What are fruits?
Fruit is the sweet and typically fleshy, seed-bearing product of a flowering plant or tree.
Although all fruit is healthy there’s no single fruit or vegetable that provides all the nutrients you need, so it’s important to eat a wide variety and as a minimum, get your 5-a-day.
What are the healthiest fruits?
Apples are packed with pectin, a soluble fibre that supports digestion and may have an immune modulatory effect. Cooking varieties of apple are the richer nutritional sources, but all apples are beneficial, especially when eaten whole.
Rich in protective polyphenols, studies also suggest that including foods like apples in your regular diet may reduce the risk of certain cancers and from developing conditions such as type 2 diabetes.
Discover the health benefits of apples.
Avocados have been applauded for their nutrient density, with just half an average fruit counting as 1 portion of your 5-a-day. They’re an excellent source of monounsaturated fat and vitamin E, and a good source of folate – all of which benefit the heart. Avocado also supplies more soluble fibre than most other fruit and contain a number of useful minerals including iron, copper and potassium.
Discover the health benefits of avocado.
In addition to pectin, bananas contain resistant starch, a type of fibre that has prebiotic properties – it fuels the healthy gut bacteria so they increase in number and as a consequence produce more beneficial compounds called short chain fatty acids.
Discover the health benefits of bananas.
Anthocyanin pigments are responsible for this berry’s rich colour as well as many of its protective properties. Although low in calories, blackberries have even more vitamin C, folate and fibre than the much-acclaimed blueberry.
Discover the health benefits of blackberries.
Tart to the taste, blackcurrants are one of the richest berries for their health-promoting nutrients. With 30 times more vitamin C and 40% more protective polyphenols than blueberries, these are the undeclared stars of the fruit garden. Numerous studies suggest they’re of benefit for high blood pressure and other cardiovascular illnesses.
Reputed for being rich in naturally occurring plant compounds such as ellagic acid and anthocyanins – these compounds in blueberries have protective properties, which help the body combat a long list of diseases.
Discover the health benefits of blueberries.
Another valuable source of anthocyanins, cherries appear to have anti-inflammatory effects. Initial research has shown that these plant compounds may be beneficial in inflammatory conditions including arthritis. However, more research is needed to replicate these results in human studies.
Discover the health benefits of cherries.
The juice of these little red berries is probably best known for helping to manage urinary tract infections (UTI). Cranberries contain pro-anthocyanidin compounds, which have natural antibacterial benefits and may help prevent escherichia coli from attaching to the surface of the bladder and urinary tract.
There are many studies supporting cranberry juice as a means to help prevent a UTI and its reoccurrence, but it appears to be less effective once the infection has taken hold. Some studies also suggest it may not work for everyone.
If you choose to drink cranberry juice for its potential UTI benefits, opt for an unsweetened 100% juice.
Discover the health benefits of cranberries.
Eating citrus fruit regularly is thought to improve heart health since a diet high in citrus flavonoids – the plant compounds found in the likes of grapefruit – may help lower the risk of stroke. Grapefruit is also rich in potassium and fibre which help manage blood pressure.
Discover the health benefits of grapefruit.
As the skin and seeds of grapes are loaded with nutrients and protective plant compounds, it’s best to enjoy grapes whole. The plant compounds in grapes, including resveratrol and quercetin, are thought to benefit the cardiovascular system, protecting it from inflammatory damage.
Discover the health benefits of grapes.
Compared with other commonly eaten fruit, kiwi is unrivalled for its nutrient density, health benefits and ability to support heart health. Regularly eating the fruit appears to increase high-density lipoprotein (HDL) – the so-called ‘good’ cholesterol – reduce other blood triglycerides (fats) and minimises platelet aggregation, which over time may lead to atherosclerosis. Kiwi also helps manage blood pressure, thanks to its effects on the angiotensin-converting enzyme.
Discover the health benefits of kiwi.
Rich in polyphenols, olives may help reduce the risk of chronic diseases including atherosclerosis and cancer. Oleocanthal is one such polyphenol and appears to share the same pharmacological activity as ibuprofen, acting as a potent natural anti-inflammatory. This useful property has been associated with positive effects in those living with rheumatoid arthritis.
Discover the health benefits of olives.
Like other citrus fruit, oranges contain health-promoting compounds which research suggests may support the body and protect us from conditions such as heart disease and cancer. Don’t discard the peel because it contains higher amounts of certain nutrients, which means using the zest in recipes will give your diet an extra boost.
Discover the health benefits of oranges.
A tropical fruit loaded with vitamin C and fibre, unripe papaya is a source of the enzyme papain which is useful for breaking down protein and tenderising meat. Being orange in colour, papaya is a source of carotenoids – in particular, bioavailable provitamin A in the form of beta-carotene, beta-cryptoxanthin and lycopene.
Good for the heart and blood pressure, pears are rich in folate and potassium and are a useful source of both soluble and insoluble fibre. Enjoy the fruit with the skin intact for optimal benefits.
Discover the health benefits of pears.
With equal and, possibly more, antioxidant activity than blueberries, the darker the skin of the plum, the richer its beneficial plant compounds. These compounds are believed to support memory, boost bone health and have anti-inflammatory properties.
Discover the health benefits of plums.
With studies suggesting pomegranate juice has an antioxidant activity three times higher than that of red wine and green tea, it would be fair to expect some pretty impressive health benefits. Current studies don’t disappoint with research underway to examine the effects of pomegranate juice on the inflammatory markers of patients hospitalised with covid-19.
Discover the health benefits of pomegranate.
Enjoy pomegranate in our recipes, including pomegranate chicken with almond couscous, chicken tagine with lemon, olives and pomegranate, and beetroot and halloumi salad with pomegranate and dill.
Deliciously sweet, low-calorie and with just seven berries comprising 1 of your 5-a-day, strawberries are a top healthy treat. Rich in polyphenols, eating strawberries may help to improve digestion, brain function and support heart health.
Discover the health benefits of strawberries.
With much of the goodness found in the skin, it’s well worth eating tomatoes whole.
Discover the health benefits of tomatoes.
As its name suggests watermelon has a high water content – approximately 92% – and may, as a result, help maintain hydration. It’s a useful source of vitamins and minerals, including vitamin C and potassium, and is especially rich in carotenoids, such as lycopene. In fact, the type of lycopene watermelon provides is more readily available, making this fruit an extremely valuable source.
Discover the health benefits of watermelon.
Enjoyed this? Now read …
Kerry Torrens BSc. (Hons) PgCert MBANT is a registered nutritionist with a post graduate diploma in Personalised Nutrition & Nutritional Therapy. She is a member of the British Association for Nutrition and Lifestyle Medicine (BANT) and a member of the Guild of Food Writers. Over the last 15 years she has been a contributing author to a number of nutritional and cookery publications including BBC Good Food. Find her on Instagram at @kerry_torrens_nutrition_
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