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  • In nutrition, is there evidence for a category of “super” fruit and vegetables? Are there accepted definitions that make “superfruit” more than just a marketing term?

    Unfortunately, the answer to both questions is a firm “maybe.” In retrospect from the vantage of late 2014, the “super” in “superfruit” seems to have arisen chiefly from the novelty of a small number of ingredients that have not typically been part of Western diets. Also important was a period of giddy promotion by The Oprah Winfrey Show and The Dr. Oz Show circa 2008. The primary initial objects of the “buzz” and, let’s face it, hype, were probably only a handful of items that included acai berry, acerola, goji berry and pomegranate that were promoted as exhibiting unique health benefits.

    By late 2009, the producers of The Oprah Winfrey and Dr. Oz Shows were backpedaling from promotions that were widely presented as endorsements of superfruit greater nutrition and health advantages not shared by ordinary fruit and vegetables. Today the pendulum, after years of enthusiasm and attempts to add ever more exotic fruit and vegetables to the category, has swung back the opposite direction due to consumer fatigue.

    Novelty is important to the category. There are some superfruits, such as sea-buckthorn berries, which are widely consumed in Europe and Asia, yet barely known in America. Black currant is another item with tremendous nutritional value that is widely consumed in Europe, but has not taken off here. Given that black currant is equivalent in nutrition to recognized superfruits such as bilberry and cranberry, and far superior to acai berry, its slow launch into this market is a bit of a mystery.

    The next interesting developments in super foods at this point likely will not involve actual superfruit, but may encompass vegetables, as well. The “fruit” side of the category has been expanded very far already. Instead, emerging foods such as the extremely anthocyanin-rich black rice (the “forbidden” “longevity” rice) and the new black garlic may be the next wave to capture consumer attention. Asia, the source of many items considered to be superfruit in the US, is not immune to the category, as black garlic and black rice attest. Another super food in parts of Asia, again a vegetable, are “wild” and “mountain” varieties of bitter melon.

    Pomegranate, bilberry, blueberry, goji, cranberry and grape will continue to be popular because they have defined niches and histories of use. Moreover, each is backed by considerable science and on-going research. Other current superfruit entries may not continue to be so successful in the marketplace. Acai, despite its current presence, may not endure because there remains little or even no science behind it. In its native Brazil, acai is used for weight gain; in America, it is sold for weight loss. Both of these uses cannot be right and the lack of science already has caught up with many acai products.

    Superfruit As A Category
    The idea behind this marketing term is that these fruits are exceptionally rich in nutrients, perhaps especially antioxidants. Commonly known fruits seldom have been marketed as superfruits despite the nutrient density of many of them; the key is exoticism and marketing plus, usually, new taste or aroma sensations.

    Quality control can represent difficulties. Fruits from exotic locales may be hard to police for continuity in color, taste, nutrient content, and so forth. Fruits sourced from areas that continue to use leaded gasoline can bring special issues for testing and quality control. Moreover, many of the so-called superfruit are the subjects of limited cultivation, which means that suddenly demand can seriously distort availability and pricing.

    Superfruit As Antioxidants And The Changing Acceptance Of Orac Testing
    One common promotion of superfruit has been for antioxidant capacity, something often measured as ORAC. Oxygen radical absorbance capacity (ORAC) is a method of measuring antioxidant capacities in samples. ORAC includes more than just antioxidant capacity. Testing labs can break out fast- and slow-acting antioxidants, the status of free radical generation in terms of peroxide and hydroxyl radicals, and so forth and so on. At one point in time, it was thought that ORAC values of total antioxidant capacity of supplements would provide good guides to the overall health promoting capacities of these products. However, today it is realized that the role of antioxidants in the body is not so simple. For instance, supposed ORAC measures of the antioxidant value of vitamin E vary widely. Vitamin E has been reported as only slightly inferior to astaxanthin as an antioxidant and also as 550 percent less potent. Moreover, although vitamin E is a great antioxidant, two decades of clinical research has failed to demonstrate unequivocal health benefits. The consensus today is that there is no direct relationship between antioxidant activity per se and health activity.

