Fruits have always been an important part of the diet and are known for their high nutritional value. Various kinds of fruit come and go in popularity, with some being labelled as super fruits. The latter are said to have a range of health benefits. Some are fairly exotic and new to this country, while others are established dietary fare .
Blackberries are an excellent source of vitamin C, containing twice as much as blueberries. Vitamin C is important for cardiovascular health, the immune system and in lowering blood pressure. It is also effective in helping iron to be absorbed by the body, thereby helping to combat anaemia.
A handful of blackberries provides more fibre than many breakfast cereals, representing nearly a third of the recommended daily amount. Fibre is necessary in lowering cholesterol levels and in maintaining a healthy weight.
Blackberries are also high in anthocyanins. These have antioxidant properties which can help to slow the growth of tumours. The flavonoids they contain can be effective against skin and lung cancer. Blackberries are also beneficial for the health of the eyes due to their lutein content.
Blackcurrants have recently achieved super-fruit status. They have been found to be positively packed with vitamins, minerals and antioxidants. Blackcurrants are rich in vitamin C which aids iron absorption; helps to maintain bones, skin and teeth; and speeds up the healing process.
In addition to containing high levels of cancer-fighting anthocyanin (which also helps with heart disease and cancer), it is thought that blackcurrants delay or possibly even prevent Alzheimer’s. They are also helpful in relieving diarrhoea.
This small blue fruit has been creeping up the super-fruit league. There is a widely held belief that it may help to reduce the risk of cancer, particularly colon cancer, as it contains pterostilbene. Blueberries are also thought to help with the regeneration of brain cells and improvements in memory capacity.
Cranberries have long been known to prevent and relieve urinary tract infections such as cystitis. They are also useful in reducing the adherence of plaque to the teeth. As a result, a mouthwash has been patented using cranberries as one of its principal ingredients. The juice is also good for improving the circulation by increasing levels of “good” cholesterol.
These red berries are high in ellagic acid. If eaten on a daily basis, they may help to prevent cancer cells from developing. They are also the fruit with the highest levels of zinc which is important for male fertility. Finally, they boast vitamin C and folate in abundance.
Some of the exotic fruits that merit a mention for their health benefits include the cowberry (also known as a lingonberry); acerola, which is similar to a cherry; aronia (chokeberry), which is an American blackberry; and the acai and goji berries. These all contain high levels of antioxidants and vitamins, which are important in maintaining health.
To enjoy the benefits of these super fruits, whether the local or more exotic varieties, it is important to eat them regularly as part of a healthy and balanced diet.