Noni fruit can be off-putting with its odd appearance and pungent scent, but it’s revered in many Polynesian and Asian cultures as both food and medicine. Globally, it’s become popular for treating a range of conditions, including diabetes and cancer; however, its efficacy hasn’t been proven.
What Is Noni Fruit?
Noni is the small fruit of the noni tree, Morinda citrifolia_,_ a small, evergreen tree that grows from Southeastern Asia to Australia. It is especially abundant in Polynesia, where it is hardy enough to thrive rooted among lava flows.
Historically, the leaves and fruit of the noni tree were consumed and used as medicine to treat numerous conditions including inflammation, abscesses, angina, diabetes, osteoarthritis, rheumatism, backache, joint issues, hemorrhoids, skin allergies, burns and warts.
Recently, noni has attracted attention as a dietary supplement. It is sold commercially in capsules, powders, tablets and teas. Perhaps most popular is its juice; according to a research review published in the journal Foods in April 2018, over 108 million gallons of just one brand of the juice were consumed in more than 80 countries during the first 12 years it was available commercially.
Nutritional Profile of Whole Noni
Most people in the West rarely consume the whole noni fruit due to lack of availability and a smell and flavor that is repellant to unaccustomed taste buds. It has been described as having a flavor similar to bad cheese and a smell akin to vomit.
But if you happen to have access to the fruit and have a taste for it, eating it will add a range of nutrients to your diet not unlike many other fruits. According to a review published in Nutrients in May 2017, water makes up 90 percent of noni fruit, and the remainder is dry matter comprised of fiber, protein, minerals and vitamins. Protein constitutes a little over 11 percent of the dry matter, and the primary amino acids present are glutamic acid, aspartic acid and isoleucine.
Ten to 12 percent of the dry matter is composed of minerals, including calcium, sulfur, potassium, magnesium, sodium, phosphorus and selenium. The most abundant vitamin in noni is vitamin C, of which there are 250 milligrams per 100 grams, or 3.5 ounces. That’s more than four times the daily value for the nutrient, according to the National Institutes of Health.