In the eighteenth century, seasoned sailors found that by sucking on lemons they could avoid scurvy, a debilitating disease that often developed during long voyages when fresh fruits and vegetables were scarce. When the lemon’s key nutrient was formally identified in 1928, it was named ascorbic acid for its anti-scurvy, or antiscorbutic, action. Today ascorbic acid is widely known as vitamin C.
Quercetin may be a major reason why eating an apple a day has been associated with good health. Quercetin, primarily found in apples and onions, is a type of flavonoid (plant pigment) and serves as a building block for other members of the flavonoid family.
Heralded for its heart-healthy actions, fish oils offer high concentrations of polyunsaturated fats called omega-3-fatty acids. While all fish contain these fats, cold-water fish–salmon, sea bass, tuna, trout, mackerel–are particularly rich sources because of their diet: plankton packed with omega-3s. Interestingly, the colder the water, the more omega-3s in the plankton. Cold-water fish also boast the most potent forms of omega-3s: the essential fatty acids known as eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexanoic acid (DHA). Consumed as part of a fish-filled diet or in supplement form, omega-3s have myriad healing powers.
Consuming plentiful amounts of cherries–or a cherry extract made from the juicy, red-blue summer berries that grow on Prunus trees–can provide remarkable health benefits, ranging from fighting inflammation to preventing gout, a painful joint condition. This is because the cherries most of us love to eat–including both the sweet and tart varieties–are rich in potent antioxidants called flavonoids that have various therapeutic effects on the body.
Bromelain is the name of a group of powerful protein-digesting, or proteolytic, enzymes that are found in the pineapple plant (Ananas comosus). Discovered in 1957, and widely studied since then, bromelain is particularly useful for reducing muscle and tissue inflammation and as a digestive aid. Supplements are made from enzymes found in the pineapple stem.