How to eat it: In a salad. Think of purslane as a great alternative or addition to lettuce: The leaves and stems are crisp, chewy, and succulent, and they have a mild lemony taste. Look for it at your local farmer's market, or Chinese or Mexican market. It's also available at some Whole Foods stores, as an individual leafy green or in premade salad mixes.
A popular drink for decades in the Middle East, pomegranate juice has become widely available only recently in the United States.
Why it's healthy: Israeli scientists discovered that men who downed just 2 ounces of pomegranate juice daily for a year decreased their systolic (top number) blood pressure by 21 percent and significantly improved bloodflow to their hearts. What's more, 4 ounces provides 50 percent of your daily vitamin C needs.
How to drink it: Try 100 percent pomegranate juice from Pom Wonderful. It contains no added sugars, and because it's so powerful, a small glassful is all you need. (For a list of retailers, go to www.pomwonderful.com.)
These raisin-size fruits are chewy and taste like a cross between a cranberry and a cherry. More important, these potent berries have been used as a medicinal food in Tibet for over 1,700 years.
Why they're healthy: Goji berries have one of the highest ORAC ratings -- a method of gauging antioxidant power -- of any fruit, according to Tufts University researchers. And although modern scientists began to study this ancient berry only recently, they've found that the sugars that make goji berries sweet reduce insulin resistance -- a risk factor of diabetes -- in rats.
How to eat them: Mix dried or fresh goji berries with a cup of plain yogurt, sprinkle them on your oatmeal or cold cereal, or enjoy a handful by themselves. You can find them at specialty supermarkets or at gojiberries.us.
You may know these better by the moniker "prunes," which are indelibly linked with nursing homes and bathroom habits. And that explains why, in an effort to revive this delicious fruit's image, producers now market them under another name.
Why they're healthy: Prunes contain high amounts of neochlorogenic and chlorogenic acids, antioxidants that are particularly effective at combating the "superoxide anion radical." This nasty free radical causes structural damage to your cells, and such damage is thought to be one of the primary causes of cancer.
How to eat them: As an appetizer. Wrap a paper-thin slice of prosciutto around each dried plum and secure with a toothpick. Bake in a 400°F oven for 10 to 15 minutes, until the plums are soft and the prosciutto is crispy. Most of the fat will cook off, and you'll be left with a decadent-tasting treat that's sweet, savory, and healthy.
These jack-o'-lantern waste products are the most nutritious part of the pumpkin.
Why they're healthy: Downing pumpkin seeds is the easiest way to consume more magnesium. That's important because French researchers recently determined that men with the highest levels of magnesium in their blood have a 40 percent lower risk of early death than those with the lowest levels. And on average, men consume 353 mg of the mineral daily, well under the 420 mg minimum recommended by the USDA.