Little-known fruits that pack an antioxidant punch
(7 months ago)
Washington D.C. [USA], Nov 1 : Move over blueberries, cranberries, blackberries and strawberries, five new antioxidant powerhouses have been found!
According to a study supported by the Sao Paulo Research Foundation, five fruit trees native to the Atlantic Rainforest have powerful antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties.
The research states that native Brazilian species araca-piranga (E. leitonii), cereja-do-rio-grande (E. involucrata), grumixama (E. brasiliensis) e ubajai (E. myrcianthes) - all from genus Eugenia - and bacupari-mirim (Garcinia brasiliensis) are examples of functional foods, which besides vitamins and nutritional values, have bioactive properties, such as the capacity to combat free radicals - unstable, highly reactive atoms that bind to other atoms in the organism and cause damage, such as cellular aging or disease.
"We knew they could contain a large number of anti-oxidants, just like the well-known berries of the US and Europe, such as the blueberry, blackberry, and strawberry, with which scientists are so familiar", told Severino Matias Alencar from the University of Sao Paulo's Luiz de Queiroz Agricultural College (ESALQ-USP). "Our native berries proved [to be] even better."
Researcher Pedro Rosalen said that diet is strategic in combating free radicals. Although our body contains substances that neutralize and eliminate free radicals, this natural neutralization can be unbalanced by means of age, stress and poor alimentation. "If so, exogenous elements are required, particularly the intake of foods with anti-oxidant agents, such as flavonoids or anthocyanins from araca-piranga, E. leitonii, and other fruits of the Eugenias", said Rosalen, "Bioprospection of novel anti-inflammatory molecules from natural Brazilian native products .
Not only anti-oxidants fight aging, but they also work in the prevention of diseases mediated by chronic inflammation, explained Rosalen. "The oxidative action of free radicals leads to the appearance of dependent inflammatory diseases, such as diabetes, cancer, arthritis, obesity and Alzheimer's. These are silent inflammations, hence the importance of anti-oxidants."
The study evaluated phenolic compounds - chemicals that can have preventive or curative effects - and the anti-inflammatory and anti-oxidant mechanisms of material extracted from the five fruits' leaves, seeds, and pulp.
The project studied fruits with strong anti-oxidant activity - for use by the food and pharmaceutical industries - and with anti-inflammatory properties. The standout was E. leitonii, as Rosalen highlighted.