The 'new cranberry' is three times as rich in antioxidants as red wine or green tea. It contains high levels of vitamin C, vitamin E and folic acid, all of which help to neutralise 'free radicals' - destructive molecules produced by the body which can also be generated by poor diet, pollution and smoking. These 'molecular sharks' are implicated in cardiovascular disease, cancer and premature ageing.
Pomegranate has also shown promise in lowering blood pressure, preventing prostate and other cancers, protecting newborn babies from brain damage, reducing menopausal symptoms and boosting male sexual performance.
Pomegranate's antioxidants appear to be more potent than those in other fruits. They inhibit the oxidation of 'bad' (LDL) cholesterol - the first stage in the build-up of plaque which causes hardening of the arteries, heart attacks and strokes. Nitric oxide, essential for healthy blood vessels, is broken down and rendered useless by free radicals called 'super oxides'. By 'scavenging' super oxides, the antioxidants in pomegranate ensure there is sufficient nitric oxide to go round. Pomegranate contains antioxidants called polyphenols, which soak up free radicals. It is also rich in tannins and punicalagin (also antioxidants).
Finally, it contains ellagic acid - a substance that inhibits apoptosis, or programmed cell death, where a cell goes into a genetic programme to effectively commit suicide.
A thick-skinned purple berry that is taking the US by storm, açaí was discovered by two friends on holiday in Brazil and marketed as the drink Sambazon. This year, the company doubled its revenue to $2.5m (£1.5m). In 2004, the anti-ageing guru Dr Nicholas Perricone declared açaí the number-one superfruit in the world. Rich in vitamins A and C it contains twice as many antioxidants as blueberries.
Rich in polyphenols, aronia has some properties linked to the prevention of cancer.
High in vitamins C and E, and anthocyanins, blueberries were ranked top for antioxidant activity among 40 fruit and veg by scientists at Tufts University, Boston. They sprang to prominence when scientists reported that they could be as effective as drugs in lowering cholesterol.
Broccoli and super broccoli
The green cruciform vegetable is rich in beta-carotene, folate and potassium plus vitamin C and other antioxidants, as well as containing two chemicals - sulforaphane and indoles - known to prevent cancer. One variety, known as 'super broccoli', contains 3.4 times more sulforaphane than standard types. Developed by traditional breeding methods, it should be available commercially in three years' time. Last week, scientists at the Institute of Food Research in Norwich reported that 'super broccoli' is especially beneficial to the 50 per cent of the population who lack a GSTM1 gene, meaning they excrete sulforaphane before it has had a positive effect. By eating this enriched version, or larger portions of ordinary broccoli, they can protect themselves against cancer as well as people who do have the gene.
Cranberries are rich in polyphenols and antioxidants. The fruit's antibacterial properties fixed it in the mind as a treatment for urinary infections.
An enduring wonder drink, it has powerful antioxidants - catechins - said to fight viruses, slow ageing and benefit health by destroying free radicals. Epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG), another antioxidant, is 100 times more effective than vitamin C and 25 times more than vitamin E at protecting cells and DNA from damage. EGCG has twice the benefits of resveratrol, found in red wine.
Nominated by Fiona Posell, vice-president of corporate communications at POM Wonderful, the noni berry - from the morinda citrifolia tree, found mainly in Tahiti - produces a reddish-brown juice with a distinctive smell and taste. Says Posell: 'It may pack more antioxidants, but if you want to drink eight ounces of noni juice, you have to be a very brave person.' (NB not if you get the correct brand)
Red wine contains just about every antioxidant and can reduce the chances of heart disease.
Watermelon is rich in lycopene - an antioxidant that neutralises free radicals and may prevent prostate cancer.