Is all fruit healthy?
Yes. Studies show fruit has a wide variety of health benefits – from reducing the risk of heart disease and helping with weight management to lowering the risk of depression.
Some of the things that make fruits healthy include:
· Low salt content
· No harmful fats or added sugars
· High-fiber content
· Prebiotics and essential nutrients the body needs
And the experts agree, too. The FDA updated their definition of “healthy” and focused on nutrient-rich foods. Under their definition, all whole fruits qualify as healthy.
Is the sugar in fruit good for you?
The sugar in fruit is not unhealthy like added sugars. Fruits contain natural sugar that come in the form of fructose and/or glucose. These natural sugars are different from the artificial sugars that are added to processed foods.
Natural sugars do not cause your blood sugar to spike as rapidly as artificial sugars. And fruits contain fiber, which slows digestion and also helps the body process the sugar in a healthy way.
What makes certain fruits ‘healthier’ than others?
Even though all fruits are healthy, some may have more health benefits than others. But, depending on your specific health goals, there are many ways to look at what makes a fruit “healthy.”
Here are some ways to define the healthiest fruits:
· Nutrient density: This refers to how many nutrients (especially vitamins and minerals) a fruit contains. Citrus fruits, for example, are especially rich in vitamin C.
· Glycemic index: This measures how quickly a food increases your blood sugar. This is most relevant for people with diabetes or people with higher risk for diabetes who may want to reach for fruits with a low glycemic index.
· Calories: While fruits are generally a low-calorie food, some have more calories than others. This might be helpful to consider for people who are trying to lose or gain weight.
· Specific nutrients: Researchers are learning more and more about the unique nutrients of different fruits and how those nutrients provide specific health benefits. For example, blueberries contain anthocyanins, which have anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties.
Top 7 healthiest fruits and their benefits
Since all fruits provide a variety of health benefits, there may not be a clear winner in the category of “best fruit.” And some of the fruits with the most reported health benefits may simply be the most studied.
So, if you’re looking for fruits that have stood up to the rigors of science, here are the top seven contenders:
1. Lemons: In a 2014 study looking at the most nutrient-dense fruit, lemons came out on top with 17 nutrients. So you can feel good about a squeeze of lemon or lemon zest on your food.
2. Blueberries: Blueberries contain anthocyanins, which are the special pigments that give them their rich color. They also have anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties. Studies show that blueberries reduce the chance of heart disease, diabetes, obesity, high blood pressure, and depression. They may also help protect your brain from the effects of aging.
3. Apples: It turns out that an apple a day really can help keep the doctor away. Apples are another “super fruit” with wide-ranging health effects. This includes a protective effect against cancer, Alzheimer’s disease, and asthma.
4. Oranges: One orange provides the recommended daily amount of vitamin C. But that’s not all. Citrus fruits, including oranges, contain flavanones. These can help improve cognitive performance and keep the heart healthy.
5. Cherries: Like blueberries, cherries contain anthocyanin. Studies show that their antioxidant powers have health benefits, including a lower risk of depression.
6. Pomegranates: Their tiny seeds pack a big punch. Studies show that pomegranates reduce the risk of diabetes and high blood pressure, among other benefits.
7. Grapefruits: Grapefruit is a powerhouse because it’s a fruit with a low glycemic index and low calories. And it’s packed with furanocoumarins a compound that fights cancer and promotes bone health.
Even though these fruits have proven health benefits, the best fruits for you may be based on your individual health goals.
Which fruits are best for people with diabetes?
People with diabetes may benefit from fruits that are lowest on the glycemic index. Those include:
Which fruits are best for weight loss?
Some people who are focused on weight loss prefer to eat fruit that helps them feel full while reducing calorie intake. Examples of low-calorie fruits include:
Which fruit should not be eaten with medication?
If you’re taking medication, you should ask your healthcare provider about possible interactions with food. In particular, grapefruit (and grapefruit juice) is known to interact with multiple types of medication.
How does nutritional value change between forms of fruit?
Many people think fresh is best. But there are a lot of ways to get the health benefits from fruit:
· Frozen fruit has all the same benefits as fresh fruit. In some cases, it may even preserve the nutrients better than fresh fruit.
· Canned and preserved fruit has the same nutritional value as well. Just be sure to avoid ones with added sugar.
· Freeze-dried fruit loses some of the water-soluble nutrients. But it keeps about 90$ of nutrients.
· Dried (dehydrated) fruit also keeps most of the nutrients. But watch out for added sugars — especially in fruit like cranberries, mangos, and pineapples.
· Fruit juice: Most of the fiber is lost in juice, so you’ll be missing out on those digestive benefits. But, if you stick with 100% fruit juice, you’ll still get a good amount of nutrition.
The bottom line
Researchers are still uncovering all of the ways fruit can keep you healthy. From cancer prevention to heart health, studies show fruits have wide-reaching benefits. They may even help keep you healthier as you age. And since you can get the same health benefits from fresh, frozen, dried, or canned fruit, it’s easier than ever to find ways to enjoy those sweet bursts of healthy flavor.