Super Fruits – An Added Edge to Health

Super Fruits – An Added Edge to Health

Super Fruits, what are they and do we need to eat them to be healthy?

It has been recommended that we try to consume 4 to 5 servings of fruits and 4 to 5 servings of vegetables every day by the American Heart Association. In that group of fruits, it would be wonderful to include super fruits. There is an added edge to adding them into our diet. The reason why is that both fruits and vegetables are loaded with vitamins, minerals, bioactives with health benefits and amazing fiber to help the gastrointestinal tract. Fruits and vegetables help to make up a plant based diet. Lets not forget necessary whole grains in the diet also and quality sources of protein.

 

What are super fruits?

They are fruits that have been around for a long time, but super fruits are super heroes with concentrated nutrients to boost your health. They have been shown to have antioxidant properties and support the inflammatory response in the body.

Their dynamic health benefits have led scientists to study their identification and quantification of different categories of phytochemicals.

Super fruits have many phytochemicals, which includes carotenoids, anthocyanins, proanthocyanidins, phenolic acids and flavonoids. Many have shown to work together synergistically to provide antioxidant activities.

Antioxidants are important because they neutralize the damaging effects of free radicals throughout the body. Free radicals need to be neutralized by the powerful antioxidants or they will damage cells and cell components including DNA.

Super fruits have been described as being a valuable source of functional foods because of their phytonutrient content. Also they are considered in humans to be bio accessible and bioavailable in humans.

 

Super fruits include fruits such as Acai, Concord Grapes, Black Cherries, Pomegranate and Goji Berry.

 

Acai Berries

Acai berries are considered to be a Brazilian “super fruit.” It is a dark purple fruit found in the Amazon region and is one of the most popular foods in the northern area of South America. It is also consumed by people around the world. It is highly concentrated with nutrients providing many health advantages over other foods. Acai has been shown to have anthocyanins that have strong antioxidant activity.

Acai has been shown to help the brain's auditory cortex, which helps to control hearing. Hearing involves nerve cells and circuits to help the brain to hear properly.

A human randomized, placebo controlled clinical study was performed with 30 subjects around 50 years old. These individuals had normal or mild hearing problems. An acai extract or placebo was provided for 3 months. Blood was taken along with some other tests at baseline and after 3 months. The results demonstrated that the acai group had reduced hearing problems. In addition, the acai group had a significant improvement in anxiety over placebo group.

Concord Grapes

Concord grapes are multipurpose fruits that are used in many different foods and drinks. They grow on a vine and are consumed all over the world. This super fruit is used to make jelly and wine. They are jam packed with nutrients and antioxidants. They have demonstrated to provide health to the heart and arteries. They contain amazing phytonutrients, which include carotenoids, resveratrol, phenols and polyphenols. The resveratrol in Concord grapes help to protect the DNA within cells. It also has been shown to have a protective effect on breast tissue cells.

Black Cherries

Black cherry as a super fruit has strong and very dark red to almost black drupe (fleshy type fruit with one seed). That dark lush color is pigment with polyphenols and carotenoids with so many benefits.
In general, cherries are a rich source of vitamin C that provides support to the immune system because of its quality of antioxidants. There are a number of studies in humans that showed that the cherries reduced oxidative stress markers, help blood pressure, joints, help with inflammatory process and helped to improve exercise induced muscle soreness.

Goji berries (Lycium barbarum)

Goji berries are a super fruit that has a long history of use for health benefits in Asian  countries. Although, in the last 20 years they have become popular around the world as a functional food with numerous benefits.

They have been traditionally used in cooking and included in Chinese soups and as herbal tea. They also have been used to make wine, tinctures and juice. The science has shown different pharmacological functions for various body systems including the kidneys, eyes and liver.

Goji berries contain carotenoids, which are the second cluster of biologically active nutrients in this fruit with health benefits. Researchers have identified these carotenoids as being significant because of their antioxidant value on the eyes including for the retina and macula. Research states it has ocular neuroprotective effects

More research is being performed with it for the health of the eyes, for the immune system, the skin, one’s mood and well being and liver function.

Pomegranate seed (Punica granatum)

Pomegranates are a rich red fruit, which contains seeds and known for their antioxidant properties to quench free radicals. They contain a variety of bioactives including polyphenols, which have great antioxidant value. Also they contain tannins and flavonoids, which have pharmacological potential partially because of their antioxidative activity. A point of interest, one of its tannins can be broken down into ellagic acid. It is a compound used in plastic surgeries to prevent skin flap problems.

As a super fruit, it has been used to provide good support for blood pressure, blood lipids, blood sugar and supporting the inflammatory process. It has been used to support breast tissue and prostate health.

 

In summary, eating 4 to 5 servings of fruits and 4 to 5 servings of vegetables every day is essential. However, it is also important to try to include super fruits, which are super heroes with numerous nutrients to boost  health. They have antioxidant properties, support the inflammatory response and provide aid to many body systems.

 

If you have a health condition and or take medication, it’s always best to check with your healthcare provider prior to starting any new diets and/or taking supplements.

 

References

American Heart Association. https://www.heart.org/. 2022.

Chang SK, Alasalvar C, Shahidi F.  Superfruits: Phytochemicals, antioxidant efficacies, and health effects - A comprehensive review. Crit Rev Food Sci Nutr.  2019;59(10):1580-1604.

Kelley DS, Adkins Y, Laugero KD.  A Review of the Health Benefits of Cherries. Nutrients. 2018;10(3):368.

Ma, Zheng Feei et al.  Goji Berries as a Potential Natural Antioxidant Medicine: An Insight into Their Molecular Mechanisms of Action.  Oxid Med Cell Long.  2019;2437397

Oppitz SJ, Garcia MV, Bruno RS, et al.  Supplementation with açaí (Euterpe Oleracea Martius) …. Codas.  2022;34(4):e20210076.

Vidović BB, Milinčić DD, Marčetić MD, et al.  Health Benefits and Applications of Goji Berries in Functional Food Products Development: A Review. Antioxidants (Basel). 2022;11(2):248.