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The noni berry is a fruit harvested from the morinda citriflia tree. Used extensively in the Pacific Island region, the fruit is heralded as a superfruit because of its high antioxidant content and nutritional values. It is sold in various forms and lauded by many for its purported medicinal qualities.
Morinda citrifolia is a tall, tropical plant that is actually a member of the coffee family. Native to Southeast Asia and Australia, the tree is very popular in tropical areas, especially the Pacific Islands. The plant itself grows to about 20 feet (around 6 m) and has broad, green leaves. It thrives in a variety of terrains but prefers a warm, moist, tropical atmosphere. Known by a number of names including canary wood and Indian mulberry, the tree blooms with small, white flowers that yield fruit year round.
The fruit of the morinda citrifolia, known as the noni berry, is a knobby, oval fruit, growing to about 4 inches (approximately 10 cm) in length and around 2 inches (about 4 cm) in diameter. Before it matures, the fruit has a yellowish-green color, but as it ripens, the color lightens considerably until it’s almost white. As it ripens, the berry puts off an unpleasant odor that tends to deter pests. Inside, the noni berry has a pulpy-white middle riddled with a host of small, dark seeds.
Although the noni fruit has a bitter taste and strong smell, Pacific Islanders use it extensively for a number of medicinal purposes. For instance, people claim it helps alleviate digestive disorders, menstrual cramps, and flu-like infections. It is also used to treat liver disease, diabetes, and blood disorders. Additionally, the berry is touted as a mood enhancer and is believed to help with mental concentration and focus.
Nutritionally speaking, the noni berry is considered a superfruit because it is relatively high in antioxidants and other nutrients, such as fiber, potassium, iron, and calcium. Due to its rich levels of antioxidants, it has joined the ranks of other cancer-fighting foods such as avocados, broccoli, and acai berry. Basically, foods that are high in antioxidants have been shown to assist with the elimination of cancer-causing free radicals in the human body.
Products made from the noni fruit have become increasing popular among mainstream retailers. Stores and other health food providers promote the berry in various consumable forms, including juice, capsules, and powder. Some manufacturers use noni berry extract in inedible products such as soap, lotion, and shampoo. While the noni berry itself might not be the most palatable of fruits, many manufacturers have found ways to enhance or disguise the flavor, including adding it to other beverages such as iced tea.