The noni berry is the fruit of the evergreen shrub known as canary wood, which is native to tropical areas of the South Pacific and Australia. Also known by its Latin name, Morinda citrifolia, noni is one of a handful of foods known as super fruits. According to a CBS News report, super fruits are high in antioxidants and nutritional value.
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The National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine states that noni has antioxidant properties. Antioxidants neutralize rogue free radicals--oxygen molecules that are not paired with cells and float freely through the body--that mutate otherwise healthy cells. The American Dietetic Association states that mutated cells can lead to inflamed cells, reduced immunity and accelerated signs of aging. They also have the potential for cancerous growth.
The University of Illinois-Chicago's College of Medicine studied noni's effect on cancer. Scientists tested a dietary supplement on laboratory animals and monitored them for the growth of cancer DNA. The trial showed substantial reductions in heart, lung, liver and kidney cancer formation. UIC later tested noni's impact on cancer growth in smokers. Cancerous DNA was reduced by nearly half in the more than 200 smokers in the trial who took the noni supplement. Both studies conclude that noni may reduce cancer risk in both smokers and non-smokers alike.
Noni is high in phenolic hydroxyl, an amino acid key in heart health. A team of Japanese scientists looked at how noni affects human cholesterol. The amino acid prevents the oxidation of low-density lipoprotein, what doctors call bad cholesterol. Oxidized LDL leads to arteriosclerosis--plaque buildup on the walls of arteries--and restricted blood flow. The trial showed that noni "exhibited remarkably strong activities" due to the concentration of the amino acid.
Noni's acidity level makes it an effective fungus fighter. A 2006 study at Clark Atlanta University showed that noni inhibited the conversion of the relatively harmless fungus candida albicans into a contagious, infecting fungus. Thai researchers studied noni's activity on the oral form of candida albicans. Again, the berry showed an antifungal effect when used in high enough concentrations.