Seven fruits to add to your diet
Fruits may help reduce the risk of certain diseases and cancers
Does an apple a day really keep the doctor away? It’s an old adage that literally has been studied by medical researchers. While findings have produced different results, it is a fact that apples contain many beneficial vitamins, minerals and nutrients that keep you healthy.
Apples, combined with other healthy fruits and vegetables, are important to any diet.
“Fruits in general are packed with vitamins and minerals and other nutrients that can help prevent some diseases and keep the body healthy,” says Courtnee Cootey, dietitian intern at St. Joseph’s Hospital.
While fruits are full of vitamins and minerals, they also are low in fat, sodium and calories. Fruits also are the source of many essential nutrients that are often under consumed, such as potassium, dietary fiber, vitamin C and folate.
Eating plenty of fruits, as well as vegetables, may help reduce the risk of diseases, such as heart disease and high blood pressure, and some cancers. Fruits also are rich in vitamins and minerals that help you feel healthy and energized.
The current dietary guidelines recommend children ages 2 to 6 years old aim for at least two servings of fruit a day. Older children, teen girls, women and most men need at least three servings a day, while it’s recommended teen boys and active men get four servings of fruit a day.
Serving examples can include:
- 1 medium apple, banana or orange
- ½ cup of chopped or cooked fruit
- 1 cup of 100 percent fruit juice (watch the amount of sugar in juices)
- ½ cup of dried fruit, such as apricots or raisins
“All fruits have their own benefits. No one fruit is better than another,” Cootey says. “It’s important to eat a variety of fruits as they contain different nutrients that benefit the body.”
Let’s take a look at seven commonly available fruits that you can incorporate into your daily diet:
Apples contain a flavonoid called fisetin that can help slow the aging process. Eating apples also have been shown to reduce the risk of stroke and diabetes and can help lower LDL (or bad) cholesterol.
Apples also contain vitamin C, which can help boost the body’s immune system, and vitamin B, which helps maintain red blood cells and the nervous system. Additionally, apples are a good source of fiber, and diets high in fiber can help prevent some diseases and keep blood cholesterol from rising.
Berries, such as strawberries, blueberries and raspberries, contain polyphenols that are heart healthy and can help decrease blood pressure. Berries also are loaded with antioxidants that can help fight inflammation. For those with diabetes or concerned about diabetes, berries may help improve blood sugar and insulin response.
Citrus fruits, such as oranges and grapefruits, contain vitamin C, which can help shorten the severity and duration of a cold. They also have a high water content that can help keep you hydrated. Citrus fruits also contain folate, which can help prevent birth defects.
Citrus fruits also have good amounts of other vitamins and minerals that your body needs to function such as B vitamins, potassium, phosphorous, magnesium and copper.
Red grapes contain a polyphenol called resveratrol that can help prevent or slow the growth of tumors. Grapes also contain an antioxidant called lutein that can help maintain eye health.
Fresh pineapple contains bromelain that can reduce swelling, bruising, healing time and pain related to surgery. It is also shown to aid in digestion and eye health.
Bananas are rich in potassium, which helps muscle to contract, including the heart, and helps maintain fluid levels in the body. Additionally, a potassium-rich diet can help lower blood pressure and the risk of heart disease.
Bananas also can be good for your mental health. Bananas have high levels of tryptophan, which the body converts to serotonin, the mood-elevating brain neurotransmitter. Bananas also contain vitamin B6, which can help you sleep better, and magnesium, which helps relax the muscles.
Peaches contain many nutrients and minerals that have health benefits including dietary fiber, vitamin C, vitamin A, vitamin E, potassium, manganese and phosphorus. Peaches also contain phenolic acid that have anti-obesity and anti-cancer properties.