Updated: Jun 2
The heat this week in Philadelphia inspired this blog post on tropical superfoods. These fruits are perfect to enjoy during the warmer months, fantastic for our bodies, and just an all-around fun category of food to get down on. All whole plant foods are essentially superfoods, however typically known superfoods contain specific components such as vitamins, minerals, phytochemicals, and a high micronutrient density which give them their nomenclature. These can include camu-camu, goji berries, açai berries, and blueberries. We are going to touch on a couple of unexpected as well as trendy options on the market.
In the news…
The marketing strategies within the past decade around superfoods are one we can finally stand behind. The advertisements which typically occupy our social media, televisions, and news publications tend to promote an unhealthy diet and lifestyle. By getting people excited about carcinogens such as dairy, meat, and alcohol, studies can be skewed in the desired direction of the publication and products as well as being funded by big meat, big dairy, etc. “Butter is Back,” “The Incredible, Edible Egg,” “Red Wine is Good For You,” and the explosion of low carb/low sugar diets. We can happily crush all of these headlines but the most relevant ones to this particular blogpost are anti-sugar and red wine. Superfood fruits contain antioxidants that are known to prevent and delay certain types of cell damage in your body. Antioxidants are primarily found in natural forms of fruits and vegetables. The most natural way to eat sugar and sweeten your recipes is through whole foods. It’s the antioxidants in the grapes in wine that give the publicized health benefits, not the alcohol. As for popular low carb/low sugar diets, it’s important to understand that fruit should not be avoided. Fruits contain vitamins, phytonutrients, fiber, and antioxidants - the whole package, unlike white sugars and high-fructose corn syrups.
Pink pitaya, or dragon fruit is found in tropical regions of Southeast Asia and South America. This fruit can be used as a nutraceutical (functional food). Pitaya is known to carry antimicrobial, antidiabetic, and anticancer properties. This tropical superfood encompasses phytochemical components within the flesh, seeds, and peel. High levels of concentration of polyphenols, beta-cyanins, and amino acids are exhibited in the seeds and peels. They are also high in Vitamin C, a water-soluble essential vitamin that has been known to boost immunity and lower blood pressure. Pink pitaya is known for its hot pink, spiky exterior, and equally vibrant pink seedy interior. They can be eaten as a whole fruit or even dried and used as an all-natural food coloring.
Açai berries, native to tropical Central and South America, are famous for their powerful anti-inflammatory, polyphenol, and antioxidant properties. Polyphenols are phytonutrients that naturally occur within plants. These specific nutrients are said to aid in lowering the risk of inflammatory conditions including type 2 diabetes, obesity, and cardiovascular disease. Studies around açai berries have also shown favorable changes in the cholesterol profile within the circulatory system. The buzz around the açai bowl exploded in the past several years. Açai has somewhat of a tart, earthy flavor to it. So when you add bananas, granola, coconut, and berries, it makes for a myriad of flavor profiles that work in symphony with one another.
A bit easier to find in the U.S. than pitaya and açai, pineapple helps to protect against summer heat with its thirst-quenching, hydrating properties. Pineapple is a natural diuretic (increases the production of urine) that has been shown to treat sunstroke, diarrhea, swelling, and indigestion. Pineapples contain bromelin, an enzyme that promotes digestion. Ensure you cut into a pineapple when it is ripe. Underripe pineapple can be really acidic.
Papaya aids in digestion and can help to tone the stomach (insert your favorite excited emoji here!). When papaya is eaten, it helps to moisten the lungs which alleviate coughing and treats excess mucus buildup. Papaya seeds can be eaten along with the fruit itself. Known to destroy most cases of intestinal worms and provide anti-tumor activity, papaya carries a multitude of medicinal properties.
Tropical Superfoods at P.S. & Co.