Superfruits – what?!

As I come across more trendy, marketing terms I feel the need to try to reveal the truth behind the hype……….

‘SUPER FRUITS’ refer to plants that are BELIEVED to provide great HEALTH benefits because of their nutrient and antioxidant levels. The some fruits ‘classed’ as super are acai, goji, mangosteen, noni, and seaberry. The more common ones are blueberries, cranberries and pomegranate.

The main thing to keep in mind is that the term ‘super fruits’ has NO REGULATORY APPROVAL 18787906_sand is not a SCIENTIFICALLY recognised term therefore can be used on ANY product. The term or the products, have NO scientific VALIDATION or sufficient EVIDENCE base to be recommended by health professionals therefore we tend to take all CLAIMS with a good pinch of salt. Its also worth bearing in mind that most of the SMALL studies on super fruits have been carried out on ANIMALS and have been funded by INDUSTRY.

Some fruits are recognized as an EXCEPTIONAL antioxidant source. There are several products that are not called super fruits, that contain exceptional levels of antioxidants and nutrients but, are too BORING to market – take BROCCOLI for example –  a cup of broccoli has DOUBLE the vitamin C of an orange, it also contains vitamin A, folic acid, calcium and phytochemicals in the form of indoles and isothiocyanates which have been linked to decreasing CANCER rates.

Many of the exotic ‘super fruits’ are only available in JUICE form which poses another THREAT – the natural SUGAR. The juicing process REMOVES most of the FIBRE from the fruit which increases its glycaemic index (G.I.). This means that even if the juice is 100% fruit juice – NO ADDED SUGAR – it will mean that the natural sugar in the fruit will be ABSORBED significantly FASTER therefore increasing your blood glucose levels QUICKLY and providing a lot of CALORIES in a few gulps. We wouldn’t eat 5 FRUITS in one go so why would you DRINK 5 fruits worth of JUICE in less than 5 minutes? Many of the natural super fruit juices are FLAVOURS that the Western palates are not ACCUSTOMISED to, therefore need to be masked using SUGAR and other fruits.

Some super fruits are available in SUPPLEMENT form – please bare in mind that these are NOT REGULATED so could contain absolutely anything and not all the CONTENTS could be listed. If people are taking any MEDICATION or other SUPPLEMENTS, they need to be EXTERMEMLY CAREFUL as we have no evidence base to see if there could be INTERACTIONS between different supplements and medications. I often see people take a COMBINATION of different supplements – for skin, hair, nails, ‘well being’ on top of prescribed medications and despair as we don’t know what these are doing to us in the long term. We have seen DEATHS caused by some Chinese / WEIGHT LOSS herbal supplements and I beg people NOT TO TAKE unregulated supplements (that are not on prescription).

Most of these products are very EXPENSIVE and have poor AVAILABILITY. We often find that people who can afford to buy these products ARE following a healthy, balanced diet and DO NOT NEED any additions. Its also worth knowing that if a ‘scientist’ or ‘specialist’ ENDORSES a product they are usually being PAID to do so – MARKETING is extremely important as HEALTH is a very VALUABLE industry. Super fruits is simply a MARKETING TERM that has been made trendy. Furthermore, even if a claim is made that a particular fruit has a high ANTIOXIDANT level the human body may not be able to ABSORBE it well. Its worth checking exactly HOW MUCH of the product one would have to consume to see the ‘benefit’ claimed – sometimes the amounts are very large. Consumer group Choice found that you would need to drink about 13-30ml serves of Goji juice in order to obtain the same antioxidant benefit of eating one medium sized Red Delicious apple! At around $50 a bottle that is one EXPENSIVE boost!

I think we are in a society that looks for a ‘MAGIC WAND’ type product that simply does and will not EXIST –  if it ever does we would be providing it on prescription! It seems that good old HEALTHY EATING is too boring although its certainly what we NEED to be doing.

The bottom line, In my opinion – ALL FRUITS ARE SUPER FRUITS in their own way. None are going to guide you to the PROMISED LAND therefore aim to meet the 5-a-day fruit and veg AIM by eating a VARIETY of WHOLE fruits to OPTIMISE health. NOTHING can substitute a healthy, balanced diet.