Aloe vera is the latest food in the Superfood trend, with more than 75 nutrients and 200 active compounds (20 minerals, 18 amino acids and 12 vitamins). In addition to its well-known moisturizing benefits (yes, this is the same plant you may rub on your body to relieve burns, itching and dry skin), studies are beginning to show that aloe has substantial benefits for the immune system, particularly in regulating digestive health and reducing inflammation.
Many companies claim aloe helps with many health concerns, including aiding in weight loss, slowing the aging process, retarding tumor growth for cancer patients, and resisting opportunistic infections in HIV/AIDS patients. Research from UC Davis shows that adding aloe to vitamin supplements, notably vitamins C and B12, helps people more readily absorb and use the vitamins.
Many companies are adding aloe to their products in an attempt to create a new class of functional foods, or foods designed to have specific health benefits. Consumers can find aloe gel in drinks and increasingly in other foods in powdered form.
Products common in other countries are finding a market in this country, such as these:
- Forever Freedom has created a line of beverages that combines aloe vera with substances (such as Glucosamine Sulfate and Chondroitin Sulfate) that are helpful for the maintenance of proper joint function and mobility in an orange-flavored juice formula. They have several flavors, including Bits N Peaches.
- Aloe Pura Bio-Active Aloe Vera Juice, Cranberry, designed to help digestive and urinary tract health simultaneously.
- Body Balance from Life Force, which “is a unique combination of aloe vera, grown and processed according to certified organic standards, and SeaNine, a proprietary blend of nine sea vegetables.”
- George’s 100% Aloe Vera Fractionally Distilled Liquid, a refined aloe product that’s purported to taste like spring water. The manufacturer recommends users consume 2 ounces twice a day for optimal digestive health.
- Everest Extra with Aloe is an aloe-flavored water marketed to Hispanics that’s expected to debut in Texas later this year.
Watch for other products coming to the U.S.A. soon, such as aloe yogurt (popular in Japan and parts of Europe) and aloe-filled cereal bars.