Why Superfruits Are Nature’s Nutritional Powerhouses

Superfruits support your daily intake of key nutrients and taste good! In this article, I take a closer look at a few of my favorite superfruits – goji berries, goldenberries, mulberries and cacao nibs.

These superfruits won’t disappoint – snack on them straight-up, mix them together, or combine them with other ingredients to make a kick-ass trail mix or complete a meal.

Why Superfruits Are Nature’s Nutritional Powerhouses

Superfruits Trail Mix

Together, the superfruits: gojis, goldenberries, mulberries and cacao nibs share an all-star micronutrient lineup of:

  • Amino acids
  • Antioxidants
  • Beta carotene (Vitamin A)
  • Calcium
  • Dietary fiber
  • Iron
  • Magnesium
  • Omega fatty acids
  • Polyphenols
  • Potassium
  • Resveratrol
  • Vitamin B
  • Vitamin C
  • Vitamin E

…and more!

Let’s dive a litter deeper. Continue reading to learn more about the health benefits of these nutritional powerhouses.


Goji berries

Superfruits Goji berries
Goji Berries

The goji berry is also known as:

    • Lycium barbarum
    • Fructus lycii
    • Wolf berry
  • Used in Asian herbal medicine for over 6,000 years to promote longevity and treat illnesses ranging from liver damage to poor circulation, the goji berry is considered to be one of the most nutrient-rich foods on earth.
  • Goji berries are packed with essential amino acids and antioxidants such as polyphenols, flavonoids and carotenoids.
  • Gojis also contain Vitamin A, B1, B2, B6, C and E.

More nutrition facts about goji berries

  • One serving (1 ounce/28g) of dried goji berries contains 11 essential vitamins and 21 trace minerals, as well as:
    • 100 calories
    • 4 grams of protein
    • 4% of our recommended daily value (DV) of calcium
    • 9% DV of potassium
    • 10% DV of iron
    • 12% DV of dietary fiber
    • 20% DV of Vitamin C
    • 140% DV of Vitamin A
  • Goji berries have a high Oxygen Radical Absorbance Capacity (ORAC) score of 3,290, which shows that they contain larger concentrations of antioxidants than many other fruits. High levels of antioxidants guard against degenerative diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis, Alzheimer’s disease and cancer.
  • Containing approximately 500 times more Vitamin C per-weight than an orange, these berries are great for the immune system.
  • Goji berries possess more Vitamin A (beta-carotene) per-weight than carrots and more iron than spinach.
  • They contain high levels of the carotenoid, zeaxanthin, which is thought to improve eye health. In one study, goji berries were found to reduce the risk of developing age-related macular degeneration.
  • Goji berries are low in calories and contain 8 polysaccharides, which are primary sources of dietary fiber. This enhances digestion and promotes weight loss.
  • These berries contain 4 grams of plant-based protein per serving.

Note: According to WebMD, anyone who uses blood thinners (like Warfaran/Coumadin), takes diabetic medication, or is allergic to pollen and/or nightshades may experience a negative reaction from eating goji berries.

Taste and texture

  • Dried goji berries are deep red in color and have a soft, chewy texture.
  • They have a mild, tangy taste that is slightly bitter with a sweet berry aftertaste.
  • Some describe gojis as having a unique flavor reminiscent of a cross between dried cherries, cranberries and raisins.

Where to buy

  • You can find dried goji berries at Chinese herbal shops, select health food stores and markets like Trader Joe’s and Whole Foods.
  • I use Navitas Naturals Organic Sun-Dried Goji Berries in my trail mixes. To purchase Navitas Naturals online, click one of the links below:
    1. Navitas Naturals Organic Goji Berries, 1 Pound Pouches
    2. Or register free for Thrive Market, an online store offering best-selling natural and organic products at wholesale prices. After registering, you will receive 15% off your first purchase, be given the option to start a free 30-day trial membership, and if you like what you see, you can join the community to save 25-50% off all goods (food, home, personal care, beauty and supplements) – superfruits included. I do a lot of my shopping through the Thrive Market website and have saved a lot of money on my pantry staples!

