Superfruit is the term given to fruits that are highly nutritious, contain numerous phytochemicals and are thus marketed as being able to prevent certain diseases. This term was coined in the past 5 years and though many are exotic fruits from areas outside the United States, others are grown in areas around the country and have been in consumption for years.
The phytochemicals found in fruits have the ability to detoxify, prevent the oxidation of cells (antioxidants), prevent certain diseases (some even protect against cardiovascular disease) and some are believed to have the ability to prevent cancer.
Scientific evidence of the health benefits of these fruits is often widely distributed and readily available. The quest to slow down the aging process is the main reason for the fast growing popularity of any fruit that is "newly" discovered to have any of the previously mentioned benefits. The fruits are often marketed in the forms of juices, purees, powders, teas, oils, sauces, jams, ice creams, and capsules or tablets. Some topical products such as face masks, creams and lotions, soaps, and even hair care products, contain superfruits. It seems to be that if a certain fruit can be made into a particular product and at the same time the user benefits from its nutritional and phytochemical content, the product is made available.
Included in this list is Goji, Acai, Blueberry, Mangosteen, Cranberry, Red Grape, Mango, Seabuckthorn (Seaberry), Strawberry and Papaya. These are the more popular ones.
Goji: Also known as Wolfberry, this fruit is mainly grown in northern China. High in vitamins A and C, polyphenols and carotenoids (beta-carotene is the source of the vitamin A), it is an antioxidant, a detoxifier and is also beneficial for the maintenance of eye health. This fruit is also a source of minerals such as selenium, magnesium, potassium and zinc.
Acai: A native of Brazil, this fruit is probably the most popular one of them all. It can also be found in Peru and Panama- to name a few other countries. Containing protein, fiber, omega fats, phytosterols, lignans, the antioxidant vitamin E and numerous anthocyanins, it provides cardiovascular, cholesterol lowering, weight management and cancer prevention benefits.
Blueberry: Grown in many states across the country, many have known about the benefits of this fruit for years (it also grows in many parts of Canada, Europe and South America). Blueberries contain vitamin C and are good sources of fiber and polyphenols such as resveratrol and anthocyanins. It is therefore believed to be a very good antioxidant, anti- aging fruit. Studies are being done to find out if this fruit also has favorable effects on the memory, blood glucose levels and the cardiovascular system.
Mangosteen: Rich in xanthones, this fruit has antioxidant properties (protect cells from the damage of free radicals) and is therefore often marketed as being able to prevent cancer. Presently though, it is used mainly for its antioxidant benefits. It is found in parts of South Eastern Asia. Research is being done to find out if it has anti-inflammatory properties.
Cranberry: Cranberries are grown widely across the United States and in Canada. Similar to blueberries, this fruit is also high in fiber, vitamins A and C and manganese. It has a high level of anthocyanins and proanthocyanidins- the reason for its characteristic taste, and also its color. The regular consumption of cranberry juice reduces the occurrence of urinary tract infections (UTIs), although cranberry juice does not treat infections that have already occurred. Presently this fruit is used widely to prevent UTIs and for its anti-oxidant properties. It is thought to possess cancer prevention qualities- not proven yet. Clinical trials are underway to confirm its effects in the areas of diabetes and cancer prevention.
Red Grape: Grown in the state of California, many countries in Europe and in at least one territory or country in each of the other continents, this fruit contains a high amount of anthocyanins. Among the other polyphenols it contains are resveratrol and quercetin. Vitamins C, K and B1, B2 and B6, potassium and manganese are among the nutrients that can be obtained from red grapes. For years this fruit has been used to treat venous problems; weak blood capillaries. It is believed to have cardiovascular benefits and slow down the aging process especially because of the recent studies involving resveratrol.
Mango: This tropical fruit is widely found in Indian, Asia, Africa, Mexico and the West Indies. It is not only high in its phytochemical content but also in its nutritional value since it is high in protein and fiber, and contains vitamin C, the B vitamins, copper, potassium, omega fats, amino acids, carotenoids including beta-carotene and lutein and numerous polyphenols. Thus, a good antioxidant, its effects on cancer prevention is presently being studied.
Seabuckthorn: Widely found in Russia, China and Tibet, this fruit is probably not as popular as it should be because of its lemon-like taste and the fact that the pulp is high in saturated fats. Nonetheless, it is high in vitamins A, C and E, fiber and beta-carotene. It also contains B vitamins, amino acids, potassium, calcium, iron, magnesium, phytosterols and omega fatty acids. Seabuckthorn is used in cases of arthritis, for heart health and immune system and cholesterol support.
Strawberry: It seems difficult to think of strawberries as a superfruit- probably due to the fact that we can get it all year round in the United States even if it has to be shipped in from Europe and most people have been eating this fruit for as long as they can remember. It is high in vitamin C, fiber and manganese, contains phytosterols, resveratrol and quercetin. This fruit is thus a great antioxidant and anti-aging agent; it also aids in cholesterol level management and heart health.
Papaya: Also known as Paw Paw, this tropical fruit contains papain which breaks down proteins, carbohydrates and fats- the reason for the popularity of papaya enzyme supplements. It also contains high amounts of vitamin C and E, beta-carotene, fiber, potassium and lycopene. Papaya is used by some on intestinal parasites and to help heal wounds.
These products have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. The information contained here is not to be taken as a means to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease. It is also not meant to take the place of information provided by your healthcare professional. It is strictly for informational purposes only.