Also known as the wolfberry, this bright red-orange fruit has been a staple in rural China for at least 2,000 years. Nutritionally, goji is rich in fiber, riboflavin, copper, iron, potassium and zinc. Related to the tomato, potato and eggplant, it is the only berry exceptionally high in beta-carotene, zeaxanthin and lycopene. Available dried in cereals and granola or as an ingredient in juice drinks and tea. See also: Fab Foods: Goji Berries.
Unrelated to the mang, mangosteen has a thick purple skin covering an edible white pulp. It grows on a tropical evergreen tree in Asia, Africa and the Pacific tropics. Although the fruit itself has a rather low nutrient density and antioxidant activity, manufacturers extract potent phytonutrients from its skin, thus its superfruit status. Valued for sweetness, it's added to juices and desserts.
Native to Southeast Asia but found throughout the tropics, noni is another white fruit, a sign it's not rich in phytonutrients. However, it boasts a fiar amount of vitamin C as well as numerous minerals, notably potassium. In fact, noni is so rich in potassium, experts caution people with impaired kidney function to avoid noni juice. When nearly ripe, the fruit has a foul odor and pungent taste, earning it the name "cheese fruit" in Polynesian culture. Luckily, manufacturers have found a way to remove the substance responsible for this unpleasant taste and smell. Some noni is sold as juice online and by multi-level marketing companies, accompanied by unsubstantiated health claims.
Another Chinese fruit, sometimes called seaberry, seabuckhorn is a tart yellow-orange berry that grows on a thorny vine. A highly acidic fruit loaded with vitamins A, C and E, as well as a notable amount of unsaturated fat, this fruit is available usually in juice or tea form. For many Americans, it's an acquired taste.
Other Fruits of the Future
Newbie superfruits are just waiting in the wings to hit the American market. You may soon see Cupuacau, a Brazilian fruit with a chocolaty taste and two South American fruits rich in vitamin C - Acerola, a sour, bright-red cherry-like fruit and Camu Camu, a reddish-purple berry. Plus, be on the lookout for the irresistibly named Yumberry, a Chinese red berry with an appealing sweet taste.
Exotic super fruits have one downside: They must be imported long distances, so they are not environmentally friendly of foods, much like a banana. Touted with mostly unsubstantiated health claims, it's best to enjoy these fruits for their novelty, unusual taste and to add variety to your diet. Their array of antioxidants and phytonutrients are a bonus.
Many of these fruits are not likely to show up in supermarket produce displays just yet, but they're already showing up in the ingredient lists of juices, smoothies, and even fortified waters as well as in cereals, granola bars, ice creams and desserts. .
Many of these fruits boast exceptionally high antioxidant activity and phytonutrient content- higher than most Western fruits, earning them the title of Superfruits by the industry. But, are they truly superior to other fruits? Clinical trials have yet to show that any of the top exotic superfruits are effective against human disease. However, familiar Western fruits with high antioxidant/phytonutrient contents - like grapes, cranberries, blueberries - do have some data supporting a relationship between their intake and a lower risk of chronic diseases.
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