Best Fruits You Should Be Eating Every Day
Nature’s candy, AKA fruit, should be easy enough to eat. Most fruit is sweet, hydrating, and overall delicious, but only 12% of Americans get the recommended one and a half to two cups of fruit a day.
Eating fruit helps you get essential vitamins and minerals, antioxidants, and fiber. People who eat more fruit have a reduced risk of heart attacks, stroke, and cancer. In a 2021 Australian study, people who ate at least two servings of fruit a day were 36% less likely to develop type 2 diabetes than those who ate less than half a serving daily.
But, with so many different kinds of fruit, which ones should you choose?
First of all, you can’t go wrong adding more fruit to your diet, but some types stand out among the rest as nature’s superstars. Here are seven fruits dietitians say you should be eating, and for more on how to eat healthy, make sure you avoid these 100 Unhealthiest Foods on the Planet.
Strawberries are a versatile and healthy fruit that has a portion size larger than most other fruit. Plus, even though they’re sweet as can be, they’re an excellent choice for people with diabetes or on a low-carb diet.
“A serving of strawberries is one and a quarter cup which is equivalent to 15 grams of carbohydrate and three grams of fiber, making this a good fruit choice for people with diabetes,” says Toby Smithson, RD registered dietitian, certified diabetes care and education specialist, founder of Diabetes EveryDay and author of Diabetes Meal Planning and Nutrition for Dummies.
Ever wonder what gives strawberries their deep red color? “[They’re] a great source of the antioxidant anthocyanin, which has been shown to reduce inflammation, oxidative stress, and insulin resistance which are all risk factors associated with type 2 diabetes,” says Smithson.
“Once you pop, you just can’t stop” should have been written about these blue beauties. It’s easy to eat a handful (or several) in one sitting, but thankfully blueberries are just as healthy as they are delicious.
Blueberries are full of antioxidants, and eating berries at least twice a week is an important part of the MIND Diet, a diet that has neuroprotective effects, explains registered dietitian Christina Iaboni, RD.
Instead of always snacking on regular blueberries, give wild blueberries a try. They’re loaded with anti-inflammatory benefits and have two times more health-helping antioxidants than conventional blueberries, explains Amy Gorin, MS, RDN, an inclusive plant-based registered dietitian nutritionist.
“Regularly eating wild blueberries has been shown to help improve memory and slow brain aging,” says Gorin. One small study found that older adults who ate one cup of fresh blueberries daily for three months had significant improvements on mental cognition tests.
Nothing goes better with a summer picnic than a big juicy slice of watermelon. This summertime staple doesn’t only taste good, it’s also bursting with health benefits.
“Watermelon is high in lycopene, an antioxidant which studies suggest can lower the risk of certain cancers and improve heart health,” says Rachel Rothman, MS, RD, CLEC. Lycopene helps give watermelon its red color and can be found in other foods like tomatoes, grapefruit, and papaya.
If you typically toss the watermelon rind in the trash or compost bin, you’re missing out on a lot of amazing nutrition. The watermelon rind is actually edible! “It’s rich in fiber and contains beneficial amino acids, like citrulline, which some studies have shown to boost heart health,” says Rothman.
If fresh fruit is hard to come by or keep around, give prunes a try. Prunes are dried plums that are perfect to keep in your pantry for a nutrient boost added to salads, smoothies, or just to snack on.
Eating just five to six prunes provides three grams of fiber and a big boost for bone health, explains Gorin. One small study found that just five prunes a day prevented total body bone mineral density in a group of older women with osteoporosis. Researchers give credit to prunes’ ability to reduce the breakdown of bone, although aren’t yet sure about the mechanism behind it.
There’s nothing more convenient than a fruit that comes in its own neat little package. While some naysayers in the past have accused bananas of being too high in sugar, they’re actually the perfect fruit to provide energy on the go. One of my favorite times to eat bananas is pre-workout. They’re easy to digest and one medium banana has 27 grams of carbohydrate to fuel a run or spin class.
“All produce is nutritious and has benefits, but the best produce is whatever you can maintain in your diet based on your family and economic constraints, and bananas often fit the bill,” says Sharon Puello, MA, RD, CDN, CDCES.
If your grocery budget is stretched thin, bananas make it easy to eat and serve fruit each day. Buy more than you need when they’re on sale, sometimes as low as $0.20 each, and pop what you can’t eat into the freezer to add a big nutrient burst to breads, muffins, and smoothies.