One of the most noticeable trends over the past few years is the increasing popularity of functional nutrition. As superfoods slowly edge their way into the mainstream, people are dosing up on omega-3s by eating oily fish and linseed bread, throwing fibre and mineral rich chia into smoothies, and brewing up unprecedented amounts of thermogenic green tea to lose weight.
The sort of health supplements that look like they're made in a lab are losing ground against those that once grew in it, and people are increasingly on the look out for natural ways to improve performance and manage medical conditions.
While the natural nutrition trend may have vindicated the lifestyle choices of people who have been juicing kale since Woodstock ended, the biggest winners out of this superfood movement are the berries.
No longer relegated to topping pavlovas, feeding silkworms, or languishing undiscovered in the Amazon, berries are everywhere. Blueberries are improving heart health, goji berries are warding off oxidative damage, raspberries are helping people lose weight, and mulberries have joined the fight against diabetes. The best bit of all is that they're delicious!
The newest berry on the block is called the Sea Buckthorn berry, and it has been touted for its ability to promote weight loss and cardiovascular health.
A group of English scientists decided to examine the latter claim, and have painstakingly analysed the research that has been done into this antioxidant rich fruit's cardioprotective properties.
The group identified a number of beneficial compounds in the Sea Buckthorn including vitamins, antioxidants like polyphenols and carotenoids, and a rare omega-7 fatty acid, which is popularly thought to confer the weight loss effects this berry is said to possess.
Factors taken into consideration in this study were indicative of cardiovascular health, and broad in scope. These included lipid metabolism, inflammation, and coagulation.
A positive association was found between Sea Buckthorn consumption and good cardiovascular health, however the researchers pointed out that this newly discovered fruit does need more research before it joins the veritable fruit salad that has passed scientific muster before it.
Cardiovascular health is an important concern for strength athletes, who often neglect cardio workouts in favour of resistance training and may have diets high in saturated fats.
It will be interesting to see the results of further study into this intriguing new berry. In the meantime, there are plenty of other healthy options to put in your smoothie.
Sayegh M, Miglio C, Ray S. Potential cardiovascular implications of Sea Buckthorn berry consumption in humans. Int J Food Sci Nutr. 2014 Feb 4.