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Posted on Tue, Apr 24, 2012 : 6:29 a.m.

'Super fruits' - Do these live up to their hype?

By Melissa Gerharter MS, RD

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The health benefits of pomegranates have been hyped, but what does the evidence say?

Photo by Wikimedia Commons user Tomomarusan

We know fruit has many nutritional benefits, including supplying a good source of vitamins, minerals, fiber and thousands of bioactive compounds, plus they taste good! Do these fruits really have magical powers as some manufacturers claim?

Cranberries

These contain polyphenols called proanthocyanidins which can help prevent urinary tract infections during the first 10-12 hours of an infection. However, research is inconclusive whether drinking cranberry juice daily can prevent urinary tract infections. If you do get recurrent urinary tract infections, it may be worth drinking eight to 10 ounces of cranberry juice every day, but make sure the product has at least 25 percent pure cranberry juice.

Tart cherries

Tart cherries have more polyphenols then sweet cherries. Claims from tart cherries include reduction in inflammation in athletes, which can help aid in recovery. Serious athletes may consider drinking tart cherry juice to help aid in recovery and decrease signs of inflammation after exercise.

Pomegranate Juice

Good human studies haven’t shown the benefits for prostate cancer, heart disease or erectile dysfunction.

Berries

Studies have shown all berries improve in memory in lab rats, but it is too early to know whether berries do the same in humans.

While fruit provides many benefits, don’t rely on one fruit to cure or prevent disease. In an effort to get the biggest benefit from fruit, eat the fruit instead of juicing it. You will feel more satiated and will be able to reap the benefits of the fiber that comes along with eating the flesh of the fruit.

Step outside your box and try a new fruit every week; you may find your new favorite.

Melissa Gerharter MS, RD, CSSD is co-owner of Joust Strength and Fitness of Ann Arbor. She is also a part time lecturer at Eastern Michigan University. She can be reached at melissa@joustfitness.com.

Comments

DBH

Tue, Apr 24, 2012 : 4:57 p.m.

Although I am not aware of any definitive evidence in humans that this is true, I take it as a matter of faith that mixtures of foods are synergistic. For example, while kiwifruit, cherries and blueberries all are thought to be healthful individually, I assume that a mixture of the three is more healthful than eating any individual fruit. I apply the same sort of thinking to nuts and seeds, grains, greens and other vegetables.