While the word “superfruit” is based more in marketing than science—no single exotic juice blend is a magic bullet for better health—some fruits have more disease-fighting compounds than others. Superfruits are typically those richer in vitamins, minerals, fiber, and unique plant chemicals, and consuming a variety of them may lower your risk for cancer, diabetes, and heart disease.
Paul Gross, author of Superfruits and also known as the “Berry Doctor,” suggests these antioxidant-packed wonders and offers suggestions for how to incorporate them into your diet.
Brimming with vitamins A and C, the tropical fruit’s yellow-orange hue adds a healthy dose of beta-carotene, which promotes eye health and may help fend off cancer and heart disease.
Try it: Top a bowl of oatmeal with cubes of fresh mango and low-fat vanilla yogurt; steam slices of fresh mango in a stir-fry (the heat will soften the fruit’s thick skin); add frozen mango to a smoothie; or grab dried mango pieces for a sweet on-the-go snack.
Also known as seabuckthorn, these berries are packed with vitamins A, C, and E, a powerful trio that’s a rare find in a single fruit and may help reduce your risk for cancer, cardiovascular disease, and inflammation-related conditions.
Try it: Seaberries have an acidic, lemon-like flavor that makes them unpleasant to eat raw. Your best bet is to blend seaberry juice or powder into a smoothie so that other ingredients mask the superfruit’s bitter taste. Look for seaberry products in specialty health food stores or online via retailers such as richnature.com.
Similar in taste and appearance to raisins, though a bit smaller and less sweet, blackcurrants contain 300 percent of your daily recommend vitamin C. They’re popular in Europe, where the dried variety is used to make hot cross buns and blackcurrant juice is added to Guinness beer to heighten the taste of the stout.
Try it: Reap the anti-inflammatory and cancer-fighting benefits a healthier way by whipping up a Superfruit Breakfast Pita, suggests Gross. Combine half of a sliced banana, two diced and pitted dates, and 1 tbsp dried blackcurrants in a bowl. Spread 2 tbsp peanut butter inside a toasted wholegrain pita and stuff with the fruit mixture.
Grown in the rainforests of Brazil and Panama, acai berries are like extra tart blueberries, but have a much higher concentration of antioxidants than the purple fruit. While fresh acai isn’t available in the United States, powders, juice concentrates, and packs of frozen pulp can be found nationwide.
Try it: Juice blends typically contain added sugars to mask the superfruit’s unpleasant taste, so a better way to add acai to your diet is by whipping up a smoothie. Gross suggests an Acai Brazilian Blast: blend a half-cup low-fat or nonfat vanilla yogurt, a half-cup mango chunks, and a half-cup acai juice in a blender until smooth.
Like tomatoes, red guavas contain high concentrations of the cancer-fighting antioxidant lycopene. The tropical fruit is also a great source of potassium and vitamin C. Guavas and guava juice are popular in Central American and Caribbean cuisine, so you can find them in Latin grocery stores or at specialty supermarkets.
Try it: Sprinkle halved guavas with chopped walnuts, brown sugar, grated orange peel, and allspice, and bake or grill them for a warm dessert.
Unless you’re whipping up batches of figgy pudding or gobbling down Fig Newtons, this Mediterranean diet staple can help you stay slim. (Related: The World’s Healthiest Diets) Unlike the way that the insoluble fiber found in fruit and vegetable skins gets flushed out of the body without being digested, the pulp inside figs contains plenty of soluble fiber. This compound binds to liquids in the stomach to form a gummy gel that makes you feel full.
Try it: Snack on whole or dried figs or mix them into homemade trail mix.
Goji berries, or wolfberries, have one of the highest ORAC ratings, a method of measuring antioxidant activity, of any fruit, according to researchers at Tufts University. They’re grown in China where they have been used for centuries in traditional medicine to boost eye health, but they’re not exported fresh. You can find goji products in specialty supermarkets or order them online as a juice concentrate, powder, or dried fruit from sites such as gojiberries.us and richnature.com.
Try it: Like a cross between a cranberry and a cherry, dried gojis can be eaten as-is, stirred into yogurt, sprinkled on cereal, or baked into goodies such as muffins and scones.
This tropical fruit is high in vitamins A and C, and may aid digestion. Along with a hefty amount of fiber, papayas contain two compounds, chymopapain and papain, that help the body produce enzymes necessary for breaking down protein and harmful waste, according to researchers at Cornell University.
Try it: Toss pieces of fresh papaya into a smoothie or use them to add color and sweetness to a summer stir-fry.
The antioxidants and anti-inflammatory compounds in sour cherries make them the perfect pre- or post-workout food. When students in a University of Vermont study drank 12 ounces of tart cherry juice before and after strenuous exercise, they experienced a 4 percent reduction in muscle strength the next day compared with students who were given a placebo—those participants suffered a 22 percent loss in muscle strength.
Try it: Toss fresh or frozen tart cherries into smoothies, stir them into yogurt, or eat them on top of a bowl of cereal.
When you see red, blue, or purple in the produce department, think polyphenols—compounds in fruit’s skin that can lower cancer risk and help reduce chronic inflammation. Although blackberries look identical to black raspberries, the larger, bitterer blackberry is the superior superfruit, as it has more antioxidants.
Try it: Eat blackberries raw and chew the seeds for added nutrients, like omega-3 fatty acids, suggests Gross. If you can’t find blackberries in the supermarket, opt for a premade smoothie, such as Bolthouse Farms’ Berry Boost, a blend of blackberries, boysenberries, raspberries, strawberries, and blueberries.