If you were to look up synonyms for the word “super”, you might find suggestions like splendid, wonderful, glorious, outstanding, marvelous, smashing, brilliant, fabulous…you get the idea.
So what makes a food super? Well, there is no formal definition of a superfood, but fruits are extra wonderful, marvelous, brilliant, etc. because of their impressive nutritional resume. Superfruits each contain unique polyphenols. Polyphenols are the powerful antioxidant compounds which help fight free radicals that can contribute to cellular damage in our bodies (sounds like a superhero role to me). You could argue that most fruits have superfruit-like qualities, but we took a closer look at 4 in particular that have bragging rights when it comes to packing a nutritional punch.
Did you know that pomegranates have been cultivated since 6000 BC? Talk about being the original superfruit! This fruit is packed with two powerful polyphenols called anythocyanins and punicalagins. The seeds inside of the pomegranate fruit are called arils, and a half cup of these juicy gems serves as an excellent source of fiber—a nutrient most Americans do not get enough of.
We’ll make an exception to our superfruit run down and include beets, which are technically a vegetable. Their rich purple-red hue comes from the polyphenol called betalain. Aside from being rich in antioxidants, beets are packed with folate and potassium. This nutrient-dense root is one of the most versatile veggies out there! Beets can be roasted for a sweet salad topper, pureed into hummus or soup, or added raw to your morning juice.
This beautiful berry (pronounced AH-sigh-EE) is rich in anthocyanins (recap: the antioxidant-powerhouse also found in pomegranates). Acai berries also bring fiber and healthy fats to the table! These berries do not stay fresh for too long after being picked, so you usually find the freeze dried variety in grocery stores. Try adding to smoothies or yogurt for an antioxidant boost.
Blueberries may seem like a “less-exotic” superfruit, but these berries sure know how to pack an antioxidant punch. Couple this with their impressive fiber and potassium content and you have yourself one heart-healthy berry (P.S. Frozen blueberries are just as nutritious as fresh blueberries and can be found year-round!)
Nikki DeAngelis is a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist for Glanbia Performance Nutrition who serves as the nutrition expert for thinkThin®.