5.APR.2017 8 MIN READ | 8 MIN READ

You’ve heard of super foods but what about super fruits? Not every fruit qualifies. Here’s a rundown of the 7 fruits to help boost your health and immune system. Time to load up on antioxidants, vitamins and fibre!

These fruits have earned their title as super fruits because they are packed with antioxidants, fibre, vitamins, and minerals that are beneficial for health. Best of all, most of these are easily available at the supermarket.

Acai berry

Pronounced ah-sa-ee, it is a tart purple berry that comes from a particular Amazon palm species.

Benefits:

  • Promotes heart health: Acai berries are extremely high in anthocyanins – a type of antioxidant that supports balanced cholesterol levels.
  • Resists harmful organisms: The same antioxidant teams up with plant compounds to combat harmful free radicals that are responsible for damaging diseases and conditions including heart disease.
  • May aid weight loss: One interesting study found that the pulp from the acai berry has the ability to reduce fat deposits in the human body, making the fruit an excellent choice for weight loss.

Make it part of your diet:

  1. Start your mornings right by topping your waffles or pancakes with the frozen fruit.
  2. If you’re a fan of cereal and oatmeal, you may choose to add the frozen pulp, juice or powder for that extra nutrient.
  3. You may also incorporate the juice as part of your smoothie recipe.

Apple

There has to be some truth to the old saying, ‘An apple a day keeps the doctor away’.

Benefits:

  • Promotes heart health: Apples contain a type of soluble fibre, known as pectin, that has been linked to lower levels of bad cholesterol.
  • Helps reduce risk of type 2 diabetes: It has been reported that women who consume at least one apple a day are 28% less likely to develop type 2 diabetes as apples are loaded with soluble fibre – the key to blunting blood sugar swings.
  • Prevent breathing problems: On the same note, consuming 5 or more apples a week has been linked with better lung function most likely because of an antioxidant called quercetin found in the skin of the apples.

Make it part of your diet:

  1. If you’re not the kind to enjoy a crunchy apple, make apple water! Simply toss a couple of chopped apples with a few sticks of cinnamon into your favourite pitcher, before pouring yourself a glass.
  2. Alternatively, substitute your unhealthy midday snacks with an apple. The fibrous fruit is proven to keep you full for a longer time hence helping to maintain your weight.

Avocado

Also known as the ‘alligator pear’, this fruit contains a whole host of benefits for your heart.

Benefits:

  • Healthy heart: Avocados are loaded with heart-healthy monounsaturated fatty acids which, when eaten in place of saturated fat, may help lower your blood cholesterol.
  • Reduce blood pressure: Avocados actually contain 4% more potassium than bananas, which is well-known for its high potassium content. Several studies have shown that a high potassium intake may help to reduce blood pressure, a major risk factor for cardiovascular disease and kidney failure.
  • Great for vision: Avocados contain lutein and zeaxanthin – 2 phytochemicals that provide antioxidant protection to minimise cell damage, including from ultraviolet light.
  • Bone health: Half an avocado provides approximately ¼ the daily recommended intake for vitamin K – a nutrient that is often overlooked but essential for bone health.

Make it part of your diet:

  1. Make an avocado spread and combine it with your toast for a rich and velvety (yet cholesterol-free) topping.
  2. If you’re in need of a midday snack, why not opt for an avocado milkshake? Be warned that you’re in for a delicious and healthy treat.
  3. Toss some avocado into your salad.

Pomegranate

Pomegranates are a gem of a fruit – cut one open and you’re greeted with many little sparkling seeds that resemble rubies. You’ll be glad to know that the fruit not only looks good, it is also very nutritious.

Benefits:

  • Impressive anti-inflammatory effects: Pomegranate has potent anti-inflammatory properties. Test tube studies have shown it can reduce inflammatory activity in the digestive tract.
  • Help to maintain healthy blood flow: Pomegranate contains some iron, a mineral needed to make red blood cells in our body. A deficiency in iron can cause anaemia, resulting in symptoms such as exhaustion, dizziness and weakness.
  • Guards memory and brain function: Studies have reported memory and other cognitive benefits of polyphenols, which are found abundantly in pomegranate seeds and their juice. A small study suggested that pomegranate juice may play a potential role in memory function, through showing increases in task-related brain activity among older adults.

