“Eat more fruits and vegetables!”
This is perhaps one of the world’s most common health recommendations.
Everyone knows that fruits are healthy because they are real, whole foods. Also, most of them are also very convenient. Some even call them “nature’s fast food” because they are so easy to carry and prepare.
Many fruits have been studied for their health effects and it is clear that their intake is an important factor in maintaining good health in general. Certain fruits, however, certain fruits stand out due to their robust nutrient content and associated benefits. Read on to know more.
Why Eat Fruits?
Lots of Fiber, Vitamins, Minerals and Antioxidants
Of course, fruits are more than just watery bags of fructose.
There are lots of nutrients in them that are important for health. This includes fiber, vitamins and minerals, as well as a plethora of antioxidants and other plant compounds.
Fiber, especially soluble fiber, has many benefits, including reduced cholesterol levels, slowed absorption of carbs and increased satiety. Plus, studies have shown that soluble fiber can help you lose weight (1, 2, 3).
What’s more, fruits tend to be high in several vitamins and minerals that many people don’t get enough of, including vitamin C, potassium and folate.
Of course, “fruit” is an entire food group. There are thousands of different edible fruits found in nature, and their nutrient compositions can vary greatly.
So, if you want to maximize fruits’ health effects, focus on ones that are rich in nutrients. Try fruits with more skin.
The skin of fruits is usually very rich in antioxidants and fiber. This is the reason that berries, which have greater amounts of skin, gram for gram, are often considered healthier than larger fruits.
It is also a good idea to switch things up and eat a variety of fruits because different fruits contain different nutrients.
Help You Lose Weight
It’s often forgotten that fruits are incredibly filling.
Because of their fiber and water contents and the extensive chewing involved in eating them, fruits are very satiating.
The satiety index is a measure of how much different foods contribute to feelings of fullness.
Fruits like apples and oranges are among the highest scoring foods tested, even more filling than beef and eggs (4).
This means that if you increase your intake of apples or oranges, you will likely feel so full that you will automatically eat less of other foods.
There is also one interesting study that demonstrates how fruits can contribute to weight loss (5).
In this six-month study, nine men ate a diet consisting only of fruits (82% of calories) and nuts (18% of calories).
Not surprisingly, these men lost significant amounts of weight. Those who were overweight lost even more than those who were at a healthy weight.
Overall, given the strong effects that fruits can have on satiety, it seems beneficial to replace other foods, especially junk foods, with fruit to help you lose weight over the long term.
Contain the Right Amount of Fructose
Eating whole fruit, it is almost impossible to consume enough fructose to cause harm.
Fruits are loaded with fiber, water and have significant chewing resistance.
For this reason, most fruits take a while to eat and digest, meaning that the fructose hits the liver slowly.
When fructose hits your liver fast and in large amounts, as is the case when you drink soda, it can have adverse health effects over time.
However, when it hits your liver slowly and in small amounts, as is the case when you eat a fruit, your body is well adapted to easily metabolize the fructose.
While eating large amounts of added sugar is harmful to most people, the same does not apply to fruit.
Show Other Health Benefits
Multiple observational studies have shown that people who eat more fruits and vegetables have a lower risk of various diseases.
Many of the studies pool together fruits and vegetables, while some only look at fruits.
One review of nine studies found that each daily portion of fruit consumed reduced the risk of heart disease by 7% (6).
Also, a study including 9,665 US adults found that a high fruit and vegetable intake was associated with a 46% lower risk of diabetes in women, but there was no difference in men (7).
Furthermore, one study that looked at fruits and vegetables separately found that vegetables were associated with a reduced risk of breast cancer, but this didn’t apply to fruit (8).
Another study showed that eating fruits and vegetables is associated with a lower risk of heart attack and stroke — the two leading causes of death in Western countries (9).
One study looked at how different types of fruit affect the risk of type 2 diabetes. Those who consumed the most grapes, apples and blueberries had the lowest risk, with blueberries having the strongest effect (10).
However, one problem with observational studies is that they cannot prove that the associations they detect are direct causal relationships.
People who eat the most fruit tend to be more health conscious, less likely to smoke and more likely to exercise.
That said, a few randomized controlled trials (real human experiments) have shown that increased fruit intake can lower blood pressure, reduce oxidative stress and improve glycemic control in diabetics (11, 12).