Goldenberries

Superfruits Goldenberries
Dried Goldenberries

The golden berry is also known as:

    • Amour en cage (French for “love in a cage”)
    • Aztec berry
    • Cape goose berry (when fresh)
    • Giant ground cherry
    • Husk cherry
    • Incan berry (when dried)
    • “Lost Incan Crop”Uchuva
    • Peruvian cherry
    • Physalis peruviana
    • Pichuberry
    • Poha berry
  • Goldenberries are South American superfruits that are loaded with beneficial nutrients and antioxidants/flavonoids.
  • The fresh golden berry fruit is the size of a marble, resembles a miniature spherical yellow tomato, and is closely related to the tomatillo.
  • Used for many years in traditional folk medicine practices, goldenberries are believed to help maintain a healthy weight, prevent cellular aging, boost immunity and improve organ function.
  • They contain Vitamins A, C, E, K1, B1, B2, and B3, fatty acids, phytosterols and are a good source of dietary fiber.
  • Trace amounts of calcium and iron are also found in goldenberries.

More nutrition facts about goldenberries

  • One serving (1 ounce/28g) of dried goldenberries contains:
    • 80 calories
    • 2 grams of protein
    • 4% DV of Vitamin C
    • 6% DV of iron
    • 14% DV of potassium
    • 24% DV of dietary fiber
    • 25% DV of Vitamin A
  • Goldenberries have a total antioxidant activity (IC50 :0.81 μ g/ml) close to that of Vitamin C (IC50 : 0.89 μ g/ml).
  • They are one of the most abundant sources of Vitamin C available among all fruits and plants. Their Vitamin C levels reach as much as 20 times of that found in an orange.
  • Goldenberries are a great source of Vitamin A (beta carotene).
  • Some health experts believe goldenberries are anti-diabetic fruits. Goldenberries aid in reducing sugar levels in the blood and stimulating hormones that secrete insulin in diabetic patients. They contain linoleic and oleic acid, two essential fatty acids that aid in insulin sensitivity and fat oxidation.
  • Goldenberries are low in calories.
  • One serving of goldenberries provides a healthy dose of dietary fiber, pectin, protein and phosphorous.
  • Goldenberries contain 2 grams of plant-based protein per serving.

Taste and texture

  • Dried goldenberries have a soft, wrinkly, thick-skinned exterior that is yellow/orange in color.
  • The inside is chewy and somewhat seedy like a tomato.
  • Goldenberries possess a unique and robust mouth-puckering flavor that is slightly sweet and very tangy/tart.
  • Some believe the taste of goldenberries is reminiscent of citrus sweet-and-sour candy (“Nature’s Sour Patch Kids”).

Where to buy

  • You can find dried goldenberries at Chinese herbal shops, select health food stores and markets like Trader Joe’s and Whole Foods.
  • I use Navitas Naturals Vine-Ripened Goldenberries in my trail mixes. To purchase Navitas Naturals online, click one of the links below:
    1. Navitas Naturals Organic Goldenberries, 8-Ounce Pouches (Pack of 2)
    2. Or purchase via Thrive Market, the online store I mentioned earlier that offers natural and organic products at wholesale prices.

Note: Goldenberries are members of the nightshade family. If you have an allergy to nightshades, stay away.


Mulberries

superfruits mulberries
Dried Mulberries
  • Mulberries are ancient superfruits native to the Morus genus of trees that are found in many parts of the world. Mulberries originated in the Far East, traveling along the Silk Road from China to Turkey.
  • There are 24 species of mulberry trees and the most commonly grown species are:
    • Black (Morus nigra); native to western Asia
    • Red (Morus rubra); American mulberry; native to eastern United States
    • White (Morus alba); native to eastern and central China
  • Traditionally, mulberry trees are grown in Asia and North America for their leaves, as they are the only food that silkworms can eat.
  • Mulberries are in the same family (Moraceae) as figs but fresh mulberries look similar to blackberries.
  • These berries are an excellent source of nutrients including iron, calcium, Vitamin C, protein, dietary fiber and antioxidants.
  • Chinese herbal medicine has used mulberry trees for thousands of years to treat ailments like diabetes, heart disease, anemia and arthritis.