    Matters get worse. Antioxidant claims are made for hundreds of nutrients, but this leads to a marketing paradox. To paraphrase a famous observation, if every supplement is an antioxidant, then being an antioxidant no longer is anything special. ORAC claims today do not carry the marketing punch that they carried a decade ago. ORAC claims may still be useful, but nutrients now need to demonstrate specific benefits. For instance, black currant offers more than just an extremely potent ORAC value — it also offers potent and proven protection for the brain and the eyes from its content of particular anthocyanins, including delphinidin-3-rutinoside and cyanidin- 3-glucoside. Similar protection is found with bilberry. Just presenting a high ORAC value will not confer these protections.

    Some Superfruits And Vegetables Of Note

    No matter how one looks at American eating habits, it is clear that additional nutrition of the sort supplied by fruits and vegetables should be welcomed. For instance, less than ten percent of American teenagers consume the recommended daily allotment of fruits and vegetables. Here are some of the choices currently available:

    Bilberry — Wild blueberry (Vaccinium angustifolium) is a lowgrowing shrubs in the genus Vaccinium (family Ericaceae); it is a rich source of several different anthocyanins, bilberry is famous for supporting night vision and intestinal health as well as neurologic, metabolic and cardiovascular health; a similar fruit in terms of benefits and contents is the maqui berry (Aristotelia chilensis).

    Bitter Melon — Also known as bitter gourd (Momordica charantia), this vegetable is widely viewed as providing significant benefits in diabetes and, in its wild and mountain forms, for promoting longevity (see the Total Health website article on this topic).

    Cherries — The dark varieties are rich in anthocyanins, with tart cherries (Prunus cerasus) being especially rich in these nutrients; significant anti-inflammatory, especially for joint aches and pains and muscle pain and stress from exercise and overexertion; cardioprotective.

    Cranberry— Cranberries (Vaccinium macrocarpon) are best known for supporting urinary health, in particular inhibiting bacteria from attaching to the bladder wall Goji — Goji or wolfberry (Lycium barbarum) has been promoted for a large variety of benefits and conditions, including diabetes, high blood pressure, fever, and age-related eye problems.

    Mangosteen — Mangosteen (Garcinia mangostana) contains various anthocyanins, xanthones and tannins; useful for inflammation, intestinal and immune health.

    Pomegranate — Pomegranate (Punica granatum) is an ancient fruit famous for its healthful properties since ancient times; supports cardiovascular health, prostate health, metabolic health, exercise recovery and many other benefits; is on the coat of arms of many medical organizations stretching back to the high Middle Ages in Europe.

    Many or even most of the superfruits and vegetables beginning to make their names in the US have long records of promoting health in other parts of the world. These foods provide concentrated nutrition based on healthful phytochemical components. Some of the superfruits and vegetables, although exotic in origin, can readily be made a part of the daily diet. This, of course, is the best way to approach superfruits, i.e., move them out of the “exotic” category and into a daily use category. Small changes in habits can then be harnessed to provide real health benefits over the long run.

  • Editor's note: We love all things Chia. It has so many health benefits. Chia seeds are truly a superfood. We are very happy to promote one of our favorite product lines from Essential Formulas that incorporates the benefits of Chia with synergistic components like D3, CoQ10, Enzymes, and EPA and DHA.

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  • Dear Readers,

    Welcome to the July 2017 issue of TotalHealth Online.

    We begin with "The Pill Problem," by Ross Pelton, RPh, PhD, CCN. "Several years ago when I wrote a book titled The Drug-Induced Nutrient Depletion Handbook, I was amazed to find that oral contraceptives deplete a wide range of nutrients from a woman's body. In fact, oral contraceptives deplete more nutrients than any other class of commonly prescribed drugs." Pelton discusses health problems that can develop from using oral contraceptives and suggests an new, natural, non-hormonal alternative with no spermicides. Pelton is the scientific director at Essential Formulas and a long time advertiser with TotalHealth magazine.

