Everyone is always searching for the next big thing. And that’s especially true in the nutrition world. Nowadays, it seems the biggest guessing game is all about identifying what will be the next new superfruit. What will capture America’s imagination in the same way as pomegranate, acai and gogi berry.
I’m torn about this whole superfruit thing. There are great fruits in our own backyard, do we really need to scour the Amazon Rainforest and other exotic locales to find our fruit. Often these tropical superfuits are only flavorings or sold in juice form only, so it’s not really a better choice than picking up a whole peach, biting into an apple or eating a bowl of American-grown berries or cherries.
If you can actually find some of these new exotic superfruits and bite into them the same way the indigenous groups do in the Amazon, Peru, Asia or elsewhere, then that’s great. But rarely is the actually fruit even available here to buy in the U.S. Instead, we’re left with only a splash in a juice that’s blended with apple juice, white grape juice and other juices. Or a small amount of pulp is added to yogurt, smoothies, granola bars and other packaged food to create an aura of health.
And I’m tired of this ORAC battle: ”my ORAC value is higher than yours….” This measure of antioxidant capacity has become one of the primary marketing claims made by the superfruits. This is a test-tube analysis and doesn’t necessarily translate to anything that actually happens in our bodies. True, antioxidants found naturally in fruits and vegetables may have health-promoting properties. But focusing on what juice has the highest ORAC value is basically meaningless. And higher is not necessarily better.
Many of these so-called superjuices are sold via multi-level marketing (MLM) and are extremely expensive ($40-$50 per bottle), but the antioxidant values have been shown to be comparable to apple juice. I’ve previously written about the Sly Allure of the Superjuices, and Skeptoid has a great article about Monavie and Other “Superfruit” Juices.
Superfruit juices may be good sources of antioxidants compared to, say, spaghetti or a cheeseburger; but if you want antioxidants, you’ll get far more of them for about 1/100th the price by simply eating common fruit from the supermarket.
Even so, there’s a whole crop of new superfruits that are getting ready for their close-up. They’re all attempting to break through and be the next superstar superfruit:
Maqui berry — A deeply purple berry that grows in remote distant Pantagonia, claims to have the highest antioxidant values of any fruit, a starring ingredient in the latest superjuice sold by MLM distributors
Lulo fruit — A South American fruit, also known as naranjilla, looks like an orange-colored tomato with light-green jelly-like flesh that tastes like pineapple or lemon
Mamey fruit — A taste between apricot, peach and papaya
Cupuacu — A cousin to cacao (cocoa beans), dubbed the “pharmacy in a fruit.” The latest fruit from the Brazilian Rainforest to be featured in a superjuice called Fruta Vida that’s sold through distributors via MLM
Baobab — A traditional plant grown in Africa, known as “dead rat tree” because of the appearance of the fruit
Yumberry — New commercial nickname for the Yang Mei berry from China, also called waxberries
Kiwiberry — Derived from the Actinidia arguta fruit, also known as “hardy kiwi fruit”
Yacon root –Sweet-tasting tubers with a taste like a fresh apple and watermelon combined, contains the fiber inulin
Fejoia – Popular in New Zealand and Australia, also known as pineapple guava or guavasteen
Gac — A Southeast Asian fruit with a traditional history of use of its eye health benefits, rich in lycopene and beta carotene
Indian gooseberry or Amia — A popular fruit used extensively in Ayurvedic herbal preparations, high in tannins
Guarana – A fruit from a shrub native to Brazil and Venezuala, a natural stimulant similar to caffeine
Acerola — Also known as Barbados cherry, bright red fruit well known for its vitamin C content
Aronia — A bright red fruit also known as chokeberries, high in anthocyanins
Pomelo — A Chinese citrus fruit that tastes like a sweet, mild grapefruit
Uchuva — A sweet and tangy Columbia fruit, high in dietary fiber, showing up in trail mixes and nutrition bars, also known as Cape Gooseberry and Goldenberry
Other popular superfruits include mangosteen and noni, which are ingredients in several of the superjuices. You may already be familiar with some fruits that are superfruit contenders: blood orange, black currants and lychee.
The superfruit phenomenon is getting to be too much. That’s why some people are attempting to define what superfruit even means, Comprehensive Criteria for Superfruit Status. There’s even an organization that was created called the Superfruit Information Organization, although I found this site a bit curious. Even though it says the organization was created by “concerned citizens” who want to “band together and let the facts be known!” it seems like they’re just selling superfruit products.
I just wish people would think all fruits are super.