The benefits of fruit

There’s a new group of superfruits set to amp up our health. Karen Fittall looks at three of these nutritional powerhouses.

Lychee

Native to China, lychees keep proving their worth as a fruity superstar that may help fight the visceral fat which increases heart disease and diabetes risk, as well as going on the attack against breast cancer cells. A French study also revealed that, compared to 24 common fruits, lychees contain polyphenols (chemicals that act as antioxidants), at levels second only to strawberries. Choose firm, ripe fruit – look for red not green skin – that’s free of decay at the stem.

Passionfruit

While researchers have previously proven passionfruit’s anti-cancer effect, Japanese scientists say a compound called piceatannol, found in large quantities in passionfruit seeds, promotes the collagen synthesis that’s crucial for healthy skin. Earlier this year, piceatannol was also lauded for its potential to promote weight loss by interfering with fat-cell development. To get more seeds for your buck, choose fruit that feels heavy in your hand and where the skin is free of blemishes and excessive wrinkling.

Mango

This fruit has been shown to have a positive effect on cholesterol, with recent research revealing how mangoes might also be of use in the battle against obesity. Separate teams of scientists from the US and Queensland say both the flesh and the skin of certain mango varieties play a role, inhibiting fat cell development and affecting how fat is metabolised by the body. Mangoes will ripen at room temperature, but should be wrapped and stored in the fridge once ripe.