Australian superfruits next for star status?

According to a study by Food Science Australia, some native fruits have 'exceptional' levels of antioxidants. Dr Isabel Konczak, the lead researcher at Food Science Australia, a collaboration between the Victorian Government and the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO), said there were about 12 indigenous fruits that had raised antioxidant levels.

A plum grown in New South Wales and Queensland was "times stronger in antioxidant activity than our sample of blueberry," Dr Konczak said.

Another antioxidant-laden fruit is muntry, which has a spicy apple flavour.

The fact many Australian fruits are able to withstand extreme arid conditions is seen as a reason for their nutritional bounty, as they store extra nutrients to survive droughts.

"Plant cells exposed to stress produce antioxidants, produce compounds which will help the cell to survive," she said. "Those compounds are good for the plant's health and fortunately, they are also good for us."

Australian Native Food Industry Limited chairman, Andrew Fielke told ABC radio the research on antioxidants would stir interest in bush tucker, particularly from overseas. He called for more scientific study to bring 'bush tucker' to the mainstream. "There is a huge lack of awareness or understanding about the native food ingredients and what to do with them," he said. "To get them fully recognised internationally as legitimate foods, there has to be more work done on establishing the toxicology and all those health benefits. We are discovering something which already exists here and finding new value of those foods."

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