Superfruits are categorized as such as they have a high anti-oxidant value or contain other nutrients and minerals in a higher concentration. A new study, published in the journal Food technology, has broken down the benefit of nine popular seeds and superfruits.
Chia Seeds: Chia seeds are often used in yogurt, homemade trail mixes, baked goods, commercial nutrition bars, beverages and snacks. They are high in omega-3 fatty acids, calcium, phytonutrients, vitamins, minerals and antioxidants.
“Chia has nutritional value beyond omega-3, including calcium, phytonutrients, vitamins and minerals, and antioxidants,” said Nicole Rees, business development manager—ingredient technologies at Glanbia Nutritionals, Fitchburg, Wis. (www.glanbianutritionals.com). “Ounce per ounce, chia contains more calcium than milk.”
While many ingredient manufacturers offer flax or chia in whole seed form, milling the seeds helps the body acquire greater nutritional benefits by increasing the bioavailability of nutrients, said Rees. “One of the key findings from a 2012 human trial [Nieman et al., 2012] showed omega-3 alpha-linolenic acid (ALA) levels increased 58.4% and eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) levels 38.6% within the milled chia seed group compared to no increase in the whole seed and control groups.”
Flaxseeds: Flaxseeds are a good source of protein, fiber, antioxidants, and phytoestrogens in the form of lignans and omega-3 fatty acids. A study has also linked eating ground whole flaxseed to lowering blood cholesterol and supporting cardiovascular health.
Sunflower Seeds: Often considered a traditional ballpark snack, sunflower seeds provide monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats, protein, fiber, vitamin E, and phytochemicals like choline, lignan, phenolic acids and betaine (Phillips, 2005). One ounce of sunflower seeds provides 76% of the Recommended Dietary Allowance for vitamin E. In addition, sunflower seeds contain phytochemicals like choline, lignan, phenolic acids, and betaine.
Pumpkin Seeds: Pumpkin seeds are packed with protein, fiber, manganese, magnesium, and phosphorus. They offer a source of protein, fiber, manganese, magnesium, and phosphorus. Kathie’s Kitchen, North Haven, Conn. (www.superseedz.com), offers SuperSeedz ® Gourmet Pumpkin Seeds. They contain 8 g of protein per oz, 2 mg of iron, and 2 mg of zinc, and they are cholesterol free and allergen friendly.
Blueberries: Daily blueberry consumption may reduce blood pressure and arterial stiffness (Johnson, 2015) and are packed with fiber, vitamins, minerals, fructose, and antioxidants. Antioxidants in blueberries are linked to the prevention/delaying of diseases such as cancer, heart disease, and the aging process. These substances include, but are not limited to, fructose, fiber, vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants. Antioxidants thus far seem to have the most conclusive role in the prevention/delaying of such diseases as cancer, heart disease, and the aging process.
Acai Berries: Acai berries are a rich source of anthocyanin and have a fatty acid ratio similar to olive oil. They have been shown to have anti-inflammatory properties.
Tart Cherries: Tart cherries are high in anthocyanin and have high antioxidant activity. Reported benefits include enhanced sleep, anti-inflammation in arthritis and gout, and sports recovery.
Avocados: More than just the main ingredient in guacamole, avocados have beneficial effects on cardio-metabolic risk factors that extend beyond their heart-healthy fatty acid profile (Wang, 2015). In a study of 45 overweight or obese subjects who ate a moderate-fat diet including an avocado daily had lower bad cholesterol than those on a similar diet without the avocado or those on a lower-fat diet (American Heart Association, 2015).
Cranberries: Cranberries have long been associated with benefiting urinary tract health but have also shown to benefit heart health, cancer prevention, oral health, and glycemic response (Cranberry Institute, 2014). Polyphenols such as proanthocyanidins (PACs) in cranberries play a potential role in these observed benefits. Investigations have evaluated the role of PACs in the adhesion of bacteria to cells such as those that cause infections in the urinary tract and the gastrointestinal system (including the mouth and stomach). PACs have been reported to possess antimicrobial, anti-adhesion, antioxidant, and anti-inflammatory properties.