Fill Up On Fruit

By: Co+op

It's hard to imagine why many of us aren't eating enough fruit. What other food so perfectly satisfies both our nutrient needs and our sweet tooth with so many options?

Most fruits are low in fat, sodium, and calories (while still providing a feeling of fullness). By choosing generously from the wide variety of fruits in the produce aisle, you'll bring home a broad spectrum of nutrients, too. Pick any fruit, and you can be certain it's full of good stuff:

  • Apples, blackberries, pears, and raspberries are especially high in fiber, which can help reduce cholesterol and lower the risk of heart disease.
  • Strawberries are an excellent source of folate, which helps form red blood cells and is especially important for a healthy pregnancy. Blackberries, cantaloupe, and papaya are good sources, too.
  • Apricots, cantaloupe, grapefruit, mango, and watermelon are high in vitamin A, important for eye and skin health and for fighting infection.
  • Avocados, bananas, cantaloupe, kiwi fruit, and sweet cherries are good sources of potassium, which can help maintain healthy blood pressure.
  • Deep orange or red fruits like mangos, melons, and oranges are all high in vitamin C, which is important for growth and repair of body tissues and healthy gums and teeth.
  • Blackberries, blueberries, cherries, kiwi fruit, oranges, pink grapefruit, plums, raspberries, red grapes, and strawberries are the fruits highest in antioxidants, which can help protect vision and fight heart disease, type 2 diabetes, and some cancers.

While you're expanding your fruit repertoire, have fun trying things you haven't tasted before (ever had a pluot or pomegranate?). It’s also a great excuse to sample that local farmer's heirloom apple!

In addition to filling your shopping basket with a colorful variety of fruits, to ensure the most healthful, delicious produce, choose in-season, local, organic fare when possible. Fresh, seasonal fruits are usually less expensive, to boot; you can find great options at the co-op or farmers' market. Wherever you shop, look for fruit that's unbruised and otherwise undamaged, though a little variation is perfectly fine (funny-shaped berries, unusually colored apples, or slightly scarred melons are just showing their home-grown character!).

When tallying your fruit consumption, quality frozen, canned, and dried fruit count, too, since they're typically processed shortly after harvesting to lock in nutrients and flavor. Dried fruit loses some vitamin C content when processed, but it still contains all of the fruit's minerals, fiber, and phytochemicals. Of course, 100% fruit juice (orange, apple, grape, grapefruit) in moderation is a great source of fruit as well.

On your next shopping trip, buy enough fruit to top your breakfast cereal, waffles, or pancakes, eat for a snack and dessert, toss in a salad, include in a kebab, top a pizza, or add to a smoothie. You’ll be eating healthier and meeting your daily fruit requirements in no time.