More nutrition facts about mulberries

  • One serving (1 ounce/28g) of dried mulberries contains:
    • 90 calories
    • 3 grams of protein
    • 2% DV of Vitamin A
    • 8% DV of calcium
    • 16% DV of dietary fiber
    • 20% DV of iron
    • 130% DV of Vitamin C
  • Mulberries contain alkaloids that activate macrophages, which are white blood cells that help to stimulate the immune system.
  • Some studies have shown that Mulberries contain compounds that aid in balancing blood sugar levels within the body.
  • Animal studies show that mulberries and mulberry extracts can reduce excess fat and lower cholesterol levels within the body.
  • Mulberries have high amounts of flavonoid phytochemicals called anthocyanins. The consumption of anthocyanins can help protect against cancer, aging, neurological diseases, inflammation, diabetes and bacterial infections.
  • These berries contain resveratrol, another powerful flavonoid antioxidant. Resveratrol has been shown to promote longevity and protect against strokes.
  • Mulberries contain 3 grams of plant-based protein per serving.

Note: Mulberry allergies are rare, but individuals sensitive to birch pollen may experience allergic reactions to mulberries.

Taste and texture

  • Dried mulberries are light tan in color and have a bumpy exterior.
  • They have a chewy texture, earthy flavor and a sweet aftertaste.
  • Some say mulberries are similar to a dried fig in flavor.

Where to buy

  • You can find dried mulberries at Chinese herbal shops, select health food stores and markets like Trader Joe’s and Whole Foods.
  • I use Navitas Naturals Sun-Dried White Mulberries in my trail mixes. To purchase Navitas Naturals online, click one of the links below:
    1. Navitas Naturals Organic Mulberries, 4-Ounce Pouches
    2. Or purchase via Thrive Market, the online store I mentioned earlier that offers natural and organic products at wholesale prices.

Raw cacao nibs

raw cacao nibs
Raw Cacao Nibs
  • The health properties of raw cacao have been enjoyed for thousands of years.
  • Cacao beans come from Theobroma cacao trees which grow in the Amazon Basin, Orinoco River Basin, Ghana, Brazil, Philippines, Ecuador, Papua New Guinea, Togo and and seven Caribbean countries.
  • The cacao tree grows to be 10-30 feet in height and bears fruits four years after planting. The fruits of the cacao tree are called cacao pods. Each pod weighs about one pound and contains several cacao beans.
  • The word cacao originates from the Olmec people (first major civilization in Mexico).
  • Raw cacao is chocolate in its purest form, before other ingredients have been added.
  • Raw cacao nibs come from cacao beans that have been harvested, dried, dehulled, fermented and chopped into very small pieces.
  • Cacao is considered to be one of nature’s most nutritionally complex foods, as it is a rich source of antioxidants, vitamins, minerals (iron and magnesium) and dietary fiber.

More nutrition facts about raw cacao nibs

  • One ounce (28g) of raw cacao nibs contains:
    • 130 calories
    • 4 grams of protein
    • 2% DV of calcium
    • 5% DV of potassium
    • 8% DV of iron
    • 16% DV of magnesium
    • 36% DV of dietary fiber
  • Raw cacao is considered to be one of the most antioxidant-rich foods on the planet.
  • Raw cacao is also naturally rich in powerful chemical alkaloids including anandamide, phenethylamine and theobromine.
    • Anandamide, a lipid, is also known as “the bliss molecule” because its natural molecular shape represents that of THC, the active ingredient in marijuana. Anandamide has been associated with improving motivation and increasing pleasure.
    • Phenylethylamine (PEA) is an adrenal-related chemical that our bodies naturally produce. We make PEA when we are excited. It causes the pulse to quicken, and helps us to feel focused and alert.
    • Theobromine is a nervous system stimulant which makes up two percent of the cacao bean and is in the same molecular class as caffeine (but 10 times weaker). Theobromine is what makes cacao and chocolate unsafe for dogs, and some people find that it affects them the way caffeine might.
  • The combination of phenylethylamine and theobromine in cacao has been linked to increasing serotonin and dopamine levels in the brain which helps to induce feelings of well being, boost cognitive abilities, and decrease appetite.
  • Cacao beans are one of the best dietary sources of magnesium, a mineral responsible for over 300 biochemical reactions in our bodies – many related to muscle, nerve and cardiac function.
  • With 9 grams of fiber in one ounce, cacao nibs support digestive health.
  • Cacao nibs are good sources of iron, which is necessary for red blood cell production.
  • Cacao nibs contain 4 grams of plant-based protein per serving.

