Our abuelas taught us that some té de yerba buena (good herbal tea) will soothe an upset stomach, and a little zábila (aloe vera) will ease the sting of a sunburn. And now we know that there are fruits that carry equally amazing health benefits. Behold the amazing powers of these six super fruits.
1. CHERRIES • SLEEP AID
Warm milk used to be the bedtime beverage of choice, but an unlikely new beverage has been in the news for its insomnia-battling properties. According to the National Sleep Foundation, studies have shown that cherries contain high levels of melatonin, “a natural antioxidant… with established ability to help moderate the body’s sleep-wake cycle.” In other words, melatonin doesn’t just regulate sleep, it helps promote wakefulness during the day, too. Studies reported that when participants drank cherry juice in the morning and at night for two weeks, they “experienced significant reductions in reported insomnia severity.” Keeping in mind that cherries also contain various antioxidants (not just melatonin) and are sweet and delicious to boot, there’s no reason that adults with sleep issues shouldn’t give them a shot.
2. BANANAS • WEIGHT LOSS TOOL
There’s no miracle food when it comes to dieting. But when it comes to weight loss,“Bananas are one of the most nutritious and natural foods that help promote weight loss,” reports LiveStrong. There are several reasons why bananas can be so helpful if you’re looking to maintain a healthy weight. One is their high content of fiber. As LiveStrong explains it, “Bananas are high in dietary fiber, which makes you feel fuller longer so you won’t overeat at your next meal or reach for an unhealthy snack before it.” They’re also extremely low in fat. “The USDA [United States Department of Agriculture] database reports that a large, ripe banana has less than half a gram of fat,” according to LiveStrong, which puts the numbers into perspective: “Considering there are 9 calories per gram of fat, you can eat several bananas a day and not take in any bad fat that could lead to weight gain.” The website also explains another important component: their low glycemic index. “The glycemic index is a ranking of how quickly carbohydrates from food are released into the body. Foods that have low glycemic index scores release carbs slowly into the body.” In other words, a food that is high on the glycemic index, like candy, is quickly turned into sugar and is a shock to the system. Bananas provide long-lasting energy throughout the day, as opposed to a junk food-induced “sugar rush”. And bananas can be a versatile part of a healthy diet—eat them alone, with cereal, blending them into a smoothie, or mashing them into a spread for toast or crackers.
3. BLUEBERRIES & STRAWBERRIES • BRAIN BOOSTERS
They taste great, they’re always in season in your market’s freezer aisle, and now a new study shows that blueberries and strawberries can “stave off the cognitive decline and memory loss that comes with aging,” reports CBS News. Dr. Elizabeth Devore, a researcher, professor, and lead author of the study (which was conducted at the Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston), said in a press release this year that, “What makes our study unique is the amount of data we analyzed over such a long period of time. No other berry study has been conducted on such a large scale.” And women don’t need to have berries for breakfast, lunch, and dinner to attain the positive results shown in the study. “Among women who consumed two or more servings of strawberries and blueberries a week we saw a modest reduction in memory decline,” says Dr. Devore.
4. ACAI BERRIES • THE BEAUTY BERRY
In 2008, Dr. Oz’s enthusiasm on The Oprah Winfrey Show for Brazil’s “beauty berry” launched what seemed like a gazillion “Lose Weight Fast!” pop-up ads. Dr. Oz’s website raves about the power of this little purple berry. “Among acai’s many antioxidants is one particular powerhouse called anthocyanin, which is suspected to be the driving force behind acai’s free-radical and age-fighting powers.” In addition, the acai berry “packs more grams of protein than an egg, and when combined with its host of omega 3, 6 and 9 fatty acids, acai has been shown to improve the look and texture of your hair, skin and nails.” Dr. Oz’s website recommends getting your intake of acai via juice: “You can find the freshest juices in the refrigerated sections of your grocery store. The first ingredient on the bottle should be acai.” Just don’t mistake acai for some kind of miracle diet drug. When it comes to weight loss, Oz told ABC News that he’d be “surprised if by itself acai could help.”
5. GRAPES • HEART HELPERS
Wine-lovers just love to tout the health benefits of a glass per day. After all, the French have perplexed the world for years with their rich cuisine and low rates of heart disease. While there isn’t a solid link between the country’s love of red wine and their avoidance of heart disease, red wine has been found to contain a component called resveratrol, known to have “a number of different but equally beneficial actions in human cells,” reports Science News. “Diets rich in the chemical seem to protect the heart, slow weight gain, boost the rate at which the body burns fat (at least in studies with mice) and even extend lifespan (again, in mice).” For kids and non-drinkers, simply look to the source: red grapes. Sweet and juicy, they make a great snack or dessert (try popping them in the fridge or the freezer before eating for a cool summer treat). While grape juice is also thought to have similar benefits to red wine, “some research suggests that whole grapes deliver the same amount of antioxidants that are in grape juice and wine, but have the added benefit of providing dietary fiber,” according to the Mayo Clinic.
6. AVOCADOS • CHOLESTEROL KILLERS
Yes, the avocado is a fruit. And what a fruit it is, acting as a scrumptious ingredient in our favorite recipes for salads, soups, and guacamole. Avocados contain fat, but don’t let that scare you off—we’re talking about the “good” kind, also known as unsaturated fats, which help lower cholesterol. Studies show that maintaining a healthy diet that focuses on unsaturated fats can fight high cholesterol as effectively as medication, reports Natural News. Briefly, there are two types of cholesterol; low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol (the “bad” cholesterol) and high-density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol (the “good” kind). And women need to differentiate between the two. According to Heart Healthy Women, “In women, LDL cholesterol increases an average of 2 mg/dL a year between the ages of 40 and 60. This increase is partly due to the decline in the hormone estrogen that occurs with the menopause.” And LDL is a leading cause of artery-clogging plaque, which causes heart disease and stroke. “In a study of mostly postmenopausal women, those with the highest levels of bad cholesterol were three times more likely to suffer a heart attack or die from heart disease than women with the lowest levels.” Instead of being frightened by the numbers, whip up a healthy meal utilizing the super fruit that is avocado—like Mamiverse Food’s own recipes for Arepa Reina Pepiada and Grrreat Guacamole.