There has been a lot of talk about superfoods lately, but have you ever heard of superfruits? Superfruits deliver antioxidants and anti-inflammatory nutrients that can help nourish your body and keep it functioning optimally.
You may also see a lot of overstated marketing claims, but several studies have suggested some benefits to eating certain fruits.
The bottom line is that superfruits are good for you, but so are all fruits. There is no magic pill (or fruit, in this case). For the best outcome, eat a balanced diet that includes three to five servings of fruit per day.
Here are some of superfruit superstars to sprinkle into your diet:
This superfruit is has been used to fight disease by ancient cultures for centuries. More recently, studies have shown that pomegranate has may help prevent diseases.
For example, the fruit might slow prostate cancer growth, according to a 2006 study by researchers at the University of California, Los Angeles in which men at risk for prostate cancer drank pomegranate juice daily.
And a study using the fruit's extract showed it inhibited the growth of lung tumors in mice, according to a 2007 article in the journal Cacinogenesis.
The fruit may even help to reduce dental plaque, according to a 2006 study from Brazilian researchers published in the Journal of Herbal Pharmacotherapy.
Each pomegranate you eat packs a powerful punch of the same free-radical fighting polyphenols that are found in green tea. And a pomegranate may even have more antioxidant power than a cup of green tea because it also contains isoflavones, which are commonly found in soy, and ellagic acid, which is commonly found in berries and nuts both believed to play a role in fighting cancer. These elements each contribute to pomegranate's superfruit title, but experts believe that it's the combination of these things that really helps the body fight disease.
Much like pomegranates, acai berries are loaded with antioxidants, but they are also a chock full of other good stuff, such as dietary fiber, vitamins, minerals, complex carbohydrates, amino acids and essential fats.
And acai berry is believed to help the body fight the effects of ageing better than most fruits, according to a 2008 study in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry.
Still, though much research has been done on the health benefits of this superfruit, Dr. Steve Talcott of Texas A&M University, cautions that the benefits may only be seen when acai berries are added to a balanced diet. So while it may give you a small advantage in ageing, don't be quick to call it the "fountain of youth."
This superfruit is rich in beta-carotene and zeaxanthin, two powerful antioxidants. In addition, zeaxanthin absorbs blue light to protect the retina. Because of this, foods rich in zeaxanthin are believed to decrease the risk of age-related macular degeneration, according to a February study in the journal Optometry and Vision Science. Macular degeneration is the main cause of blindness in people over 65.
Healthy Bites appears on MyHealthNewsDaily on Wednesdays. Deborah Herlax Enos is a certified nutritionist and a health coach and weight loss expert in the Seattle area with more than 20 years of experience. Read more tips on her blog, Health in a Hurry!