Why are These Super Fruits So Super

By: Bel Marra Health | Functional Foods | Friday, May 11, 2012 - 01:32 AM

 fruitsFruits are well-known for their health promoting properties. Most fruits are high in a variety of vitamins and phytonutrients, and almost all fruits contain some level of antioxidants. Below is a list of four fruits that are touted as ‘super fruits’ and an explanation as to what makes them so special.

Super Fruit #1: Acai Berry

Acai berries are the fruits from the Acai Palm tree which is native to Central and South America. Acai is quickly becoming popular in the diets of health foodies worldwide and it is touted for its ability to boost the metabolism, enhance weight loss, prevent disease and increase sports performance. Not only is it low in sugar, it also tastes good, with a taste that resembles a combination of red wine and chocolate. Some studies have found that acai is higher in antioxidants than strawberries, raspberries, blackberries and cranberries; and the acai berry is a particularly potent source of the powerful antioxidant – anthocyanins. According to a study published in Agricultural Communications Journal (2008, October 6), the antioxidants in acai are easily absorbed in the body and the consumption of Acai fruits (both in juice and pulp form) results in significant levels of anthocyanins in the blood, within 12 hours of intake. This is significant because preliminary studies have found that anthocyanins can scavenge free radicals.

Super Fruit # 2: Noni Fruits

Noni fruits grow on noni trees in the Pacific Islands; and they are considered functional foods with immense healing powers, amongst the Polynesian population. Noni juice is made by fermenting the noni fruits, and it is sold in health food stores across North America. Noni juice contains a variety of vitamins and minerals and it is high in the following antioxidant-dense phytonutrients: saponins, triterpenes, steroids, flavonoids and cardiac glycosides. The study conducted on rats, found that the consumption of noni juice for 20 days resulted in a reduction in blood sugar levels that was comparable to the reduction obtained from diabetes medication. Adding the juice of noni fruits to the rats diets also reduced liver damage and fatty deposits, which are two problems associated with diabetes. Finally, preliminary research suggests that noni juice can help protect against stress-induced cognitive impairment, and promote both digestive and intestinal health.

Super Fruit #3: Goji Berries

Goji berries are native to Asia, and they have a long history of use as health promoting functional foods in traditional Chinese Medicine. You can buy dried goji berries or goji berry juice in North America and they taste similar to dried cranberries. Goji fruits are high in antioxidants and they are nutritionally dense, containing: beta-carotene, Vitamin C, B-vitamins, iron and amino acids. Goji berries are considered particularly helpful at boosting the immune system and protecting against the oxidative stress that is caused by environmental pollutants. According to a study published in the Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine, goji fruits appear to increase gastrointestinal function, enhance feelings of general wellbeing, increase energy, improve athletic performance, enhance mental acuity and increase quality of sleep.

Super Fruits #4: The Common Berry

Although acai, noni and goji fruits are indeed super fruits, containing a variety of potent antioxidants, they are not as accessible as the common berries — strawberries, blackberries, raspberries and blueberries, which can easily be obtained fresh, frozen or dried at nearly any grocery store in North America. These berries are not only delicious; they are also low in calories, high in fiber and water, and packed with vitamin C, antioxidants and flavonoids. Studies have found that the polyphenols found in these berries promote overall health. Adding these berries to our diets, can also help to prevent oxidative stress, reduce inflammation.

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