Overall, it seems clear from the data that fruits have significant health benefits.
25 Fruits that Should Be In Your Diet
1. Acai Berries
Açaí actually deserves some of the hype it gets, thanks to weapons grade antioxidant levels that clobber other Superfruit rivals like blackberries, strawberries, and blueberries. However, because this tiny berry hails from Brazil, it’s not easy to find fresh. Many experts recommend powdered açaí berry, which can be added into a smoothie. Not only is this an easy way to get super fruits into your diet, but it also helps mask the tart, sometimes bitter taste.
America’s favorite fruit is a secret super fruit! Thanks in part to its red or green color. Apples are a great fiber source, but the skin contains quercetin, an antioxidant that packs antihistamine and anti-inflammatory power, and therefore may help protect you from heart disease and possibly allergic reactions. A study from St. George’s Hospital Medical School in London found that people who eat five or more apples a week have better lung function than those who don’t. So slip an apple into your lunch bag today.
In addition to their pleasing taste, plums offer a high concentration of vitamins, minerals, and health-protective plant compounds (13).
They’re particularly rich in hydroxycinnamic acids, which are a type of polyphenol antioxidant. By reducing cellular damage caused by unstable molecules called free radicals, antioxidants may reduce your risk of various diseases (14).
Peaches are often enjoyed in jams and pies, but it’s best to eat peaches raw.
That’s because fresh peach peels and pulp have higher antioxidant and anti-inflammatory activity than cooked peach products (17).
In addition to phytonutrients like phenolic acids and carotenoids, peaches provide a good source of fiber, vitamin C, provitamin A, and potassium.
Ever grab a snack but then feel hungry again 20 minutes later? Next time, reach for a banana. This super fruit is loaded with potassium, which can lower your blood pressure, and is one of the best sources of resistant starch, a healthy carb that fills you up and helps to boost your metabolism.
Avocados are not only creamy and delicious but also packed with nutrients like fiber, healthy fats, potassium, magnesium, folate, and vitamins C and K1.
Consider cantaloupe your secret weapon for smooth, younger-looking skin. It gets its super fruit status thanks to Vitamin A and its derivatives, which boosts cell reproduction, making it a natural exfoliator.
Thanks to their high concentration of vitamin C and polyphenol antioxidants, cherries have powerful anti-inflammatory properties (20).
Both sweet and tart cherries as well as their juice and powder are associated with many health benefits.
For example, a review of 29 studies found that consuming these foods led to reductions in markers of oxidative stress and inflammation, as well as decreased blood pressure, VLDL cholesterol, and HbA1c — a marker of long-term blood sugar control (20).
These tart little berries are healthiest for women. They may prevent urinary-tract infections, and might help fight a far scarier disease, ovarian cancer. According to a new Rutgers University study, cranberries can boost the effectiveness of chemotherapy drugs used to fight ovarian cancer and may slow the growth of some cancer cells. Another study found that people who drink a glass of unsweetened cranberry juice each day raise their HDL, or good cholesterol, by 10%.
10. Dragon Fruit
The name and vibrant color of this fruit’s skin tell you that it’s something special, even though the taste is actually quite mild. Four years ago, researchers from Malaysia’s Universiti Putra analyzed the seeds and found there to be a bounty of essential fatty acids, which we need but can’t be made by our body. In fact, 50% of the seeds were made up of an essential fatty acid, oleic acid, which helps lower bad cholesterol and raise good cholesterol. While this fruit is grown mainly in Asia, you might be able to find one at your local Chinatown or farmer’s market.
Despite their small size, grapes pack a serious nutritional punch. Many varieties exist, and while all make a healthy choice, some are higher in antioxidants than others.
In a recent study comparing 30 grape varieties, Black Pearl, Summer Royal Black, Pearl Green, Seedless Green, and Seedless Red grapes exhibited the strongest antioxidant and free-radical-scavenging activities (21).
These varieties were found to be packed with antioxidants like caffeic acid, epicatechin, catechin gallate, protocatechuic acid, gallic acid, and rutin (21).
Indeed, these antioxidants may be the reason why these tasty fruits are associated with a reduced risk of heart disease and certain cancers (22).
