A quick glance down the aisles of your local grocery or health food store will reveal a wide variety of products that claim to contain “superfoods” or “superfruits,” and for those looking for a quick health fix, these foods might seem to be just what the doctor ordered. However, because the terms superfood and superfruit don’t have a strict scientific or regulatory definition, the claims that foods containing these types of ingredients are healthier than other food choices is pretty nebulous, and probably owes more to marketing efforts than actual nutritional data.
Generally, superfruits are said to contain more vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, fiber, and other nutrients than most other fruits, and by including them in our diet, our bodies may benefit from the added nutrition (especially if the rest of our diet is rather deficient in those nutrients).
Blueberries, which aren’t exactly considered to be exotic here in the US (they’re said to be the second most popular berry in the country), were one of the first fruits to be referred to as superfruits, due in part to their diverse phytonutrients, anthocyanins, and polyphenols.
Raspberries are another very common superfruit, and because of their extremely fragile nature, are almost always best right off the canes and not in a package from the grocery store. Raspberries can be grown in most temperate regions, in both red and black varieties, and are purported to be rich in anthocyanin pigments, flavanoids, vitamin C, and fiber.
Goji berries, or wolfberries, are a recently popular superfruit grown commercially mainly in China, but which can be grown elsewhere as well. Goji berries come from a woody perennial plant in the nightshade family (Solanaceae), and the small red to orange berries are said to be powerhouses of vitamin C, beta-carotene, and other nutrients, including 18 amino acids.
Blackberries, one of the most richly colored foods, are another common superfruit, and being fairly simple to grow, can be a great addition to a home garden. The upright thorn-covered canes, or brambles, of blackberries are biennial, so they only grow vegetation the first year, and then produce flowers and bear fruit the second year.
Aronia is a fruit that’s been getting a fair amount of attention recently as a superfruit, but most of us have probably never heard of it before. Perhaps that’s because calling it by its more common name, the chokeberry, doesn’t make it sound very palatable. Chokeberries are sometimes confused with a similar fruit, chokecherries (which are another wild and somewhat astringent food), and are often grown as an ornamental, not a food plant.