Fruits Yield Tasty Health Benefits
Fruit comes in so many colors, shapes, and flavors. Visit your local farmer's market, a fruit stand, or a grocery store, and drink in the variety of fragrances, textures, and hues. Loading up on enough fruits to have one and a half cups of fruit a day helps reduce your risk of chronic diseases and cancer, according to the USDA. A healthy diet that includes a rich selection of fruits and vegetables helps ward off heart disease, high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes, kidney stones, as well as cancers of the mouth, stomach, and colon.
Hidden Goodies in Beautiful Packages
Fruits have many dietary benefits. They contain dietary fiber, phenols, antioxidants, folic acid and vitamin C. Fruits are low in fat, calories, and sodium. Don't worry about raising your cholesterol if you eat fruit -– it doesn't have any.
- Dietary Fiber: Fresh and dried fruits are a good source of dietary fiber. While you're snacking on that apple-cranberry-banana salad, you're lowering your cholesterol, reducing your risk of heart disease, and keeping your digestive system happy. Fiber from fruit helps reduce constipation and diverticulosis, while giving you that feeling of fullness that helps you cut down on overeating.
- Phenols: Peel an orange or squeeze a lemon, and inhale the citrus aroma -– phenols are aromatic compounds that occur in essential oils of fruits. The benefits don't stop at the great fragrance though, because phenols have powerful antiseptic and antibacterial properties. These fragrant compounds can act as nerve stimulants and immune system stimulants.
- Antioxidants: These compounds inhibit or reduce oxidation damage caused by free radicals, thus preventing some cell damage. Antioxidants can help promote good health for your heart, brain, and eyes, by slowing the natural aging process.
- Folic Acid: Folic acid, or folate is necessary to the production of red blood cells, which carry oxygen throughout your body. These cells also remove waste products from your tissues. Premenopausal women, and women who are in the first three months of pregnancy require an adequate supply of folate. Eating fruits and vegetables that are high in folate, or taking folic acid supplements helps reduce your baby's risk of neural tube defects, spina bifida, and anencephaly as they develop in your womb.
- Potassium: You can take potassium as a supplement, but it's more fun to enjoy the taste of fruits that are high in potassium, such as bananas, prunes, dried peaches and apricots, cantaloupe, and honeydew melon. Prune juice and orange juice are also fine sources of potassium. These fruits may help keep your blood pressure in the healthy range. The electrolyte action of potassium helps keep your muscles healthy by maintaining good fluid levels, and assisting with your metabolism.
- Vitamin C: Not just in oranges or other citrus fruits, vitamin C is important for all of your body tissues. Vitamin C assists with tissue growth and repair, helps heal cuts and wounds, and keeps your teeth and gums healthy.
Best Ways to Eat Your Fruit
To get the most cancer-fighting benefits from fruit, eat it fresh. It can be whole fruit, or you can try sliced or chunked servings of fruit. Fresh fruits have the fullest health benefits, particularly from fiber. If you need something more convenient than fresh fruit, try pre-cut fruit that is packed in cans or jars without additional sugar. Dried fruits are portable, and are available in a variety at most grocery stores. Frozen fruits can be kept on hand and used in smoothies, pies, or compotes. Pureed and juiced fruits, particularly canned and bottled juices, have little or no fiber, but are still beneficial.
|Antioxidant Activity||Antiproliferative* Power|
|Red Grapes||Red Grapes||Apple|
|Strawberry, Blueberry, Raspberry||Strawberry, Blueberry, Raspberry||Strawberry, Blueberry, Raspberry|
|Grapefruit||Pineapple||*preventing spread of malignant cells|