By Lisa James
We know that fruits are not a bad choice as snack options go: They generally provide fiber, along with all sorts of important nutrients, in a convenient package. It’s also pretty well known that the downside of too much fruit consumption lies in the sugar fruits contain.
So what makes a fruit, well, super?
Concentrated power is the key: Superfruits tend to pack a heavier health punch thanks to their higher nutrient-to-sugar ratios, making them worthwhile additions to all but the strictest of diets.
These plant versions of Superman now come from practically every continent except Antarctica, in addition to the myriad islands that dot the South Pacific seas. And while everyone’s list of fruits that deserve the term “super” will vary, here is a quick introduction to the most notable of the lot.
Açaí: Antioxidant Superstar
Where It’s From: Central and South America
Traditional Usages: As a densely nutritious food; traditionally served with tapioca in northern Brazil
Modern Research Shows: Loaded with anthocyanins, achieving extremely high antioxidant activity; serves as a great source of fiber; ongoing research reveals other potential effects, including a possible role in helping to reduce cholesterol levels†
Black Cherry: Wild and Wonderful
Where It’s From: Eastern North America
Traditional Usages: Jams and pies (the wood being prized for furniture-making); as a folk therapy for gout and respiratory disorders, and as a stomach tonic†
Modern Research Shows: The cherry’s antioxidants appear to inhibit an enzyme called xanthine oxidase, a major source of harmful free radicals; other phytonutrients may support its traditional use in helping to ease symptoms associated with gout and other arthritic conditions†
Blueberry: Brain Food
Where It’s From: North America; now grown also in Australia, New Zealand and parts of South America
Traditional Usages: Jams, jellies, and baked goods; leaf tea long used by folk healers to deal with blood sugar issues and urinary tract infections†
Modern Research Shows: Having blueberries on the brain is a bright idea—these fruits have helped senior rats keep their mental edge†
Cranberry: A Bladder’s Best Friend
Where It’s From: Acidic bogs throughout the Northern Hemisphere; commercially grown in Canada and the northern United States
Traditional Usages: For kidney stones and as a blood purifier†
Modern Research Shows: Appears to keep bacteria from adhering to the urinary tract, allowing it to help prevent bladder infections; may also interfere with infective agents elsewhere†
Goji: TCM Celebrity
Where It’s From: Mostly grown in China; also known as wolfberry
Traditional Usages: In Traditional Chinese Medicine to enhance immunity, circulation and eyesight†
Modern Research Shows: Contains an abundance of minerals, amino acids and antioxidant phytonutrients; studies suggest goji may help support eye health in seniors as well as energy production and immune function†
Mangosteen: Health Queen
Where It’s From: The South Pacific; now also grown in Hawaii and Central Africa, places which are warm enough to support this ultra-tropical plant
Traditional Usages: The “Queen of Fruits” is not only popular for its exquisite flavor but also as a folk remedy for dysentery, diarrhea and skin conditions†
Modern Research Shows: Contains xanthones, a group of compounds possessing powerful antioxidant properties, along with numerous other healthful phytonutrients†
Noni: Power from Polynesia
Where It’s From: Southeast Asia; now grown from India to the South Pacific
Traditional Usages: Various parts of the tree have been used in folk medicine to bring down fevers, treat coughs, draw out skin infections and ease digestive ailments†
Modern Research Shows: The juiced fruit contains robust antioxidants; also under investigation as a agent that may be useful in various diseases†
Pomegranate: Vitamin C Powerhouse
Where It’s From: The area now known as Iran, from where it spread to the Mediterranean; now also grown in California and Arizona, as well as tropical Africa, Malaysia and parts of Southeast Asia
Traditional Usages: As a refreshing drink and flavoring agent (it was the original basis for grenadine)
Modern Research Shows: Chock full of vitamin C and powerful phytonutrients, this multi-seeded fruit is being studied for possible protective effects on the brain and heart, and for possible antimicrobial properties†
†The information provided is not an endorsement of any product, and is intended for educational purposes only. NaturesPlus does not provide medical advice and does not offer diagnosis of any conditions. Current research on this topic is not conclusive and further research may be needed in order to prove the benefits described.
The conditions and symptoms described may be indicative of serious health problems, and therefore should be brought to the attention of a qualified healthcare practitioner.