Tip

Need a reason to eat more fruit? We have 6.

By Lindsay Moyer

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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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