Make it part of your diet:

  1. The next time you’re looking for a healthier dip for your meat dish, consider whipping up your own cranberry pomegranate sauce! It’d be a sweet addition to your dish.
  2. Have some pomegranate juice! You can choose to make your own by tossing the seeds in a blender, or you can opt to buy a bottle off the shelves from the supermarket. Take note to check that no sugar or additives have been thrown in.

Kiwi

Kiwi's superfruit status lies in its abundance of vitamin C. In fact, it has one of the highest densities of vitamin C of all fruits.

Benefits:

  • Aids digestion: Kiwi has plenty of fibre, which is good for digestion. It is also low in fermentable oligosaccharides, disaccharides, monosaccharides and polyols – otherwise known as FODMAP – suitable for people with irritable bowel syndrome.
  • Boosts immune system: Vitamin C is an essential nutrient when it comes to boosting your immune system to ward off disease. Just one cup of kiwi is able to provide you about 273% of your recommended daily intake of vitamin C, strengthening the immune system.
  • Healthy skin: The vitamins present in kiwi (C and E) are said to be great for the skin as they act as antioxidants to prevent skin degradation. Vitamin C is essential for collagen synthesis, ie. the process of collagen production.

Make it part of your diet:

  1. Combine sliced kiwi with bananas, grapes, yoghurt and citrus juice. Top with granola for a crunchy treat – sounds like the perfect way to start any day.
  2. Alternatively, toss ice, a kiwi, frozen limeade, a little fresh mint and a teaspoon of sugar in a blender and… enjoy!

Papaya

Papaya is a favourite among many in this region for its smooth texture and flavour that has just the right amount of sweetness.

Benefits:

  • Protection against retinal degeneration: The antioxidants lutein and zeaxanthin found in papaya filters out harmful blue light rays, playing a protective role in eye health and possibly warding off damage from retinal degeneration.
  • Aids digestion: Papaya is high in fibre and water content, both of which help to prevent constipation and promote a healthy digestive tract.
  • Anti-cancer properties: Several studies have suggested that papaya has cancer-fighting properties, which appear to stem from its ability to reduce free radicals that contribute to cancer development.

Make it part of your diet:

  1. Make papaya sorbet by blending the fruit with water and lemon juice before freezing. Serve with fresh papaya to cool off in the heat.
  2. Add papaya chunks to chicken, tuna or shrimp salad to add a tinge of sweetness that balances out the savoury meat.

Blueberries

These tasty blue gems are tiny but they sure pack a punch. Although small, they are one of the most powerful sources of antioxidants among fruits.

Benefits:

  • Healthy heart: Studies suggest that the high content of anthocyanins in berries may help counter the build-up of plaque in arteries and improve cardiovascular health. Also, the antioxidants in blueberries have been linked to reduced levels of oxidised LDL (often referred to as the ‘bad’ cholesterol), a major risk factor for heart disease.
  • May help protect the brain: Blueberries may aid in improving memory and delaying cognitive problems frequently associated with ageing. Studies on blueberry intake suggest that this is likely due to blueberries’ vast array of antioxidant nutrients that help to protect the nerve cells from oxygen damage.
  • Reduce free radical damage: DNA damage is part of the reason we age, and it also plays an important role in the development of diseases like cancer. Because blueberries are high in antioxidants, they can help neutralise some of the free radicals that cause damage to our DNA.

Make it part of your diet:

  1. Blend a handful of blueberries into your smoothie or shake.
  2. Add fresh or dried blueberries to your breakfast cereal, for both a nutritious and colourful punch!
  3. Mix blueberries with low-fat yoghurt for a delicious dessert.

References
www.livestrong.com/blog/10-superfruits-eat-better-health/
www.livescience.com/35968-superfruit-pomegranate-acai-gogi-health-benefits.html
www.webmd.com/alzheimers/news/20060804/alzheimers-apple
www.livestrong.com/article/322290-top-10-healthiest-fruits-vegetables/
www.healthline.com/health/7-best-things-about-kiwi
www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/270406.php
www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3139238/

Reviewed by Natalie Goh, chief dietitian at Mount Elizabeth Hospitals

5.APR.2017