Note: Raw cacao may present negative side effects for some individuals.

  • Cacao can be addictive. Some health experts suggest that cacao may be one of the most addictive substances in the world.
  • Raw cacao acts as a stimulant, which can negatively affect sleep and/or agitate kidneys and/or adrenal glands.
  • Overconsumption of raw cacao leads to high levels of theobromine within the body, which can negatively affect the body’s central nervous system and may lead to a variety of health conditions including depression, insomnia, nightmares, tremors, restlessness, anxiety, heart palpitations, chronic fatigue, loss of appetite, nausea, mood swings and paranoia.
  • In mega doses (40 beans or more), raw cacao may act as a hallucinogen and can cause reactions similar to that of the psychedelic drug, LSD (Lysergic acid diethylamide).

Taste and texture

  • Raw cacao nibs have a dark brown color with a texture similar to that of roasted coffee beans. They are crunchy and hard with a fibrous grit.
  • They have a strong scent and an acquired taste. Cacao’s flavor is very intense and is a cross between raw dark chocolate and a coffee bean.
  • Cacao nibs have an extremely bitter aftertaste similar to baking chocolate.
  • The flavor initially gives you a strong, cocoa and nutty hit and then a bitter, winey fermented flavor that is difficult to describe.

Where to buy

  • You can find raw cacao nibs at Chinese herbal shops, select health food stores and markets like Trader Joe’s and Whole Foods.
  • I use Navitas Naturals Raw Cacao Nibs in my trail mixes. To purchase Navitas Naturals online, click one of the links below:
    1. Navitas Naturals Organic Raw Cacao Nibs, 16-Ounce Pouches (Pack of 2)
    2. Or purchase via Thrive Market, the online store I mentioned earlier that offers natural and organic products at wholesale prices.

The ultimate kick-ass superfood trail mix recipe

Superfruits Trail Mix With Fruit
Superfruit Trail Mix With Fruit

Now that you have the information, it is time to get your nosh on. Guess what? I am going to save you the pain of scouring the Internet for a recipe. All you have to do is click the link below! My most favorite trail mix recipe of all time is (…drum roll please…):

The Ultimate Superfood Trail Mix 

Conclusion

So there you have it – a nutritional breakdown of my favorite nutrient-rich superfruits: goji berries, goldenberries, mulberries and cacao nibs! Set aside room in the pantry for these disease-fighting, vitamin touting, antioxidant slinging bad asses and your body will thank you.

Thoughts?

Please tell me what you think.

  • Out of the superfruits I listed, which is your favorite and which is your least favorite? (My least favorite are raw cacao nibs. I have learned that I can only tolerate these in small doses.)
  • Did anything in this post surprise you or do you have more facts to share?

Photo credits

  1. www.pilgrimhealth.com (dried goji berries in bowl)
  2. www.bokusuperfood.com (dried goldenberries)
  3. www.fuguestock.deviantart.com (dried mulberries)
  4. www.barefootprovisions.com (cacao nibs in bowl)

