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The most basic mission for any healthy eating plan, experts often say, is to incorporate into your diet a variety of foods taken from nature. And fruit certainly makes the cut. If you don’t have diabetes or blood sugar problems, about one-quarter of your meal can be comprised of fruits. Here, we direct you toward the healthiest fruits you can find.
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].
Healthiest Fruits for Fiber
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. Fiber also is linked to disease prevention.
The American Heart Association suggests your total dietary fiber intake should be at least 25 to 30 grams per day from food (not supplements). That amount of fiber can be difficult to achieve. One example of a rich source of fiber: passion fruit. With seeds and pulp included, a cup of passion fruit provides 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 MyFoodData.com, is based on a 100-gram serving. Keep in mind you need to consume the skin where appropriate (we don’t suggest you eat banana peel) and flesh to get fiber’s full benefits.
- Strawberries, 2 grams
- Apples, 2.4 grams
- Raspberries, 6.5 grams
- Kiwi, 3 grams
- Figs, 2.9 grams
- Bananas, 2.6 grams
- Apricots, 2 grams
- Papaya, 1.7 grams
- Mango, 1.6 grams
- Cantaloupe, 0.9 grams
Healthiest Fruits for Antioxidants
Antioxidants are “shields” against 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 aid in digestion.
Healthiest Fruits for Diabetics
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 carbohydrate. The American Diabetes Association rates 55 or below as low and up to 59 as moderate. A GI of 70 or above is considered high.
Here’s a list of fruits on the lower side of the GI score, according to MedicalNewsToday.com:
Bananas can be consumed if they’re medium to small in size.
SOURCES & RESOURCES
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Contributing: Lisa Cantkier