If you’ve got digestive gripes, then kiwi is your fruit. In one study, 41 people who had irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) consumed two kiwis a day for six weeks and reported a reduction of symptoms compared to those who didn’t. Kiwi, especially the skin, is high in fiber and prebiotic complex carbohydrates.
If you manage to eat just one medium orange, then you’ll already have your recommended daily intake of vitamin C, which keeps your immune system humming. This familiar sweet fruit is also a great source of fiber, potassium, calcium, folate, and other B vitamins, so take one with your everywhere you go.
Many studies tie pomegranates to a variety of health benefits. These fruits boast compounds like ellagitannins, anthocyanins, and organic acids, which give pomegranates potent antioxidant activity (23).
Human research reveals that pomegranate juice and extracts may help reduce oxidative stress, blood pressure, LDL (bad) cholesterol, triglycerides, inflammation, and muscle damage. Animal and test-tube studies suggest anticancer properties as well (24, 25).
The tomato pretty much tops our list of super fruits even though some people still think it’s a vegetable. Tomatoes pack a sought-after antioxidant called lycopene, which is rarely found in other fruits, and they’re high in vitamin C, potassium, and fiber, and super-low in calories.
Summer colds are the worst, so have some papaya! This tropical fruit is bursting with vitamin C! Just one cup gives you more than you need each day. On top of this, papaya is also a good source of vitamins A and E, two powerful antioxidants that may help protect against heart disease and colon cancer.
They’re native to China, where they’ve been used as a natural treatment for coughs, colds, and inflammatory conditions for centuries (28).
Mangos are a popular tropical fruit full of antioxidants, including gallic acid, quercetin, and ellagic acid, as well as the carotenoids lutein, alpha carotene, and beta carotene, which give the fruit its yellowish hue (29).
Mangos are also rich in fiber and may help promote healthy bowel movements.
In a 4-week study in 36 people with chronic constipation, eating 10.5 ounces or 300 grams of mangoes daily significantly improved stool frequency and consistency and reduced markers of intestinal inflammation, compared with an equivalent dose of a fiber supplement (30).
19. Pumpkin and Its Seeds
Yes pumpkin is actually a fruit! This squash is overflowing with beta-carotene, which combined with potassium may help to prevent high blood pressure. If making homemade pumpkin pie is too much trouble, try tossing the seeds into salads, soups, etc.
Watermelon is a hydrating fruit that’s loaded with fiber, vitamin C, provitamin A, and many antioxidants. Animal studies demonstrate that it has powerful anti-inflammatory, brain-protective, and liver-supportive properties (31).
What’s more, watermelon is the richest food source of the amino acid l-citrulline. L-citrulline is needed for the synthesis of nitric oxide, a molecule that’s essential for blood vessel dilation and other bodily functions (32).
Not only does pineapple add juicy sweetness to your meals but it also contains bromelain, a digestive enzyme that helps break down food to reduce bloating.
Fiber is not something that these berries are lacking; just half a cup would give you 4 grams. You’d also get 25% of your recommended intake for vitamin C and manganese too!
These tart and tasty gems rank in the top 10 for antioxidant power, according to the USDA, and they are specifically rich in polyphenols, the same family of antioxidants found in green tea, which may help prevent cardiovascular disease, cancers, and osteoporosis. Blackberries are also number one for fiber: One cup delivers one-third of your daily target of 25 to 35 grams a day.
24. Citrus Fruits
All citrus, from limes to tangerines, are chock-full of vitamin C, fiber, and small amounts of other nutrients and disease-fighting chemicals. It’s the C that makes citrus a super fruit, because this vitamin counters the effects of sun damage, regulates oils glands, and can even prevent age spots.
Nectarines are high in vitamin C, beta carotene, and numerous other antioxidant compounds (35).
Consuming beta-carotene-rich fruits like nectarines may help reduce disease risk and early death. One review of studies in over 174,000 people associated beta carotene intake with a significantly reduced risk of death from all causes (36).
Fruits come in all shapes and sizes, and different fruits have different health benefits. For the best results, add a variety of fruits to the diet!
By eating fruit, a person is providing their body with key vitamins, antioxidants, and dietary fiber. This can have significant benefits for heart health, digestion, weight management, and skin health.
People can enjoy a wide variety of fruits to improve their health and lower the risk of inflammation, heart disease, cancer, obesity, and diabetes.