Home Magazine Issues April 2010 - May 2010 Health Review: Super Fruits

Super Fruits

Review by Anna Erlandsdotter

Blueberry, Blackberry, Goji, Acai and Chia – why are these berries so healthy?

Suddenly, there they are – the super fruits – with names we can barely pronounce
we find them in snacks, in smoothies and candy – Blueberry, Goji and Acai are just some of the berries called for superb and they are showing up more and more in particular drinks like smoothies and snacks. Super fruits contain an unusual amount of antioxidants and other nutrients that are believed to be particularly useful.

Here are some of the super fruits that are extremely beneficial to one’s health:

Blueberry

The Blueberry is a type of rice that grows wild in Northern Europe. Blueberries are usually coated with a thin wax layer that protects against moisture and drying out and gives them a dull, light blue color. Some berries don’t have this gene and are therefore bright and dark blue. These berries are usually called shoemaker berries and in folklore they were considered to have been poisonous or at least inedible because it was thought that cows and foxes urinated on them.

Blueberries contain antioxidants which include 5 mg of ascorbic acid per 100 grams (recommended daily ration 75-100 mg) and lutein, which is considered good for eyesight. Blueberries strengthen the aorta, treat diarrhea and are extremely good for the stomach. The berry is also considered good for the mind and can possibly prevent dementia. Some also believe that blueberries may improve night vision and help in regulating blood sugar in those with diabetes. Blueberries were sold in pharmacies as antipyretics, although today we use the berries mostly in juice, jams and cream.

Acai
(Pronounced asa’i) – The richest in antioxidants?

Acai is a small purple berry, about 1-2 centimeters in diameter with a large seed. The berry comes from the palm tree Acaizeiro which is found in South America. Acai is a staple food in many poor areas and now also provides revenue through exports to the world. The berry is rich in antioxidants, vitamins and minerals. Acai includes vitamins B, vitamin C, vitamin E, iron, potassium, magnesium, phosphorus and calcium. The dark color comes from anthocyanins. Anthocyanin is an antioxidant that is also sometimes found in different blueberries, raspberries and blackberries. Studies show that the Acais antioxidant capacity as measured in ORAC is at 102,700 per 100 grams, which is a very high value fruit and berry. Blueberries for example are approximately 2400 per 100 grams. What is unique to the Acai is that they are unusually rich in fatty acids, allowing the calorie content than in the roof, about 600 calories per 100 grams – although the concentration of fibers is very high. The berry has a metallic-like taste, suggesting that the berry is rich in minerals.
Acai can be eaten as it is, but a more common use for them is to blend them into juices. Compared to other juices Acai juice is slightly oily in texture. The flesh is very compact and can be mixed into a paste that can be used for cooking, baking or blending into smoothies.

Goji
(A relative of the tomato)

The Goji berry is normally sold dried either in powder form or as a juice. Goji berries are said to be one of the world’s richest business wear and is said to contain many minerals, vitamins, essential amino acids and antioxidants and the kernels are said to be rich in selenium. These berries are especially rich in vitamin C, vitamin B2, zinc, selenium, iron, calcium and potassium.

The berries are orange-red in colour, 1-2 cm long and grow in high bushes. The Goji berries are related to potatoes, eggplant and tomatoes. The flavor is reminiscent of raisins. Goji berries were traditionally used in Chinese medicine and they have become popular in the food industry where they are often counted among the super fruits.
Goji berries are grown in Northwest China particularly in Ningxia Province where the Yellow River brings a rich flow of minerals and salts, but they can also be found in the United States.

Goji are among other things good to eat as snacks or mixed in muesli. The berries can also be used in soups and teas. In China they are used for flavoring wine, beer and instant coffee.
In traditional Chinese medicine it is believed that the Goji berry is good for your vision, partly because they contain carotenes like zeaxanthin (this is one of the two carotenoids contained within the retina of the eye. Within the central macula, zeaxanthin is the dominant component, whereas in the peripheral retina, lutein predominates). The Goji berry also contains vitamin C and zinc that are beneficial for just the eyes.

Blackberry

The Blackberry is not only a hi-tech business phone it is also one of my favorite super fruits, both for its flavour and its usefulness. Blackberries are a collective name for several species from the Rosaceae family and the most common of these are the sweet blackberries. The species grow in dry, warm, preferably sunny conditions and require a mild and even climate. They occur mostly in Sweden and Norway’s west coast, although sweet blackberries are relatively widespread throughout Sweden and Norway. They are also sometimes referred to as the “black raspberry” and the “bear-raspberry”.
The ORAC value of the blackberry is at 2 036 and is one of the foods that contains the most antioxidants, more so than strawberries, cranberries and raspberries.

Among the antioxidants are anthocyanins and several other phenolic compounds like vitamin C, vitamin E and lycopene. Blackberries also contain lignans. Lignans are phytoestrogens, substances in plants that are similar to estrogen, and they are believed to protect against certain cancers. They have protective properties against cancer and cardiovascular diseases. When frozen they are excellent, but now you can also buy fresh blackberries all year round – unfortunately they are quite expensive. Blackberries are tasty to eat as a jam. Nowadays you can buy blackberry juice which makes this super fruit more accessible than ever.

Chiaseed / Chiaflour
(Reduces the craving for sweet things)

Another super food that appears increasingly in products and in the media is Chiaflour which is extracted from the Chiaseed. Chiaseed has been used for thousands of years by Indians in Southern and Western Mexico as energy supplements. The seed is grown at high altitudes in the Andes. The South American grain is related to sage and the seeds are ground into flour or powder. Chiaflour is a unique product because of its high content of omega-3s, fiber, high protein, vitamins, minerals and antioxidants. Chiaflour includes vitamin B, calcium, phosphorus, zinc, copper, magnesium and 18 amino acids. Chiaflour contains no preservatives or additives and is gluten free.

Chiaflour has a neutral taste and can be used to sprinkle directly over a salad, pasta or other dishes – try using Chiaflour instead of flaxseed the next time you cook. An easy way to get into using Chiaseeds is to pour 1 decilitre water in a glass along with a heaped teaspoon of Chia and drink it. One glass provides a great feeling of satisfaction. If you let the glass with the water and flour to stand for approximately 30 minutes it forms into a firm gel – the same thing happens in the stomach when we eat the flour. The gel can be mixed in smoothies, jams, marmalade, porridge, bread, yogurt, cottage cheese or sauces.

Chia is also said to reduce cravings for sweets which lessens after a few weeks of daily intake of chia.

Do not be fooled by superlatives

When you buy fruit and berries at a store as opposed to picking them in the wild there is absolutely no guarantee that they will be 100 percent raw and even more can be said about many of the products marketed as super juices and their content of tropical superb. Check the product data carefully! Some of the super juices we buy today are not 100% fruit juices so they are not healthy. There are juices that contain only 13 percent and 1 percent blueberry Acai and in many instances they are mixed with other fruits like grapes which are also healthy, but they are not a super fruit!

Go ahead and enjoy super fruits for a long and healthy life and remember to include a daily regime of physical exercise such as walking, sports and dancing!

For more information, please contact:
Anna Erlandsdotter
31 Acacia Avenue, Kololo – Kampala
Mobile: +256 701 095639 / +256 776 035587