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Health & Families

The new acai? Sea buckthorn berries

Sea buckthorn berries, grape-sized orange fruits from a hardy bush that grows in Europe, Asia and the Americas, are being tapped as the next super-food with "huge" potential, scientists say in a new report.

While the berry juice - tart and acidic - is consumed in Russia and other parts of Europe, it is still underused in North America.

But in a study published in this month's issue of Food Research International, researchers from the University of Saskatchewan in Canada and the Indian Institute of Technology in New Delhi found the berries to be nutrient-rich, packed with vitamins A, K, E, C, B1 and B2, fatty acids, lipids, organic acids, amino acids, carbohydrates, folic acid, and flavonoids.

Sea buckhorn oil is currently used to alleviate eczema, sunburns, mouth dryness and ulcers, gastric ulcers, urinary tract inflammations, genital ulcers, sinus inflammation and eye dryness.

Applications of the fruit have also been cropping up in some of the trendiest and most popular restaurants in the world, including Noma. The Copenhagen restaurant - which topped this year's World's Best Restaurant list - is helmed by celebrity chef René Redzepi, who regularly forages for the wild berries in the Danish countryside.

Dishes include a chocolate-covered buckthorn and beetroot meringue. The Danes also use buckthorn berries in pies, jams, Schnapps and beauty products.

Though the fruits are loaded with nutritional potential, researchers also noted that one significant drawback is the short harvesting season and their high moisture content, which make them less flexible to work with.

Recently, Dr. Mehmet Oz - who appeared regularly as a guest expert on The Oprah Winfrey Show - also touted the berries for their wide ranging health benefits on The Dr. Oz Show . The berries were featured as a weight loss supplement for their ability to aid constipation and anti-acne properties.

Sibu Beauty sells a skin care line based on sea buckthorn berries, while Sea Buckthorn Oil sells products for skin care, mouth ulcers, constipation and weight loss.