Paddle Healthy: The 5 Best Superfruits
We all know that we should eat plenty of fruit to stay healthy. But it's too easy to just stick to a few varieties that you love, while never venturing into the more exotic corners in the produce aisle, or checking out those weird looking things you've seen at the farmer's market but never plucked up the courage to try. Check out our list of the five best super fruits out there, and how you can benefit from making them part of your diet. —Phil White
Thankfully you won't have to ask someone at your local store or market for morinda citrifolia, as this tropical fruit is commonly called noni. Native to Tahiti and other tropical islands, noni's knobbly appearance can be off putting, but the greenish-white flesh has more superpowers than a meeting of The Avengers. Its anti-inflammatory properties reduce pain, inflammation and post-workout soreness, and noni also contains compounds that reduce 'bad' cholesterol and triglyceride levels, helping prevent heart disease. In addition, noni has antibacterial qualities and may prevent strokes by promoting optimal blood flow.
When ripe, the orange-red persimmon tastes delicious, but its enticing flavor is not the only reason to add this under-appreciated fruit to your shopping bag. As its color suggests, the fuyu persimmon is rich in beta carotene, the most prevalent dietary source of vitamin A, which protects your vision. It's also a rich source of immunity-boosting vitamin C. The fruit is also a go to for anti-cancer compounds betulinic acid and shibuol, plus powerful antioxidant tannins such as catechin. Native to the Philippines, Japan and China, the fuyu persimmon is now grown widely in California, and can be found at grocery stores and farmers' markets as well as at Asian food stores.
We were about to make a terrible pun about "How to Train Your Dragon Fruit," but we'll skip it and get right to the brightly colored nutritional powerhouse you should take a second look at next time you're fruit shopping. The seeds in dragon fruit—which look like chia—are one of the best natural sources for oleic acid, an essential fatty acid that raises 'good' cholesterol levels while kicking bad cholesterol to the curb. This member of the cactus family is also high in B-vitamins, which boost energy by helping your body efficiently convert carbs into glucose. In addition, dragon fruit has plenty of phosphorous, which supports bone health. Oh, and dragon fruit is high in fiber, too, so it will aid digestion and help you feel full longer after eating.
The sweet and crunchy insides of the star fruit (bet you can't guess what shape it is) packs a formidable nutritional punch. It's high in vitamin C and vitamin A, and also is a good source of fiber. The vitamin B-9 (folic acid) found in star fruit can help lower the risk of heart disease, while its very high potassium levels help keep you hydrated during exercise. Not that we'd advocate heavy drinking in a Paddle Healthy column, but star fruit also has a reputation for being a legit hangover cure!
One member of the nightshade family, deadly nightshade, can kill you. Fortunately, the variety sold in stores—goji berries—will not. But that's not to say that these bright red berries aren't potent. The lycopene content in goji berries rivals that of tomatoes, and helps prevent prostate cancer and other degenerative diseases. Goji berries are also high in vitamin E, which helps your body flush out free radicals that can cause cell damage. The fruit's high levels of carotenoids not only boost eye health, but also help prevent and repair sun damage. And the tangy tasting berries' polysaccharides contribute to a healthy immune system.
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