    Sherrill Sellman, ND, in "Finally—A Safe, Natural, Non-Hormonal Contraceptive With No Side Effects." Sellman introduces readers to Dr. Françoise Farron, a fiercely determined woman and biochemist, who is passionate about her mission to save the lives of women worldwide. After years of research, she has succeeded in bringing her vision of a truly safe and effective, non-hormonal contraceptive solution, called Smart Women's Choice, to market.

    Dallas Clouatre's, PhD, article, "Bone Broths are Good For What Ails You," provides us history on broths and observations, not from the scientific literature on the benefits of making your own bone broths. Clouatre includes a listing of the a few of the nutrients found in bone broths. And how it reacts with the bodies healing in response to illness.

    In "Organic Apple Cider The Versatile Superfood Staple" Ann Louise Gittleman, PhD, CNS gives us the health benefits of apple cider vinegar from her new book, The NEW Fat Flush Plan.

    Don't be insulted reading "Fibromyalgia—Orthostatic Intolerance (NMH & POTS) Made Easy by Jacob Teitelbaum, MD, when he refers to us as "bags of water." He explains how the body's autonomic nervous system directs the blood vessels in our legs to contract and send the blood back up to our brain and muscles where it's needed. Orthostatic intolerance is a major and treatable part of what causes disability in CFS and fibromyalgia. And research has shown that many people diagnosed with NMH and POTS actually have CFS or fibromyalgia. Read on, Dr. Teitelbaum is our contributing expert on CFS and fibromyalgia.

    Gene Bruno, MS, MHS, RH(AHG), describes symptoms and conventional treatments and also dietary supplements: primary and secondary recommendations in "Angina Pectoris" (chest pain or discomfort due to coronary heart disease). Important information for all of us.

    Gloria Gilbère, CDP, DAHom, PhD, presents "Crunchy Nutrition Chips," a healthy alternative to the usual chips available. You replace the potatoes with healthy veggies like, carrots or beets and lets you control the amount of salt on your chips.

    Elson Haas, MD, "Seasonal Health and Summertime Fun." Haas takes us on a journey through the seasons and specifically the summer season and its influence on us, eating, sleeping and exercise habits. Individually we are in charge of those habits. He gives us insight on keeping ourselves healthy through the summer season.

    Shawn Messonnier, DVM includes our look at pet health with his article on "Distemper in Pets."

    Best in health,

    TWIP The Wellness Imperative People

    Click here to read the full July issue.

    Click here to read the full July issue.

  • For plant-centric foodies like myself, fall harvest is one of the best seasons of the year, and for good reason. With fruits and vegetables taking center stage, now is the time to load up on edible powerhouses that are packed with vitamins, minerals and disease fighting antioxidants to keep you feeling strong, energized and on the top of your game all fall. These types of foods are considered the best way to reduce risk for chronic diseases, achieve and maintain a healthy weight and live a longer, healthier life.

    By now I'm sure you've heard the term 'superfoods,' and know they pack a serious punch for optimal health benefits. These types of foods are rich in phytochemicals and have a high level of nutrient value. Consider this: with superfoods, there are no side effects. And for an added bonus, they put you in a good mood, so what's the downside? That's just it-there is none. Soon, leaves will start to change color, and the wind will blow a little cooler. So now's the time to start thinking about which fresh autumn superfoods to incorporate in to your diet to boost your health.

    Half the battle is having a plan and being aware of what foods can give you the most benefit. When the food option is not available or convenient for your routine, consider the supplement counterpart to complement your diet.

