Agriculture
Making the most of a meal
Flush-Free Fertilizer
Silk’s superpowers
Amphibians
Salamanders
Tree Frogs
Salamanders and Newts
Animals
Staying Away from Sick Lobsters
Polar Bears in Trouble
Gliders in the Family
Behavior
Contemplating thought
Bringing fish back up to size
Chimpanzee Hunting Tools
Birds
Kingfishers
Cassowaries
Pheasants
Chemistry and Materials
Music of the Future
Fog Buster
Gooey Secrets of Mussel Power
Computers
The Shape of the Internet
Hitting the redo button on evolution
Music of the Future
Dinosaurs and Fossils
Ancient Critter Caught Shedding Its Skin
South America's sticky tar pits
The man who rocked biology to its core
E Learning Jamaica
2014 GSAT Results for Jamaican Kids
E Learning in Jamaica WIN PRIZES and try our Fun Animated Games
Results of GSAT are in schools this week
Earth
Farms sprout in cities
Killer Space Rock Snuffed Out Ancient Life
Less Mixing Can Affect Lake's Ecosystem
Environment
Inspired by Nature
Watching for Wildfires in Yellowstone
Acid Snails
Finding the Past
Ancient Art on the Rocks
Little People Cause Big Surprise
Prehistoric Trips to the Dentist
Fish
Puffer Fish
Mahi-Mahi
Codfish
Food and Nutrition
The mercury in that tuna
Healing Honey
Recipe for Health
GSAT English Rules
Whoever vs. Whomever
Order of Adjectives
Pronouns
GSAT Exam Preparation Jamaica
Results of GSAT are in schools this week
Scotiabank Jamaica Foundation Grade Six Achievement Test (GSAT) Scholarships
Tarrant High overcoming the odds
GSAT Exams Jamaica Scholarships
Results of GSAT are in schools this week
GSAT stars reap scholarship glory
2014 GSAT Results for Jamaican Kids
GSAT Mathematics
E Learning in Jamaica WIN PRIZES and try our Fun Animated Games
10 Common Mistakes When Preparing for the GSAT Math Test
Secrets of an Ancient Computer
Human Body
Opening a Channel for Tasting Salt
Spit Power
Sleeping Soundly for a Longer Life
Invertebrates
Jellyfish
Butterflies
Roundworms
Mammals
Cheetah
Whales
Opposum
Parents
Choosing a Preschool: What to Consider
Raise a Lifelong Reader by Reading Aloud
How children learn
Physics
The Particle Zoo
Invisibility Ring
Extra Strings for New Sounds
Plants
The algae invasion
Assembling the Tree of Life
Surprise Visitor
Reptiles
Crocodilians
Reptiles
Gila Monsters
Space and Astronomy
Ready, Set, Supernova
Burst Busters
A Galaxy Far, Far, Far Away
Technology and Engineering
Shape Shifting
A Clean Getaway
Roll-Up Computer Monitors to Go
The Parts of Speech
Countable and Uncountable Nouns
What is a Preposition?
Adjectives and Adverbs
Transportation
Are Propellers Fin-ished?
How to Fly Like a Bat
Reach for the Sky
Weather
Catching Some Rays
Arctic Melt
Science loses out when ice caps melt
Add your Article

How Super Are Superfruits?