References

  1. Ahmed, L. (2014). Renoprotective Effect of Egyptian Cape Gooseberry Fruit (Physalis peruviana L.) against Acute Renal Injury in Rats. The Scientific World Journal, 2014, 1-7. http://dx.doi.org/10.1155/2014/273870
  2. BH, W. (2015). Anti-diabetic effect of a traditional Chinese medicine formula. – PubMed – NCBI. Ncbi.nlm.nih.gov. Retrieved 11 November 2015, from http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22899105
  3. Cheng, C., Chung, W., Szeto, Y., & Benzie, I. (2005). Fasting plasma zeaxanthin response to Fructus barbarum L. (wolfberry; Kei Tze) in a food-based human supplementation trial. BJN, 93(01), 123. http://dx.doi.org/10.1079/bjn20041284
  4. Choi JS, Koh IU, Jung MH, Song J. Effects of three different conjugated linoleic acid preparations on insulin signalling, fat oxidation and mitochondrial function in rats fed a high-fat diet. British Journal of Nutrition. 2007 August;98(2):264-75.
  5. Coles, T. (2013). Cacao Nibs: Even Better For You Than Dark Chocolate. The Huffington Post. Retrieved 13 November 2015, from http://www.huffingtonpost.ca/2013/08/02/cacao-nibs_n_3695571.html
  6. Haytowitz, D., & Bhagwat, S. (2010). USDA Database for the Oxygen Radical Absorbance Capacity (ORAC) of Selected Foods, Release 2. Nutrient Data Laboratory Home Page. Retrieved 7 November 2015, from http://www.orac-info-portal.de/download/ORAC_R2.pdf
  7. Imran M, e. (2015). Chemical composition and antioxidant activity of certain Morus species. – PubMed – NCBI. Ncbi.nlm.nih.gov. Retrieved 11 November 2015, from http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21121077
  8. Kim SB, Chang BY, Jo YH, Lee SH, Han SB, Hwang BY, Kim SY, Lee MK. Macrophage activating activity of pyrrole alkaloids from Morus alba fruits. J Ethnopharmacol. 2013 Jan 9;145(1):393-6. doi: 10.1016/j.jep.2012.11.007. Epub 2012 Nov 16.
  9. Larramendi CH, e. (2015). Goji berries (Lycium barbarum): risk of allergic reactions in individuals with food allergy. – PubMed – NCBI. Ncbi.nlm.nih.gov. Retrieved 12 November 2015, from http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23101309
  10. Navitas Naturals,. (2015). Cacao Nibs. Retrieved 9 November 2015, from http://navitasnaturals.com/product/439/Cacao-Nibs.html
  11. Navitas Naturals,. (2015). Goji Berries. Retrieved 9 November 2015, from http://navitasnaturals.com/product/449/Goji-Berries.html
  12. Navitas Naturals,. (2015). Goldenberries. Retrieved 8 November 2015, from http://navitasnaturals.com/product/451/Goldenberries.html
  13. Sciencedirect.com,. (2015). Phytochemical and antioxidant properties of anthocyanin-rich Morus nigra and Morus rubra fruits. Retrieved 11 November 2015, from http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0304423808003403
  14. Shankar S, e. (2015). Chemoprevention by resveratrol: molecular mechanisms and therapeutic potential. – PubMed – NCBI. Ncbi.nlm.nih.gov. Retrieved 11 November 2015, from http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/17569614
  15. Sisson, M. (2008). Smart Fuel: Goji Berries | Mark’s Daily Apple. Mark’s Daily Apple. Retrieved 8 November 2015, from http://www.marksdailyapple.com/goji-berries/#axzz3quZVb4G8
  16. Villacorta, M. (2015). Pichuberry: Peru’s Exotic Fruit | Eating Free. Eatingfree.com. Retrieved 9 November 2015, from http://www.eatingfree.com/blog/2012/07/19/pichuberry-peru-exotic-fruit/

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Author Details
Founder and CEO of BambooCore
Jennifer is a certified NASM Personal Trainer, MovNat Trainer, and a C.H.E.K Holistic Lifestyle/Nutrition Coach. As the Founder and CEO of BambooCore Fitness, she delivers sustainable lifestyle, nutrition and movement strategies to people looking to improve their health and performance.

When she is not slaying fat and building muscle, Jennifer can be found trekking barefoot, traveling, cooking and refining her photography skills. She also enjoys reading and writing about food culture, history and the science of human movement.
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Founder and CEO of BambooCore
Jennifer is a certified NASM Personal Trainer, MovNat Trainer, and a C.H.E.K Holistic Lifestyle/Nutrition Coach. As the Founder and CEO of BambooCore Fitness, she delivers sustainable lifestyle, nutrition and movement strategies to people looking to improve their health and performance.

When she is not slaying fat and building muscle, Jennifer can be found trekking barefoot, traveling, cooking and refining her photography skills. She also enjoys reading and writing about food culture, history and the science of human movement.

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