Are you eating enough fruit?

5 reasons to fill up your fruit bowl this summer

Eat more fruits and vegetables. That advice goes for just about everyone. When it comes to fruit, it’s not just about the vitamins and minerals (plenty) or the calories (few). Who can resist a bite of a sweet summer peach, a wedge of juicy watermelon, or a succulent mango?

1. They pack in nutrients.

Click here to see how each fruit scores in our nutrient ranking. The list is impressive. Many fruits supply fiber, potassium, vitamin C, folate, and carotenoids (like beta-carotene and lutein). And our scores don’t even give credit for phytochemicals that may matter.

But don’t rush out and trade in your cantaloupe for (top-ranked) pink guavas. (Thanks to their seedy centers, flavorful guavas are more likely to end up in juices, jams, and pastries than in one of your grocer’s fruit bins. Too bad.)

Instead, repeat after us: All fruits are good fruits. Sure, some are standouts. For example, raspberries are rich in fiber and kiwis pack in the vitamin C. But what would life be like without grapes or nectarines? Fruit salad, anyone?

2. They’re low in calories per bite.

A serving of most fresh or frozen fruit (5 oz., or about 1 cup or 1 piece) has just 50 to 100 calories. Fruit is high in water, so it’s low in calories per bite. That’s not true for raisins, prunes, and other dried fruits. Thanks to less water, they have 100 to 120 calories in a petite ¼-cup serving (1½ oz.).

It’s not just a matter of water. Whole fruit keeps you full for longer than 100% fruit juice. Chewing on its intact plant cells may explain why.

3. They protect the heart & brain.

Fruits and vegetables are the bedrock of a blood-pressure-lowering DASH (Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension) diet, which includes about 2½ cups of fruit a day.

Why does fruit matter? For starters, eating plenty of fruit is a good way to pile up the potassium, which lowers blood pressure in people with hypertension. That may help explain why studies that track thousands of people for years find that those who eat more fruit have a lower risk of heart attack and stroke.

4. They’re easy.

In the time it takes to unwrap a granola bar or tear open a bag of sugary “fruit” snacks, you could bite into an apple, peel a banana, skin a clementine, or pop open a pint of blueberries.

What’s more, stockpiling frozen fruit means that strawberries, raspberries, cherries, etc., can chill out until the moment your yogurt, oatmeal, or smoothie is ready for them. Mmm.

Sure, slicing into a pineapple, melon, or anything with a thick rind or large pit takes a slightly bigger commitment. But YouTube is full of videos on “how to cut a papaya” and more. Trust us; the payoff is worth it.

5. They’re delicious.

But you don’t need us to tell you that. Click here for our guide to buying everything from apples to watermelon.

Photos: stock.adobe.com (top to bottom): M.studio, virtustudio, boonchuay1970, Anna Kucherova, atoss, kovaleva_ka.

The information in this post first appeared in the June 2020 issue of Nutrition Action Healthletter.


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