Growing up, fruit was my biggest food group. Until I learned about the importance of variety and moderation, I ate more than my share of fruit every day. Mostly, I was an apple-addict! In school, I learned that fruits are healthy and you’re supposed to eat at least three servings each day, but I never knew just how important they are.
Diets rich in fruits (and vegetables) reduce the risk for heart disease, obesity, type 2 diabetes, and can protect against certain cancers. Fruits have no cholesterol and most of them are low in fat, sodium, and calories (USDA).
It’s easy to think that if you need a certain amount of fruit servings, that any kind will suffice. What’s interesting is that each kind offers unique benefits and micronutrients. Sure, all fruits are great sources of vitamins, minerals, fiber, antioxidants, and phytochemicals (which fight free radicals), but some fruits are actually better for you than others! So what fruits pack the most benefits?
Berries! These little, highly-pigmented all-star fruits contain the second highest-amount of antioxidants, only to herbs and spices food category. These fruits can potentially protect against cancer and have the ability to boost the immune system and lower the risk for cardiovascular disease. Berries are known to be the best fruits for diabetics, as they are super low in sugar and high in fiber, which can improve insulin sensitivity (Greger).
Other amazing fruits include citrus fruits, like oranges, lemons, and grapefruits, which contain flavonoids and Vitamin C that are antioxidants and can neutralize free radicals and are high in folate and thiamin. Trendy fruits like avocado and pomegranate offer great benefits too. Avocado contains an abundance of potassium, fiber, and healthy fats that lower bad cholesterol (LDL) and raise good cholesterol (HDL). Pomegranates are packed with antioxidants and Vitamin C & E, and they have been found to stop growth of cancer cells, protect memory, improve digestion, slow plaque buildup in arteries, and enhance fitness performance by reducing soreness and improving recovery (Ferreira). Don’t forget about my favorite apples too! These fleshy fruits contain high amounts of vitamins, fiber, potassium, and they can increase bone density and good gut bacteria.
According to the USDA, adult men should have two cups of fruit and adult women should have one and half to two cups every day. Of course, this depends on activity levels. Keep in mind that fruit comes in many forms, such as whole, juiced, frozen, canned, dried, cooked and pureed. The best form to eat is whole, unprocessed fruit because it has no added sugars, hasn’t lost fiber, and has low-calorie density and high volume, so you can eat more and feel fuller on less calories (USDA).
So, eat your fruit (in moderation)! All fruits are healthy and some are even healthier. Even though I eat a much more balanced diet these days, I still eat my share of apples, and now I know just how healthy they are for me.
1. Ferreira, Mandy and Natalie Butler R.D. “Fifteen Health Benefits of Pomegranates” Medical News Today. Retrieved from https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/318385.php
2. Greger M.D., Michael “NutritionFacts.org” Retrieved from https://nutritionfacts.org/topics/fruit/
3. USDA “Fruit: Nutrients and Health Benefits” Retrieved from https://www.choosemyplate.gov/fruits-nutrients-health