Ripe, juicy berries, succulent melons, crisp, crunchy apples, exotic star fruit, and pomegranates... there is a reason why fruit is a favorite snack and a main ingredient in endless recipes. It’s delicious; sweet enough to satisfy sugary cravings, and sensible enough to be guilt-free; organic fruit is not only a wonderful treat, but it also provides a host of health benefits. Next time you reach for a snack, think about reaching for some tasty snacks from the fruit basket – and think about giving your body and mind a boost.
Filled with essential vitamins, minerals, and fiber, fruit is a nutritious, convenient snack that fits into even the most hectic of schedules. Studies show that people who eat “generous amounts” of fruits – and veggies – are less likely to develop chronic diseases, stroke, certain cancers, and cardiovascular diseases than those who do not eat enough. How much is enough? Fruit and Veggies Matter, a site powered by the CDC, has a handy tool to help you determine how much you should be eating every day. Say you are a 40-year-old female who exercises 30 to 60 minutes each day; according to the CDC, you should be eating (and enjoying) 2 cups of fruit each day, and 2.5 cups of vegetables.
But not all fruit is created equal: some are mostly sugar, and their juices typically contain more sugar than a can of soda. Your body isn’t going to give you credit for getting your sugar from fruit instead of candy; it treats it the same way.
The following fruits are loaded with sugar:
- Grapes, particularly green grapes. Wine, on the other hand, is a healthy drink in moderation.
- Dried fruits. Dried fruits, such as banana chips, aren’t necessarily “bad.” They are just concentrated. So if you eat a little dried apricot, you are getting all the sugar that you would from eating a fresh apricot. The problem is we tend to eat larger portions of dried fruit than of fresh fruit because it is smaller.
Fruits like oranges and other citruses do have health benefits, but you have to be careful not to go overboard with consumption.
What fruits give you the most bang for your calories?
- Apples. Mmm… fiber. In addition to this filling nutrient, apples are packed with flavonoid antioxidants, which can reduce the risk of heart attack, cancer, and stroke. For only 80 calories, this is a great snack.
- Bananas. Having leg cramps? Eat a banana. These are loaded with potassium, which helps maintain optimal muscle function. It can also help lower blood pressure and reduce the risk of stroke. Not bad for108 calories. Unripened bananas are also getting their due; on the Carb-Lovers’ Diet, they are an excellent source of starch-resistant carbs.
- Berries. These deliver antioxidants, Vitamin C, and protection from cancer, stroke, and heart disease. Try blueberries to fight high blood pressure, macular degeneration, and even brain damage leading to Alzheimer’s. Blackberries, raspberries, and strawberries pack a powerful punch of fiber as well, which can help keep you full longer.
- Cherries. Life is a bowl of cherries, and it can be a pretty good life – potassium, magnesium, folate, Vitamins C and E, and carotenoids help reduce inflammation, bad cholesterol, cancer risk, and arthritic pain.
- Cantaloupe. With less than 200 calories in an entire melon, cantaloupe offers tremendous benefits, including high levels of Vitamin C, carotenoids, and potassium to fight inflammation, cardiovascular disease, and cancer while boosting your immunity.
- Kiwi. With more Vitamin C than an orange, kiwi also delivers Vitamins A and E, potassium, and magnesium. Studies have shown that kiwi can help boost the immune system.
- Papayas. This exotic fruit features Vitamin C, folate, natural digestive enzymes, and carotenoids.
Fruit is excellent on its own, eaten fresh, and it can also be included into recipes for desserts, appetizers, and main courses.
Try this easy smoothie for a healthy, delicious treat anytime:
- 2 cups each of blueberries, raspberries, strawberries, and blackberries. You can substitute your favorite berries or whatever is in season.
- 1 cup cran-raspberry juice.
- 1 cup yogurt (plain or blueberry)
- 2 cups ice
Put everything into the blender until thick, smooth, and delicious. Serve immediately for a fantastic breakfast, dessert, or snack.
Eat more fruit; your body will thank you!