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January 23, 2006

Wheat grass, Buddah’s Hand, pomegranates and mangoes

Some time ago making fresh-squeezed juice required a little glass dish, plenty of fruit and a lot of upper arm strength.

These days juicers are stainless steel, electronic gadgets touting names like “Omega 9000,” and juice come with everything from wheat grass to beets, pomegranates to mangoes. Today kicks off National Fresh-Squeezed Juice Week.

Jonathan Eddy, produce clerk at Reasor’s, has out a number of exotic fruits that can be used to make healthy, fresh juices.

“This one is called Buddah’s Hand,” said Eddy. “It smells like a lemon. We also have cherimoya [which looks like a green tomato], and kevani melon, a star-fruit-looking thing that’s really a vegetable.”

Buddah’s Hand citron has been used in religious ceremonies for centuries in Asia, and it’s also used to flavor liqueurs and vermouth. It has a sweeter flavor than lemon, contains no pulp or seeds, and is ideal for using in juices.

Other popular fruits for juices are mangoes, kiwi and papaya, said Eddy.

Daniel Franke, of Oasis Health Foods, is knowledgeable on the benefits of fresh juice.

“Fresh juice is much better for you than bottled,” said Franke. “The pasteurization process kills a lot of the enzymes contained in fresh-squeezed, and enzymes are essential for all living things.”

Franke recommends buying organic produce when making homemade beverages.

“Fresh juices help alkalize the body,” said Franke. “Which helps keep the body glowing and healthy.”

Phytochemicals are found in plants and may prevent some forms of cancer. Phytochemicals are on the cutting-edge of nutritional research, as they also could hold the keys to preventing heart disease, asthma, arthritis and allergies.

According to Living and Raw Foods, an Internet community specializing in fresh food research, many of the phytochemicals nutritional researchers are focusing their attention on are either enzymes, or more often, they are substances that help build or activate enzymes that play essential roles in protecting cells from damage.

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