
Pomegranate contains a cocktail of chemicals which appear to reduce cell damage and potentially kill off cancer cells, according to scientists at the University of California. They asked 50 men with prostate cancer to have a glass (0.24 litres) of the juice daily. They then kept track of the men's levels of prostate specific antigen (PSA), a protein linked to prostate cancer. Usually cancer patients' levels double in about 15 months, but in patients who drank pomegranate juice it took an average of 54 months for their PSA levels to rise. 

Pomegranate juice also helps fight heart disease and lower "bad" LDL cholesterol. Antioxidants in    pomegranate juice may help reduce the formation of fatty deposits on artery walls. (Antioxidants are compounds which help destroy free radicals, harmful molecules produced by the body and environment and which are linked to a range of diseases, including cancer). It is best to have fresh juice where possible, but if not, go for pasteurised juice over concentrates, which can be packed with sugar.

Grapefruit juice for weight loss
By aiding more efficient metabolism of sugars, it can be a useful aid to weight-loss programmes. A US study looked at the benefits of grapefruit by dividing 100 obese people into three groups: one group was given half a grapefruit before each meal, another had a glass of grapefruit juice, the remaining third had no grapefruit.

After 12 weeks those eating grapefruit had lost an average of 1.6kg and those drinking grapefruit juice lost an average of 1.4kg. Those in the control group who consumed no grapefruit lost only an average of 0.22kg. It also enhances the body's absorption of CoQ10, an energy compound vital to our cells and boosts the anti-cancer effect of certain drugs (can adversely interfere with other medication so check with your doctor first).

Cranberry juice for urinary infections
A study conducted this year showed that cranberry juice prevents the growth of the bacteria E.Coli, the most common cause of urinary infections. Researchers who presented their findings to the American Chemical Society showed that within eight hours of drinking a glass of cranberry juice, the juice could help prevent bacteria from developing into an infection in the urinary tract. 

However, contrary to popular belief the juice will not treat cystitis - being acidic it can actually exacerbate discomfort. Can also help to raise "good" HDL cholesterol through high levels of polyphenols, the antioxidants in the fruit.

Apple juice for Alzheimers
Drinking apple juice maintains your levels of the brain chemical acetylcholine, which is vital for memory and brain health (low levels are linked to Alzheimer's Disease), according to a US study. Although the research was conducted on mice, researchers suggest that two glasses (500ml in total) of apple juice a day could have similar benefits in adults. Apple juice is also good for digestion and healthy bowel functions thanks to its high fibre content.

Cherry juice for cramp and gout
Recent studies at Northumbria University have shown that runners who drank the juice of Montmorency cherries twice a day for five days before the London Marathon recovered much quicker and experienced less muscle pain than those who didn't. In addition, cherry juice can help ease the agony of gout by helping the body to excrete uric acid. Drinking a glass of cherry juice every day offers the same health benefits as eating 23 portions of fruit and vegetables one study found. A 250ml serving of the juice contained more antioxidants than five portions of peas, tomatoes, watermelon, carrots and bananas.

Orange juice for heart disease
Orange juice contains an antioxidant called hesperidin, which improves blood vessel function, helping to cut your risk of heart disease. US researchers found that men who drank 500ml of orange juice (containing 292mg of hesperidin) daily had lower blood pressure than those who took an antioxidant supplement. It also helps prevent kidney stones. It is known that supplements of citrate, a substance found in citrus juices, can help slow the formation of kidney stones, but some people find the acidic nature of the pills hard to tolerate.

Pineapple juice for arthritis
The enzyme bromelain, found in the flesh and juice of pineapples, helps the body digest proteins and aids digestion, but also has other major benefits.  When taken on an empty stomach, bromelain acts as an anti-inflammatory agent, which has been shown to reduce arthritis joint pain and swelling.

One study showed a combination of enzymes including bromelain may be a safe alternative to anti-inflammatory drugs for osteoarthritis of the knee. It also helps ease symptoms of coughs and colds and thins the blood.

Acai berry juice for cancer
Acai juice, which is made from a berry found in South America, has been shown to have high levels of antioxidants. Studies by the University of Texas have found that drinking the juice daily can help prevent the development and spread of cancer cells. It also helps aid weight loss by stabilising blood sugar levels.

Purple grape juice for memory loss
A study by psychiatrists at the University of Cincinatti found that a daily drink of the juice improved patients' memory significantly compared with a placebo. Experts think the grapes provide brain-boosting antioxidants. It also helps lower cholesterol and prevents blood clots. The fruit contains higher levels of disease-fighting antioxidant compounds than red wine and apple juice, according to the US Department of Agriculture.

Coconut water for exhaustion
Madonna and Gwyneth Paltrow are among those who drink coconut water (taken from the centre of the fruit; coconut milk is made with the flesh) to speed up recovery after a workout. Enthusiasts have dubbed it "nature's sports drink" because it contains everything you need - fluid for rehydration, carbohydrates for energy and electrolytes (or body salts) to replace what is lost through sweat, but with only 1kJ per serving and no fat. It also helps offset hunger pangs by stabilising blood sugar.

Carrot juice for colorectal cancer
Researchers at Newcastle University isolated a compound in carrots that has been shown to fight cancer and found that rats fed raw carrot juice in addition to their normal food had a one-third lower risk of developing colorectal cancer than rats not given the compound. It is also good for enhancing immunity (thanks to high levels of vitamin C) and aiding digestion.

Tomato juice for sunburn
Researchers have shown that lycopene, the substance that makes tomatoes red, is a great antioxidant. It’s been scientifically proven to help prevent skin from sun damage, perhaps by neutralising the harmful effects of UV light. In tests people who ate more tomatoes had 33% more protection from sunburn. Several studies have shown that a regular consumption of tomatoes is linked to reduced risk of prostate cancer.

Blueberry juice for dementia
Substances in blueberries may help keep the brain healthy, according to a small study at the University of Cincinatti earlier this year.  Researchers looked at the effect of blueberry juice on memory in adults in their 70s who had age-related memory decline. Those who drank 500ml of blueberry juice daily for 12 weeks performed significantly better in memory tests. It is also good for stabilising blood sugar levels, preventing food cravings that can lead to weight gain.

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