    Cranberries provide more disease-fighting antioxidants than any other fruit and vegetable on the table. This berry is a popular part of many Thanksgiving feasts. Best known for its ability to fight off urinary tract infections (UTIs), cranberry also has many more disease fighting qualities. Cranberries have a high concentration of phenols, which are good for fighting cancer, stomach infections, heart disease and strokes.

    Try adding cranberries to leafy green salads, sprinkle dried cranberries on cheese and cracker boards or incorporate into cookie recipes, spreads, dips and try cranberry sauce on your favorite fish or poultry.

    If you want an added boost or are simply unable to find fresh cranberries at your local farmers' market, supplement with Cran-Max, a highly concentrated whole berry cranberry ingredient found in a variety of natural supplement products. This particular cranberry ingredient has gone head-to-head against prescription antibiotics for prevention of bladder infections and was found to be equally effective and better tolerated.1,2,3


    Next on my list: pumpkins, which provide beta-carotene, potassium, vitamin C and soluble fiber. Pumpkins also contain trigonelline and nicotinic acid that can help lower blood sugar, inhibit the accumulation of triglycerides in the blood and suppresses the onset of diabetes. Furthermore, pumpkin can help support immune function and prostate health for men.4

    Incorporate pure pumpkin into pies, muffins, cookies, soups, bread, and ravioli. Roasted pumpkin seeds are a great addition to a home-made trail mix or sprinkle them on your oatmeal or breakfast cereal.

    You may also try using pumpkin seed oil. Pumpkin seed oil has been used in salad dressing, ice cream and other food products, and is believed to benefit people at risk of BPH, irritable bowel syndrome, high cholesterol and certain parasitic infestations.

    Walnuts rank No. 1 for the healthiest and highest potency of antioxidants among all other popular nuts including peanuts, pecans, cashews, Brazil nuts and almonds. Walnuts are rich in polyphenols, compounds that can support heart health by lowering levels of blood cholesterol, which?improves blood flow and cools inflammation related to heart disease. Walnuts are wonderful for cheese and cracker boards, pies, stuffing, hummus, breads and dark chocolate fudge.

    If you're in need of a supplement, try English walnut. The nut of the English walnut contains chemicals called fatty acids, which might be useful as part of a cholesterol-lowering diet. It also contains chemicals that can expand blood vessels, possibly improving circulation and the way the heart works.

    If you have a sweet tooth, then you're in luck. My next fall superfood contains various nutrients and enzymes that can help calm everything from a cough to blemishes. Honey has long been known to treat numerous health conditions and boost overall health. This amazing bee-product possesses antibacterial, antifungal, antiseptic, and antioxidant properties - making it one of the most beneficial foods to consume.

    Sticking with the antibacterial benefits of honey, one study published in the journal Microbiology found that "honey prevented a type of streptococcus pyogenes from inhibiting the healing of wounds."5

    Researchers found that only a small amount of honey was needed to kill off the majority of bacterial cells on infected skin of wound sites. More than that, honey could even be utilized to prevent wounds in the first place.

    To make it a part of your fall diet, add honey to Greek yogurt or use it in place of sugar in recipes. Be sure to try a teaspoonful of honey when suffering with a cough or sore throat. For a supplemental choice, try honey lozenges. These are an obvious choice when dealing with a cold, but these are also an excellent source for honey when you're feeling well, and would like to continue in good health.

    Butternut Squash
    Butternut Squash rounds out my list of fall superfoods. Butternut squash grows on a vine, and comes from the gourd family - a cousin of pumpkin. It is low in fat and provides a large dose of dietary fiber. Squash is packed with carotenoids, giving it its tangerine glow. This veggie is nutrient rich providing folic acid, omega 3s, potassium, and magnesium. Additionally, beta carotene, found in squash, has been shown to protect against heart disease as well as help as a deterrent against some cancers.

    Not coincidentally, most of the foods on this list provide dietary fiber. Dietary fiber is found mostly in vegetables, whole grains, fruits and legumes, and is probably best known for its correlation with constipation. However, fiber foods can provide other health benefits as well, such as lowering your risk of diabetes and heart disease and maintaining a healthy diet.

