The Role of Fruits in a Nutritious Diet
Since humans walked the Earth, fruit has been a vital and irreplaceable part of our diet. Fresh fruits are a crucial source of essential vitamins and minerals that our bodies need for homeostasis. Even today, fruits and vegetables are considered the cornerstone of a healthy diet.
The Complexity Beneath the Surface
However, beneath the surface, it’s not quite that simple. While fruit is an important part of your diet, as our diets become more complex, fruit can also end up contributing to areas where we might not need as much. Fruit is relatively high in sugar, for instance, and at a time when many of us are looking to reduce our sugar intake, it’s wise to consume fruit in moderation.
Moreover, not all fruits are created equal; each has different nutritional profiles, so doing a bit of research on what you’re eating before consuming them pays off. Also, keep in mind that while fresh fruit retains all its nutrients and minerals, cooking fruits will remove much of their nutritional value. If you’re looking to include more fruit in your diet, here are the 8 fruits we would turn to first.
As far as tropical fruits go, pineapple ranks high in terms of nutrition. Packed with essential nutrients, pineapple is particularly rich in vitamin C and manganese – a crucial nutrient aiding protein and amino acid digestion, metabolism, and bone and tissue formation.
What sets pineapple apart is the presence of bromelain – a mix of enzymes that digest proteins (hence the tingling sensation in your mouth when you eat pineapple). Bromelain is an effective anti-inflammatory, and studies have shown its potential in combating osteoarthritis, diarrhea, various cardiovascular disorders, and even cancer.
The superfood poster child, blueberries are exceptionally well-rounded and easy to incorporate into your diet. Besides being particularly rich in vitamin C, vitamin K, and manganese, blueberries are also famous for their antioxidant content. Antioxidants are vital for protecting your cells from free radicals – unstable atoms that damage your cells and can lead to disease and aging.
Research into what antioxidants can do for the body has been extremely promising. One study found that antioxidants can reduce the risk of chronic diseases such as heart disease, Alzheimer’s, and diabetes. Adding blueberries to your diet has also been shown to improve memory retention in adults.
Additionally, blueberries are packed with fiber, helping you feel fuller for longer and providing a steady release of energy throughout the day.
Grapefruits might split opinions – many find them overly sour and acidic, but there’s no denying their nutritional credentials. Grapefruit is loaded with vitamin C and also contains a good amount of vitamin A, manganese, thiamine, folate, and magnesium, as well as an array of antioxidants.
Grapefruit also leads to a significant reduction in insulin levels and insulin resistance; as a result, it’s generally not recommended for diabetics, but it’s useful for those seeking weight and cholesterol reduction.
Our bodies are about 60% water on average, so staying hydrated is crucial for staying healthy. Hydration affects nearly everything you do, from sleep quality and mood to body temperature, cell regeneration, and your immune system.
If you struggle to drink enough water throughout the day, watermelon might be the answer. Watermelon is about 92% water, so it truly helps hydrate you. It’s also rich in vitamins A and C and has a range of beneficial antioxidants, including lycopene, which studies claim is good for your heart and can reduce cancer risk.
Another divisive fruit, avocados come with their share of issues, but their nutritional profile is remarkable. Avocado is a great source of potassium, iron, and vitamin E. It’s also rich in oleic acid – a monounsaturated fat shown to help lower cholesterol and reduce the risk of heart disease.
Avocados have a significant carbon footprint when they make it to our shores and are quite calorie-dense – a single avocado can be around 400 calories on its own. They’re definitely worth including in a healthy diet, but in moderation.
Bananas are famously high in potassium – 1 banana provides 12% of your recommended daily intake – but there’s plenty more good nutrition. Like apples, bananas are rich in pectin, which is great for your gut health. They also offer plenty of fiber, making them an excellent source of slow-release energy. If you prefer underripe bananas, you might be in luck – recent studies have shown that the extra resistant starch in greener bananas is fantastic for satiety and blood sugar control.
Cheap, nutritious, and easily available, there’s no excuse not to include apples in your diet. Like blueberries, apples are rich in antioxidants and boast plenty of vitamin C, vitamin K, potassium, and fiber. There are five times more antioxidants in the skin of an apple than in the flesh, so if you’re eating apples – don’t peel them!
Apples are also notably high in pectin – a prebiotic fiber that’s fantastic for your gut bacteria and your digestion and metabolism.
Vitamin A, vitamin C, folate, potassium, copper, manganese, and antioxidants? Guava is as well-rounded a fruit as you’ll find anywhere, so it’s worth grabbing if you can find it. Additionally, guava is an excellent source of dietary fiber and pectin, so incorporating it into your diet will work wonders for your digestion.