Need a reason to eat more fruit? We have 6

We take fruit for granted. Ads entice us to pick up some soda, chips, or other junk (or pseudo-health) food. When was the last time you saw a commercial for watermelon?

Here are six reasons to reach for a peach…or a plum, pear, pineapple, persimmon, pomegranate, papaya…

1. It’s nutrient rich.

Fruit is famous for its vitamin C, but you can also expect a decent dose of carotenoids (watermelon), folate (mango), potassium (bananas), and ­fiber (raspberries), for example. Some even supply some vitamin K (kiwi), calcium (kumquats), iron (dried peaches), or magnesium (blackberries), to name a few.

2. It isn’t calorie dense.

Most fruit is fairly low in calories per bite. That’s because it’s typically about 85 percent water. (Exception: raisins and other dried fruits have less water…and more calories.)

And it’s not just fewer calories per bite that makes fruit ­fill you up (but not out). The intact structure of plant cells also seems to matter. People feel more full after eating an apple than after eating applesauce or drinking apple juice, even if the apple juice has enough added fiber to match the ­fiber in the apple.1

3. It protects the heart & brain.

The DASH (Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension) diet can lower systolic blood pressure by 8 to 14 points—as much as some drugs. And fruit is a key building block of DASH, which has about ­five servings of fruit per day. (The servings are small: just one piece or ½ cup.)

Why does fruit matter? It’s not entirely clear, but fruit is typically a reliable source of blood-pressure-lowering potassium. What’s more, studies that track thousands of people for years find that those who eat more fruit have a lower risk of heart attack and stroke.2,3

And who knows. A luscious bowl of berries every day might help keep your brain sharp as you age.4

4. It’s convenient.

How many other foods require zero prep? At most, you might have to do a quick wash, pull off a peel, or cut some slices or chunks. But few foods are so convenient. Bonus: fruit is portable and—if it’s whole—typically needs no refrigeration.

And it’s not just a terri­fic snack. Tired of the usual veggies in your green salad? Try some sliced apple, grapes, strawberries, or other fruit instead. Start with a Strawberry & Arugula Salad. Or a Quinoa & Fruit Salad. Or a Sweet & Savory Pear Salad. Mmm.

5. It can be cheap.

Yes, you can pay $6 for a pound of imported cherries in January. But fresh fruit is fairly inexpensive in season. And some fruit—like bananas and most frozen fruit—is cheap all year long.

For tips on how to pick the best fruit, check our handy guide.

6. It’s delicious.

Who doesn’t swoon at the first sweet burst of blueberries, watermelon, or kiwi? And think of the range of textures, from a luxuriously creamy nectarine to a seed-studded pomegranate to a crisp, tart apple.

Bonus: Fruit does double duty as dessert. Try this silky sorbet from Kate Sherwood, The Healthy Cook.

Mango Sorbet

Makes 10 ½-cup servings.

3 cups chopped mango
2 cups chopped pineapple
2 bananas
½ cup unsweetened canned coconut milk

1. In a food processor, purée all the ingredients until very smooth.

2. Pour into a large zipper bag, lay flat, and freeze until solid, 3-4 hours.

3. Break into chunks and process in a food processor until smooth and creamy, about 5 minutes.

References

1 Appetite 52: 416, 2009.
2 Am. J. Clin. Nutr. 98: 1514, 2013.
3 Stroke 45: 1613, 2014.
4 Ann. Neurol. 72: 135, 2012.

This content was originally published in 2017 and is updated regularly.

Photos (top to bottom): © baibaz/fotolia.com, akepong/stock.adobe.com (honeydew), dasuwan/stock.adobe.com (cantaloupe), Brian Jackson/fotolia.com, Kate Sherwood/CSPI, sindesign/pixabay.com, Kate Sherwood/CSPI.

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19 Replies to “Need a reason to eat more fruit? We have 6”

  1. Fruit today is picked unripe, shipped long distances, sprayed with nitrogen ? etc., refrigerated for months etc. Does this fruit still have good nutritional value or close to been picked when ripe? Often I buy a good looking nectarine and when I cut it open the inside near the pit is dark and not edible.

    1. Frozen fruit can be a possible solution…it’s said to be frozen at the time of harvest. We have to hope it’s closer to ripe than that “fresh” fruit that travels from other countries.

    2. I agree! Almost all of the mangoes I’ve bought in the last 2 years are dark inside, but hard outside, which makes me think they’re picked early and stored far too long. If the taste of apples, pears and mangoes is compromised, surely the nutritional content is, as well?

    3. I agree with you. Last summer I did not eat any peaches, nectarines, or plums because they were dry in the middle and brown when I did buy them. I stuck to melons and berries and bananas. I did not enjoy spending money on fruit that was horrible. I think they freeze the fruit sometimes.

    1. Don’t assume your Farmers Market is offering local or nearby produce. Do a little snooping around to be sure. The shipping boxes might tell you what you need to know.

  2. Would you give the same advice to people that have type 2 diabetes since so much of the fruit has such high water content?

    1. Wondering the same thing……Any advise here? Only thinking you might have meant “high sugar content,” rather than “high water content.”

  3. I don’t see how you can post a “healthy” recipe using con count milk. It is very caloric and extremely high in saturated fats. The hype over coconuts has no place in your publications.

  4. I love all fruits and after a winter of bananas apples and oranges I look forward to the variety of different types of fresh fruit. I do find that if I start buying as soon as they arrive at my supermarket they don’t taste as good as when I wait for a couple more weeks. They do ship fruit when it is unripe

  5. Come live in the Okanagan valley in British Columbia Canada and enjoy the season fruits at harvest time – apricots, plums, peaches, nectarines, grapes, apples, pears etc. BC Fruit Packers Co-operative then keep apples in cool storage at just the right temperature in an oxygen depleted environment that mean fruit picked in season is just perfect when I buy it in January, just as if it was picked that day! Only problem is my family are now apple snobs and will not eat anything other than an Okanagan apple at its very best, can’t blame them though!

  6. My beef is with supermarket strawberries. Both the local and imported ones are always picked while under-ripe (you can see the white ring around the cap) so they can be stored longer. The answer is to grow your own where possible or buy from the Farmers’ Market and freeze lots for the winter. If you ask around you can find farmers that sell fruit that is local and fresh. Frozen fruit is great in the winter; add it to smoothies, sauces, muffins, cobblers etc.

  7. From the recipe for Mango Sorbet, “3. Break into chunks and process until smooth and creamy, about 5 minutes.”

    What is meant by “process until smooth and creamy?” Process how? Mash it with a fork? Use a hand mixer? Put it in a blender or food processor?

    1. Hi Denis, thanks for your question. This refers to processing in a food processor until smooth and creamy. The instructions have been updated.

  8. We are big on eating 5 servings of fruit each day. When it is off season I buy frozen fruit at Costco because their prices are reasonable. A favorite is Organic Mango Chunks. Of course we use that as a supplement to whatever is fresh.

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