    Fall superfoods provide a cornucopia of delicious options, so dig in now.

    1. Cranberries vs antibiotics to prevent urinary tract infections. A randomized double-blind noninferiority trial in premenopausal women. Archive of Internal Medicine 2001;171(14):1270-8.
    2. A randomized trial to evaluate effectiveness and cost effectiveness of naturopathic cranberry products as prophylaxis against urinary tract infection in women. The Canadian Journal of Urology. 2002;9(3):1558-1562.
    3. Results of a randomized, double-blind study on the prevention of recurrent cystitis with GynDelta® (500 mg Cran-Max®). The Gynecologist’s and Obstetrician’s Journal. January 2007.
    4. Vahlensieck W1, Theurer C, Pfitzer E, Patz B, Banik N, Engelmann U. Effects of pumpkin seed in men with lower urinary tract symptoms due to benign prostatic hyperplasia in the one-year, randomized, placebo-controlled GRANU study. Urol Int. 2015;94(3):286-95. doi: 10.1159/000362903.
    5. Sarah E. Maddocks, Marta Salinas Lopez, Richard S. Rowlands, Rose A. Cooper; Manuka honey inhibits the development of Streptococcus pyogenes biofilms and causes reduced expression of two fibronectin binding proteins. Microbiology, March 2012 158: 781-790, doi: 10.1099/mic.0.053959-0
  • The term “Superfood” was first used in the 1990s when a cookbook that was co-written by Dr. Michael Van Straten, a practitioner of alternative medicine, appeared in the bookshops. It was titled Superfoods and it claimed to provide the reader with information regarding various nutrients to help the body improve resistance against diseases and stress. Since that time, “superfoods” is primarily associated with fruits, vegetables and any other food products that are considered to be healthy for the body.

    As time progressed, however, nutritious Mother Nature made foods that once held the superfood distinction, were overthrown by exotic foods, as if they were the only ones now worthy of the superfoods monarchy. In fact, the superfoods term has been used so frequently by food and product promoters over the past decade, the public now believes that these exotic foods have near-magical qualities to compensate for their high prices.

    Whenever a scientific study provides evidence regarding a positive effect of some chemical property or properties found in a so-called superfood, that superfoods promotional influence is instantly boosted and more companies can jump on the superfood bandwagon.

    This is yet another reason why food promoters are constantly searching for yet undiscovered sources of remarkable nutrients. The public is continuously bombarded with new food products that allegedly can provide all sorts of healthy benefits to the body single-handedly. Over the years, the term “superfood” has retained its appeal to the public but it is now used mainly to create hype about a product to make it more marketable. With all the marketing gimmicks aside, what really constitutes a superfood?

    Up until now, there is no scientifically accepted definition of “superfood.” As mentioned, the term is generally used to refer to foods that are jam-packed with nutrients and can provide health benefits to your body1 Contrary to the marketing claims, there is no food product—no matter how exotic—that can single-handedly provide all of your health needs. Limiting yourself to eating these so-called superfoods can actually result in an impaired, one-sided diet that can do you more harm than good.

    Vitamins and minerals usually work in synergy and thereby need to work with one another in order to be able to provide what the body needs. This is a fact that is usually overlooked by people in their desire to get a one-way ticket to good health. Superfoods also work in synergy, and therefore—in more cases than not—it is wise to consume them as a package, or the whole food.

