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The most basic mission for any healthy eating plan is to incorporate a variety of whole goods into your diet. About one-quarter of your meal can be comprised of fruits, unless your doctor has instructed you otherwise. Here are the healthiest fruits you can find – the ones that provide the greatest health benefits.
First, let’s consider how fruits benefit our health. The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) provides this quick-reference list of five points:
- Eating a diet rich in vegetables and fruits as part of an overall healthy diet may reduce risk for heart disease, including heart attack and stroke.
- Eating a diet rich in some vegetables and fruits as part of an overall healthy diet may protect against certain types of cancers.
- Diets rich in foods containing fiber, such as some vegetables and fruits, may reduce the risk of heart disease, obesity, and type 2 diabetes.
- Eating vegetables and fruits rich in potassium as part of an overall healthy diet may lower blood pressure, and may also reduce the risk of developing kidney stones and help to decrease bone loss.
- Eating foods such as fruits that are lower in calories per cup instead of some other higher-calorie food may be useful in helping [with weight loss].
High Fiber Fruits
One of the best reasons is to eat fruit is to get more fiber in your diet. Benefits of fiber range from lowering cholesterol to normalizing our bowel movements. According to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), Soluble dietary fiber aids in lowering LDL cholesterol levels, which can help control blood sugar levels. Insoluble dietary fibers help move waste through the digestive system without being an added source of calories.
Fiber also is linked to disease prevention. One study found a link between a high fiber diet and a reduction in mortality from cardiovascular disease, coronary heart disease, and all cancers.
The FDA recommends a total dietary fiber intake of 28 grams per day from food (not supplements). This can be easy to reach by adding high-fiber fruits to your diet. For example, one high fiber fruit is passion fruit. With seed and pulp included, a cup of passion fruit provide 24.5 grams of fiber.
AT A GLANCE: BENEFITS OF FRUIT
- Low in sodium and fat
- High in essential dietary fibers (apples, pears)
- A good source of vitamin, including vitamin A (watermelon, grapefruit), vitamin B1 (mangos, raspberries, watermelon), vitamin B6 (bananas, kiwi, grapes), and vitamin C (kiwi, lemon, pineapple)
- A good source of such minerals as potassium (cherries, kiwi), calcium (apricots, dried figs, pineapple), folate (strawberries, melon), and iron (berries, dried fruit, citrus fruit).
Of course, not all fruits are equal when it comes to fiber. Consider the list below; the fiber content of these fruits, per the USDA, is based on a 100-gram serving. Keep in mind you need to consume the skin where appropriate and flesh to get fiber’s full benefits.
Fruits With the Most Antioxidants
Antioxidants help protect the body against the activities of free radicals. In adding antioxidant-rich fruit to your diet, start with prunes and berries. These fruits, all from the berry family, are also rich sources of antioxidants: blueberries, blackberries, strawberries, raspberries, and cranberries. Other antioxidant-rich fruits include grapes, oranges, grapefruit, and mangos.
Berries also contain vitamin C, which boosts your immune system and can help give you healthy, glowing skin. This fruit group also aids digestion.
Healthiest Fruits for Diabetics – Low Glycemic Index Fruits
If you have diabetes, you’re wary of how much sugar is in fruit. As such, you’ll want to consider fruits that are low on the glycemic index (GI).
HOW MUCH FRUIT SHOULD WE EAT?
The American Heart Association recommends at least four servings of fruit per day. The AHA’s recommendation notes that frozen, canned, and dried produce can be as nutritious as fresh, adding: “Compare nutrition info on package labels and choose products with the lowest amounts of added sugars and sodium.” Examples for a four-serving day:
- 1 medium whole fruit
- ½ cup cut-up fruit
- ¼ cup 100% fruit juice
- ¼ cup dried fruit
An item’s GI score indicates the speed at which your blood sugar level is affected after consuming foods containing carbohydrates. The glycemic index of foods are rated 55 or below as low and up to 59 as moderate. A GI of 70 or above is considered high.
- Bananas (small)
Contributing: Lisa Cantkier