You've probably been told a million times to eat your fruits and vegetables. If you live in the United States, that recommendation probably makes you think of apples, bananas, carrots, and broccoli. It can be boring to eat the same produce day after day. Fortunately, grocery store aisles have grown a lot more exciting lately. Shoppers can now buy fruits and fruit juices filled with the flavors of rainforests, distant mountainsides, and tropical islands. With names like açaí (pronounced ah-SIGH-ee), mangosteen, pomegranate, noni, and goji berries, exotic fruits are showing up in growing numbers. Many of these fruits are also used as ingredients in a variety of food products, from granola to ice creams to smoothies. In the United States, it is illegal for companies that sell products made from these fruits to make health claims about them. But that doesn't stop magazine articles and health food proponents from doing so. And many now claim that the fruits in some of these products will fight cancer, cure heart disease, strengthen the immune system, and help people live longer, among other benefits. Based on such claims, these natural products have been dubbed "superfruits." In 2007, Americans spent tens of millions of dollars on dietary supplements and foods containing superfruits, according to SPINS, a natural-products market-research firm. From 2006 to 2007, sales of goji berries, for instance, skyrocketed 75 percent. Sales of pomegranate products rose by more than 60 percent. And products containing açaí rose 50 percent. But are mangosteens and goji berries really better for you than apples and oranges? Companies that add superfruits to their products are funding studies that aim to establish how healthful they are. But many independent nutritionists are skeptical that these foods have extra nutritional value. The only thing that's really special about superfruits, they argue, may be their price. Owing to the long distances they must travel to reach U.S. kitchens, these exotic fruits usually cost considerably more than local produce. Right now, "there's no science that these [exotic superfruits] are associated with better health," says David Katz, director of the Yale-Griffin Prevention Research Center in New Haven, Conn. "It doesn't mean [the companies] are wrong. The fact is, there's no proof that they're right." Definition of super Superfruits are not the first foods to earn a "super" label. The term has also been used to describe a variety of more ordinary foods, including blueberries, dark chocolate, spinach, and certain types of tea. Superfood is not a scientific term. But foods that have gained the "super" prefix tend to contain a high concentration of substances called antioxidants. These chemical compounds may protect people from diseases and aging by limiting certain chemical reactions that happen naturally. But if those chemical reactions become excessive, they can cause damage to the body. Scientists now think that eating a wide variety of plant-derived foods can make us healthier and less likely to develop certain diseases by boosting the body's natural antioxidant defenses. "There are lots and lots of studies that show that antioxidants do contribute to health," says Jeffrey Blumberg, director of the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Antioxidants Research Laboratory at Tufts University in Boston. To lure health-conscious consumers, advertisers often claim that superfruit-filled foods contain extra high levels of antioxidants. One way to measure antioxidant content is to grind up a food and put it in a test tube with free radicals. The more free radicals disabled, the scientists assume, the more plentiful and powerful the antioxidants. Using such tests, a company called POM Wonderful found that its 100 percent pomegranate juice contained more antioxidants, per ounce, than did any of a dozen beverages made from other fruits, including blueberry, grape, and açaí. The next nearest competitor, red wine, had 17 percent less antioxidant activity than pomegranate juice did. The Web site for Sambazon, a company that makes products containing açaí, says that this fruit has 30 times as many antioxidants as an equivalent quantity of red wine and 50 percent more antioxidants than an equal amount of pomegranate. Claims such as these are confusing and conflicting because tests that measure antioxidant levels are unreliable, Blumberg says. Results depend on which parts of the fruit scientists grind up, for one thing. In fact, related tests sometimes produce opposite results. And when different labs do the same test they will sometimes come up with different numbers. Another problem is that what happens in a test tube is so simple that it might not predict what will happen in more complex environments, such as the human body. Indeed, certain phytochemicals might never even get into our bloodstream after we eat them, notes Will McClatchey, a botanist at the University of Hawaii, Manoa. "Some [antioxidants] might be beneficial for us," McClatchey says. "Some might not. Just because something tests out in a lab to be an antioxidant doesn't mean it will continue to be an antioxidant when it passes through the digestive tract." Health claims Partly in response to criticisms like these, superfruit scientists are now doing studies in both animals and in people. One goal is to prove that eating these fruits contributes to better health. Some industry studies have yielded encouraging results. POM Wonderful, which has spent $23 million on pomegranate research over the past decade, has evidence that a daily cup of the company's pomegranate juice raises antioxidant levels in the bloodstream. Its studies also suggest that drinking the juice protects against heart disease and certain types of cancer. Similarly, studies funded by a company called Tahitian Noni International have found that drinking noni juice reduces concentrations of certain free radicals in the blood. Early evidence also suggests that the juice might help athletes run longer distances without getting as tired as they normally do, says Brett West, who directs research for the company. Studies like these add to a long history of medicinal uses for natural products in traditional cultures. The açaí fruit, for one, which grows only on palm trees in the Brazilian Amazon, has been used to treat fevers. Goji berries, which grow in China and Tibet, have been used to reduce inflammation and improve eyesight. And pomegranates, which are native to Iran and India (but now also grow in California), are sometimes eaten to relieve digestive distress. Still, there are no large, long-term studies that clearly link any exotic fruits with better health. And nutritionists worry that people are too easily drawn in by whatever's new and different. All the studies that do show health benefits of certain fruits were sponsored by companies that sell them, and most of the studies lasted only a few days or months. "It is much easier to ascribe a magical or health property to goji or açaí or chasteberry than to an apple or orange because we already know about apples and oranges," Blumberg says. But apples, oranges, and other ordinary fruits also contain plenty of vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants. It can't hurt to add superfruits to your diet, adds David Grotto, a Chicago-based dietician and author. He regularly makes açaí smoothies and rice pudding with goji berries, among other exotic menu items, for his three daughters, ages 13, 10, and 9. (Grotto's kids like these foods, but it may take a few tries to develop a taste for exotic fruits. Pomegranates are tart. Goji berries resemble stale raisins. And açaí can taste like cheese). If you can't stomach them, can't find them, or don't want to spend the extra money on them, don't worry. Eating a wide variety of colorful fruits and vegetables is far more important than eating any one thing. "Variety is the spice of life," Grotto says. And, he adds, sampling exotic foods can be an adventure. So, make sure to enjoy the journey! What Are Antioxidants? Antioxidants are chemical compounds that may help fight the damage caused by diseases and aging. These powerful compounds work by blocking oxidation—natural chemical reactions that harm cells. At the root of oxidation reactions are molecules called oxidants—often known as free radicals. These molecules are produced by nearly everything we do that involves oxygen, including digestion and breathing. Free radicals aren't all bad. In fact, they perform important functions in the body, such as killing off old cells or germs. They become a problem only when we produce too many of them. Breathing in pollution or cigarette smoke often increases the production of free radicals. So does aging. To prevent oxidation reactions from harming healthy cells, the body makes antioxidants. However, it tends to make fewer antioxidants as we get older. That's one reason scientists suspect that oxidation is related to chronic disease. With fewer antioxidants to defend us, oxidation reactions can damage or kill more and more cells. People aren't the only ones who make antioxidants. Plants make hundreds of thousands of chemicals, also known as phytochemicals. Thousands of these phytochemicals work as antioxidants in the human body. Scientists now think that eating a wide variety of these compounds can boost our own antioxidant defenses, making us healthier and less likely to develop diseases. That's one reason why experts recommend that people eat many different kinds of fruits and vegetables.

How Super Are Superfruits?
How Super Are Superfruits?








Designed and Powered by HBJamaica.com™