All fruits are good for you, but are they all equally good? Not quite, says Paul A. Lachance, Ph.D., professor of nutrition and food science at Rutgers University in New Brunswick, New Jersey. Some tropical fruits, in particular, are clear nutritional winners. Lachance analyzed 31 popular fruits for eight vitamins and minerals—vitamin A, thiamin, riboflavin, niacin, folate, vitamin C, calcium and iron.
The winner? Guava by a mile, due to its extremely high vitamin C content, followed in a near-tie by the more nutritionally well-rounded kiwi and papaya.
But while the fruits here are tops in traditional nutrients, don’t think other fruits are worthless. Lachance’s calculations didn’t account for many important food constituents, like fiber, potassium and phytochemicals—those hard-to-measure compounds that researchers believe go a long way toward warding off disease and optimizing health. For example, raspberries and pears are full of fiber; apricots and bananas practically ooze potassium; and apples are flavonoid-rich.
Bottom line? The key to good eating is still variety, and that holds true for fruit as well. So go ahead and add guava, kiwi and papaya to your shopping basket for a nutrition boost. But still aim for the whole fruit salad—raspberries apples, pears and all.
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