Make us your home page
Instagram

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

How super are 'superfruits' such as the goji berry and mangosteen?

We keep hearing about amazing health benefits of "superfruits." What's the appeal? Superfruits demand super prices — sometimes 20 times higher than "traditional" fruit.

Are they worth it? Here's a rundown from Barbara Quinn, a registered dietitian and diabetes educator in California:

Agave nectar is the juice from agave, a fruit native to Mexico. Agave nectar is a "natural sweetener," as are the juices of other fruits. Its benefit, say promoters, is that it is high in fructose, which is absorbed slowly into the body. Agave nectar thus has a low glycemic index, which means it causes lower rises in blood sugars. But it's worth realizing that the high fructose content of agave nectar is seen as a benefit while the same fructose in high-fructose corn syrup is viewed by some as the plague. In fact, agave juice is higher in fructose (85 percent) than apple or pear juice (66 percent) or high-fructose corn syrup (55 percent), according to food chemist Julie Miller-Jones.

Goji berries (pronounced go-gee) are delicate red-orange berries related to tomatoes, potatoes and eggplant. A native fruit of China, goji berries are rich in vitamin C and beta carotene, potent antioxidants that help keep our body cells intact and healthy. And like other brightly colored fruits and vegetables, goji berries are said to rank high in "Oxygen Radical Absorbance Capacity," or ORAC. This measurement was developed by the U.S. Department of Agriculture to quantify the antioxidant capacity of certain foods. Problem is, I couldn't find goji berries listed on the latest USDA ORAC list of foods.

Acai (ah-sigh-ee) is a small purple berry native to the Amazon rainforest. Acai berries are especially rich in vitamins and minerals and are reported to be extremely high in antioxidant properties that protect cells from oxidation damage. Because the acai berry is so delicate, it is mostly marketed as a juice.

Mangosteen is not related to the mango. It is a purple-skinned tropical fruit with a white pulp. It is the bright-colored skin of the mangosteen that contains most of its phytochemicals, natural plant substances with health benefits. Studies on animals show that mangosteen may help relieve inflammation, a condition related to chronic diseases like arthritis and heart disease.

So, are these foods really super foods? Or are they just other fruits in our arsenal of plant foods known to have beneficial effects on our health? Unfortunately, human research is lacking and anecdotal information is rampant.

If you can afford them, go for it. But locally grown, brightly pigmented produce is always the healthiest choice.

How super are 'superfruits' such as the goji berry and mangosteen? 09/01/08 [Last modified: Tuesday, November 2, 2010 2:35pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

Copyright: For copyright information, please check with the distributor of this item, Tribune News Service.
    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. On the Camino de Santiago, Day 21: Tears of love and parting mark the beginning of the final leg of a pilgrim's journey.

    Travel

    Day 21: León to Hospital de Orbigo: 32.6 km, 8.75 hours. Total for Days 1-21 = 498 km (309 miles)

  2. Pinellas detectives investigating shooting that led to car crash

    Public Safety

    LARGO — Pinellas Sheriff's detectives are investigating a shooting that investigators said led to a man crashing his car after he was shot in the abdomen early Tuesday.

  3. Trump tweets, McCain return set stage for health bill vote (w/video)

    National

    WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump urged Republicans to "step up to the plate" for Tuesday's crucial Senate vote on their bill eviscerating much of the Obama health care law. The stage was set for high drama, with Sen. John McCain returning to the Capitol to cast his first vote since being diagnosed with brain …

    President Donald Trump, accompanied by Vice President Mike Pence, Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price, and others, speaks about healthcare, Monday, July 24, 2017, in the Blue Room of the White House in Washington. [Associated Press]
  4. Teenage driver livestreams crash that killed sister in California (w/video)

    Accidents

    FRESNO, Calif. — A teenage driver lost control of her car while she was livestreaming on Instagram and recorded part of the crash that authorities say killed her younger sister in California.

    This July 22, 2017 photo provided by the Merced County Sheriff, shows Obdulia Sanchez in Merced, Calif. Sanchez has been arrested in California on suspicion of causing a deadly crash that she recorded live on Instagram. She was booked into the Merced County Jail on suspicion of DUI and vehicular manslaughter after Friday's crash that killed her 14-year-old sister and badly injured another 14-year-old girl. [Merced County Sheriff via AP]
  5. Fiancee: Clearwater driver in truck trafficking case helped people

    Nation

    LOUISVILLE, Ky. — When a long-haul truck driver from Clearwater called his fiancee Sunday from a jail more than 1,000 miles from home, he had only a few minutes to describe the gruesome events that led to him being charged with a crime in which he could face the death penalty.

    James Mathew Bradley Jr., 60, of Clearwater, center, is escorted out of the federal courthouse following a hearing, Monday, July 24, 2017, in San Antonio. Bradley was arrested in connection with the deaths of multiple people packed into a broiling tractor-trailer. [Associated Press]