Wednesday, March 17, 2010

There's no such thing as a "Superfruit"

I received an email last week from a reader asking about acai berries. I've had others asking about goji berries, melumbers and mangosteens.

The questions invariably have to do with the incredible health benefits these fruits are reputed to confer.

Funny thing is (ok, not so funny), there aren't medical studies supporting their claims or beliefs.

So what does the evidence suggest?

Studies on folks who consume larger amounts of fruits and vegetables as a whole show a myriad of health benefits that are almost certainly not a consequence of those fruits' antioxidant levels given the disappointing results we've seen on studies of antioxidants. And while indeed there are studies on fruits and vegetables as a whole, with free-living humans and all of their wonderful dietary and lifestyle differences, there's unlikely to ever be robust, well-controlled studies that are able to look at the consumptions of individual types of fruits or berries.

Of course it's possible one or more of these "Super" fruits are in fact "super" healthy. More likely though if you eat them you're just buying hope and more often than not in the case of so-called superfruits, super-expensive hope, often in the form of a large multilevel marketing campaign.

I'd stay away from things advertised (and priced) as "super" and remember Michael Pollan's 7 word healthy eating manifesto, "Eat Food. Not too much. Mostly plants". Follow those simple instructions and you'll do super.