Eating two servings of fruit every day stands as a healthy dietary goal to keep your body thriving. So, if that’s the case, why not choose fruits with the biggest nutritional bang for your buck?
All fruits are not created equal, after all. They all claim certain benefits, of course — but some check a few more boxes when it comes to being really good for you.
So, let’s build a shopping list with the help of registered dietitian Beth Czerwony, RD.
What can blueberries do for you? For starters, they can:
Reduce age-related memory loss.
Help fight off cancer.
Protect your body’s cells.
Boost heart health.
Many of the benefits connect to the high levels of antioxidants packed into the small berries. Antioxidants battle free radicals, unstable atoms in your body that can damage cells and cause illness.
Blueberries also are rich in soluble fiber to tame cholesterol levels and omega-3 fatty acids for brain health. They’re also chock full of vitamin C, Vitamin K and manganese.
And here’s maybe the biggest bonus of all: Blueberries taste great. Snack on them by the handful or toss them into yogurt, oatmeal or salads to add extra flavor. Add it all up, and it’s no wonder why blueberries have been dubbed a “super fruit.”
By the numbers: One cup of blueberries contains about 84 calories, 3.55 grams of fiber and 14.7 grams of natural sugars.
Raspberries are also full of antioxidants and nutrients called polyphenols that decrease oxidative damage. Like their “blue” berry cousin, they’re high in fiber to aid in digestion, blood glucose control and weight loss.
There’s more, too. Raspberries also are great sources of:
Somehow, too, raspberries manage to taste sweet despite being low in sugar. They’re great to eat on their own or as a flavorful addition to various dishes or smoothies.
By the numbers: One cup of raspberries contains about 64 calories, 8 grams of fiber and 5.4 grams of natural sugars.
Notice a theme yet? “Always go for berries,” says Czerwony. “They’re going to be one of the lowest sugar fruits and one of the highest in fiber. That’s a great combo to stabilize your blood sugar and keep you feeling full for longer.”
Blackberries share many of the same attributes as blueberries and raspberries — antioxidants, vitamin C, manganese, etc. The packaging and taste are just a little different.
(Pro tip: If you’re using prepackaged frozen berries of any kind, check the label to see if any sugar has been added. That’s one of several stealthy ways in which fruit can be made less healthy.)
By the numbers: One cup of blackberries contains about 62 calories, 7.6 grams of fiber and 7 grams of natural sugars.
Want an easy way to get all the vitamin C you need today? Then eat a sun-kissed orange.
One orange orb is all it takes to meet your recommended daily intake of vitamin C, an essential nutrient that can:
Boost your immune system.
Keep your skin looking radiant.
Strengthen your bones.
Ease muscle pain.
Also, eating an orange is better than drinking one. While orange juice does offer a healthy splash of vitamin C, it lacks the fiber that’s in the whole fruit. (Learn more about why 100% juice isn’t as healthy as you might think.)
By the numbers: One large orange contains about 86 calories, 4.4 grams of fiber and 17 grams of natural sugars.
An apple a day keeps the doctor away. That old phrase may be a bit of an overstatement, but there’s no question the fruit is a healthy choice. In fact, researchers found that folks who eat an apple a day use fewer prescription medications.
Apples have also been connected to improved heart health, fewer asthma symptoms and reductions in cancer risk. Many of the positives linked to apples come from the fruit’s fiber content.
Want some tips on selecting apple varieties? Then, follow this advice from a registered dietitian.
By the numbers: One medium McIntosh apple contains about 80 calories, 4.9 grams of fiber and 16 grams of natural sugars.
- Star fruit
Enough of the common fruits. Let’s go a bit exotic for our final recommendation.
Star fruit, or carambola, is guaranteed to be a visual delight. “It’s a tropical fruit that looks like it could be a sea creature,” says Czerwony. “When you cut it on the base, it comes out looking like a star. It’s fun.”
It’s also pretty nutritious considering the low calorie count.
By the numbers: One medium star fruit contains about 28 calories, 2.6 grams of fiber and 3.6 grams of natural sugars.
Final thoughts on fruit
The bottom line? Any fruit is better than no fruit. Only 1 in 8 Americans eat the recommended two servings of fruit per day, according to a report by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
So, if you like grapes, buy them and eat them. Pears? Perfect. Pineapples? Who can argue with that tasty treat?
Other tips suggested by Czerwony include:
Buying locally grown fruit in season. Fruit loses some of its nutritional value as it sits after harvest and awaits transport to your grocery store. “The freshest fruit you can find will have the most nutrition,” says Czerwony.
Pair fruit with proteins. Want to turn your afternoon snack into something more complete? Czerwony recommends making a mixed meal by pairing fruit with a protein such as yogurt or peanut butter. “It’ll help you get through the day much better,” she says.
Pay attention to sugar and serving size. Natural sugars are better for you than processed sugars, but some moderation is still warranted. Be mindful to not eat too much of a good thing
Be adventurous. There are more than 2,000 types of fruit in the world that can be prepared and eaten in so many unique ways. “Try something you’ve never had before,” suggests Czerwony. “Who knows? You might really like it.”