Yes, it’s ok to eat fruit even though it has sugar! In fact, we should all incorporate fruits into our daily diet. If you don’t know where to start, I have a top five favorite list that will provide the most nutritiounal value.
We’ve all heard over and over again that fruits and vegetables are good for us and we should eat more of them – that’s nothing new. What is new is that lately, My clients are saying they are not eating fruit anymore “because it has sugar.” This is yet another example of nutrition misinformation.
Let’s set the record straight: Yes, all fruit does include sugar, but it is naturally occurring sugar. The nutritional benefit that fruit provides far outweighs the little bit of sugar they contain. An average serving of fruit has approximately 75 calories and provides vitamins, minerals, fiber, antioxidants, and a sweet taste. What’s not to love??? Sounds like a win-win to me!
So let’s get to the top 5 fruits.
Top Five Fruits
Blueberries top the list for antioxidant benefits. Antioxidants, by definition, stop or delay damage to our body’s cells. This means they are helpful in maintaining heart health, protecting against cancer, warding off memory loss and Alzheimer’s, and protecting our skin from premature aging. Who doesn’t want that?!
Pomegranates also provide lots of antioxidants as well as fiber. In addition, they contain two unique plant properties which are very beneficial in reducing inflammation. Many people shy away from pomegranate because they are unsure how to cut into it. Don’t be intimidated: just cut off the top, slice along each section, then gently pry it open. Scoop out the seeds and enjoy the powerhouse of nutrition it provides!
This should come as no surprise. Avocados have been all the rage recently. Why, you ask? Well, there are many reasons – they are nutrient-dense, heart-healthy, full of antioxidants and vitamins – specifically B vitamins, which are a great source of fiber. Also, avocado is one of the only fruits that contains heart-healthy fats. This is beneficial because the fat in a serving of avocado makes it more satisfying, keeps you feeling full longer and helps the body to absorb vitamins A, D, E and K.
It’s important to note that a serving is only 1/3 of an avocado. Yes, the fat it contains is healthy fat, but the calories and fats can add up quickly if you’re eating avocados frequently.
- To speed up the ripening process, place avocados in a brown paper bag.
- To prevent the avocado from turning brown once cut into, keep the pit in the unused portion and wrap really tight with saran wrap until ready to eat.
Cantaloupe also provides antioxidants and helps fight inflammation, but it offers so much more than that. It’s high in potassium which makes it great for heart health, helps control blood pressure, and reduces the risk of stroke. Cantaloupe is also an excellent source of both Vitamins A, and C. Vitamin A is vital for eye health and keeps hair moisturized and healthy. Vitamin C boosts our immune system and helps the body make collagen which is essential to maintaining strong bones and younger looking skin. Bring on the cantaloupe!
5. Red grapes
Red grapes provide vitamins and antioxidants as most fruits do. They have an added benefit in that they contain the polyphenol resveratrol, which is also what gives red wine its health benefits. Resveratrol has been found to improve heart health, help boost brain power, protect against memory loss, and help with cancer prevention. So, if you’re wondering if you can just have wine instead of the grapes, sadly no. Red grapes provide fiber and important minerals which wine does not -sorry!
While all fruits are healthy, the above 5 offer additional health benefits. Try to include 2-3 servings of fruit daily and opt for those that are in season. Being September, almost all 5 of the fruits mentioned here are currently in season: pomegranates are in season now until February, cantaloupe for another month, and red grapes through October. We’re at the tail end of the blueberry season but frozen wild blueberries are always a great option, and avocados are available all year round.
Here’s to your health! Enjoy!
Linda Nikolakopoulos is a Registered Dietitian and Licensed Nutritionist, serving Boston’s North Shore area. She has 20 years experience in the field of nutrition and has an expertise in weight loss and healthy weight management. She has a non-diet approach and helps clients develop healthy eating habits and a better relationship with food, all while obtaining their weight and healthy lifestyle goals. She sees clients in her Peabody and Danvers offices.