    Food scientists can easily isolate one or two components of a superfood, and even though those components might look good based on a study or two, nature doesn’t work in isolation. This is why you don’t find a single isolated tocopherol (an isomer of vitamin E) in a food like almonds, but instead an array of mixed tocopherols, all of which work in synergy. Research has even shown that when we consume only one form of vitamin E (alpha tocopherol), it is at the detriment of the other forms, which potentially harms the body.2

    Berry, Berry Good
    The members of the berry kingdom are great examples of superfoods. These edible, fleshy and colorful fruits are full of antioxidants that can actually help in reversing and preventing diseases that are associated with free radicals.3 Free radicals are unstable molecules that react with various body chemicals, causing irreversible damage to our cells.4 As a person grows older, the damage caused by free radicals often worsens, which may speed up the process of aging and contribute to age-related health concerns. Antioxidants can help prevent premature aging by quenching the destructive action of free radicals.5 Berries, especially those with dark color, have one of the highest concentrations of antioxidants—flavonoids and anthocyanidins—found in nature.6

    Anthocyanidins play an important role in memory function and can help decrease the rate of a person’s mental decline. Actually, a study was able to show that age-related cognitive decline reduced by about 1.5 to 2.5 years just by eating berries at least once a week.7 In addition, the same antioxidant can also fight the development of macular degeneration, an eye disorder usually brought about by old age.8

    The risk of cancer and heart diseases, on the other hand, can be reduced by various flavonoids, especially quercetin.9 The immune system already has its own troop of cancer-fighting cells, but a study has shown that quercetin can greatly increase the number of anti-cancer cells in the body.10 It also can regulate cholesterol and blood pressure levels, which are two primary factors for heart disease.11

    Vitamin K
    However, berries are not the only sources of nutrients that can fight heart disease. Green leafy vegetables are a great source of Vitamin K, which can also decrease the risk of cardiovascular diseases. Unbeknownst to many, vitamin K works hand in hand with Vitamin D. Osteocalcin, a protein hormone present in Vitamin K, binds Vitamin D into your bones thus promoting bone health and prevents it from being deposited in your blood vessels.12 Thus, protecting your blood vessels from being clogged and decreasing the risk of heart disease.

    Nature is full of colors. More than just aesthetics, the different colors of natural products can actually give you a clue to the nutrient levels in them. Although some fruits or vegetables may have more nutrients than others, this does not mean that they are the only ones that provide the nutrients that you need. The next time that you eat, make sure that you have a colorful plate in front of you. This is your true and surefire ticket to good health.


    1. MedicineNet. (n.d.). Definition of Superfoods. Retrieved from
    2. Chen H, et al. Mixed tocopherol preparation is superior to alpha-tocopherol alone against hypoxia-reoxygenation injury. Biochem Biophys Res Commun. 2002 Feb 22;291(2):349-53.
    3. Paredes-López O, et al. Berries: improving human health and healthy aging, and promoting quality life. Plant Foods Hum Nutr. 2010 Sep;65(3):299–308. doi: 10.1007/s11130-010-0177-1.
    4. WebMD. (n.d.). Free Radicals. Retrieved from
    5. WebMD. (n.d.) Antioxidants – Topic Overview. Retrieved from
    6. Stibich, Mark. (2014, May 1). Anti-Aging Properties of Berries. Retrieved from
    7. Park, Alice. (2012, April 26). Brain Food: Berries Can Slow Cognitive Decline. Time
    8. Wang JJ, et al. Genetic susceptibility, dietary antioxidants, and long-term incidence of age-related macular degeneration in two populations. Ophthalmology. 2014 Mar;121(3):667–75.
    9. Knekt P, et al. Flavonoid intake and risk of chronic disease. Am J Clin Nutr. 2002 Sep;76(3):560–8.
    10. Brito AF, et al. Quercetin in cancer treatment, alone or in combination with conventional therapeutics? Curr Med Chem. 2015 Aug 12.
    11. Dower JI, et al. Effects of the pure flavonoids epicatechin and quercetin on vascular function and cardiometabolic health: a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled, crossover trial. Am J Clin Nutr. 2015 May;101(5):914-21. doi: 10.3945/ajcn.114.098590. Epub 2015 Feb 25.
    12. Mercola. Without Vitamin K2, Vitamin D May Actually Encourage Heart Disease. (2011, July 16) Retrieved from