Although there is no universal standard definition of a super seed or super fruit, they are often described as providing a number of nutrients and health benefits all in one package. In the March issue of Food Technology published by the Institute of Food Technologists (IFT), contributing editor Linda Milo Ohr writes about nine seeds and superfruits that fit the bill for consumers’ desire for natural, minimally processed foods.
- 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.
- Flaxseeds:Flaxseeds are a good source of protein, fibre, 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 (Health Canada, 2014).
- Sunflower Seeds:Often considered a traditional ballpark snack, sunflower seeds provide monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats, protein, fibre, vitamin E, and phytochemicals like choline, lignan, phenolic acids and betaine (Phillips, 2005).
- Pumpkin Seeds:Pumpkin seeds are packed with protein, fibre, manganese, magnesium, and phosphorus.
- Blueberries:Daily blueberry consumption may reduce blood pressure and arterial stiffness (Johnson, 2015) and are packed with fibre, 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.
- 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).