An Important Note About Sugar
It is becoming increasingly clear that refined and concentrated (i.e., fruit juice) sugar are probably the most significant health problem in the developing world today. While in the past, we treated sugar as an empty calorie, it is more the case that sugar (and specifically fructose) is a liver toxin. I am rethinking the use of fruit juices, even of super-fruit juices. I think there is still anti-oxidant benefit to certain high quality fruit juices, but this needs to be balanced against the potential harm from the fructose contained in the juice. Super-fruits such as aronia, black currant, etc., which require significant sweeteners need to be re-evaluated. The use of artificial sweeteners may be a possible route, but there may be drawbacks in terms of hormonal signals using artificial sweeteners. This is probably much less of an issue than fructose at this point. Please watch at least one of the videos below. Dr. Robert Lustig and his colleagues at the University of California, San Francisco are leaders in exposing this issue. Those who oppose it include the soda and fruit juice companies, who understandably have a lot to lose.
The first video is the original on this topic. It is oriented most to those with some medical and chemistry (especially biochemistry) background. I feel it is probably important to watch this as the biochemistry and metabolic pathways described in the video really explain the problem. The second video emphasizes more the physiology of the problem, and includes some new information.
See our article: Acai and Super-fruit Juice Comparisons. Six popular products are reviewed and analyzed. These include:
1. Bossa Nova
Superfruit Acai Juice (original)
Exciting New Super-Fruit Products hit the supermarket shelves!Moderately Priced Super-Fruit Juices Hitting the Shelves!
Bossa Nova Acerola Red PeachBossa Nova's Acerola Red-Peach, reformulated to 90 calories
Super-fruits are fruit that tend to have high nutritional value, high anti-oxidant capacity, and high consumer appeal. Some super-fruits are quite common, such as the Concord grape. Others are more exotic, and just starting to make inroads to the United States, such as baobab. Acai is a very successful super-fruit from Brazil.
Acai is the Brazilian palm berry. Acai contains high anti-oxidant capacity, having ORAC scores of around 167 (micromole Trolox equivalent per gram). The acai berry became very popular in large Brazilian cities in the late 1980's, and has since become popular in the United States.
Acai generally comes to the US as either a freeze dried powder, flame dried powder, or fresh frozen. The most potent form is freeze dried powder, followed by fresh frozen. Flame dried powder has a degraded anti-oxidant capacity due to thermal degradation of the fruit by the flame. Fresh frozen also suffers some degradation, but is still a reasonably active anti-oxidant.
Acerola, also known as the Barbados cherry, is a shrub that contains small red fruits, 1/2" ro 1" in diameter. These tangy fruits are loaded with vitamin C, containing 1000-2000 mg per gram in ripe fruit (potentially even more in almost ripe fruits).
Acerola is often used in beverages for flavor and to boost vitamin C. Acerola is grown throughout south and central America, and has been harvested in the US as a source of vitamin C (in Florida)
The aronia berry is a jewel of the American continent. Until recently it has been all but forgotten. As nutritional scientists look for new super-fruits, they have come to realize that the aronia berry is one of the most powerful antioxidant berries in the world. It can be used to produce delicious nutritional products, and is being cultivated in the US and other countries. Aronia berries are one of very few that can compete with acai.
Baobab is a fruit from Africa that has recently been approved for use in the EU and UK, and even more recently has received GRAS status in the US. The baobab super-fruit is naturally dehydrated. It grows on the African baobab tree, and is encased in a thick hard shell. The fruit pulp itself is off-white, and is clumped around seeds and red fibers inside the shell.
The fruit pulp is mechanically removed from the shell and seperated from the red fiber. It has a nutty, acidic taste. Baobab pulp is only about 8% water, naturally, and contains significantly more vitamin C than oranges. The dehydrated form of the pulp means that the fruit does not need to be processed, just mechanically seperate it, and it is ready to use. It is targeted to use baobab fruit pulp for smothies and cereal bars, amongst other possible uses.
Many berries, including the blueberry and cranberry, are considered super-fruits. The red, purple, blue coloring in berries, cherries, currants and grapes are due to anthocyanins and other phytochemicals that are anti-oxidant in nature. Even the common Concord grape has high anti-oxidant capacity
Miracle fruit (Synsepalum dulcificum) is the latest culinary craze. This fruit contains a chemical, miraculin, which effects the taste buds, and for around an hour after eaten, causes sour and bitter foods to taste sweet. Mircaulin has been studied for a number of flavor modification applications.
Though not necassarily nutritionally a super-food, this fruit does have interesting properties. One fad is to have tasting parties, where miracle fruit is consumed, then unusual and sour foods (such as lemons and limes) are consumed.
The fruit is available fresh and in a powdered pill form.
The pomegranate has become a very popular super-fruit in recent years due to its high anti-oxidant capacity, plus its rich, tart flavor. Pomegranate is available in many forms including whole fruit (autumn season), juice and juice mixtures, sorbet, and powder.