According to the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), adults should be eating 2-4 servings of fruit each day. Even though there are many processed foods that contain fruits or fruit flavoring (along with various sweeteners and preservatives), the recommendation is to consume whole fruits because of their nutritional value. While fresh fruit is a great option for many people, most of the health benefits are still available in the juices, essences, and purees that are used in commercial food products. Below are some of the most nutrient-dense and healthy fruits you can eat:
- Apples: What might seem like a classic American fruit is actually one of the most popular and most common fruits all around the world. Apples are rich in dietary fiber, including a type of soluble fiber called pectin; pectin is found in the cell walls of plants and is believed to help prevent constipation as well as have a positive impact on LDL cholesterol levels. The juice of apples also contains a fair amount of vitamin C, an essential nutrient that has antioxidant properties.
- Lemons: Like other citrus fruits, lemons and their juice have a significant amount of vitamin C; in fact, a regular serving size has over 50% of the daily recommended value. In addition to acting as an antioxidant to ward off free radicals, vitamin C is beneficial for immune system health in general. Vitamin C is also one of the key components used in the formation of collagen, a structural protein found in connective tissue and skin cells.
- Kiwi: Kiwifruit and its juice have been associated with overall health and wellbeing for hundreds of years. Kiwifruit are still known for being nutritionally dense, with significant amounts of vitamin C, vitamin K, and vitamin E. While these fuzzy, green fruits have many nutrients that other fruits have, they also contain an enzyme called actinidin. Actinidin is thought to improve digestive health by breaking down certain proteins and improving bowel motility.
- Pineapple: This popular tropical fruit has long been known for its simultaneously tart and sweet flavor that is welcome in juice mixes, cocktail mixes, desserts, and even savory dishes. In addition to vitamin C, folate (sometimes known as folic acid), and vitamin B6, pineapple is loaded with manganese. Manganese is a mineral involved in bone formation, macronutrient metabolism, and the production of numerous proteins and enzymes.
- Blueberries: Blueberries are often considered a “superfood” because of the wide variety of nutrients they contain. Blueberries are rich in vitamin C, vitamin K, fiber, and manganese, but they are also a great source of flavonoids. Flavonoids are a type of polyphenol compound that are still being actively studied; research to date has shown that fruits like blueberries may have both antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. These properties are thought to be beneficial for maintaining cognitive function, decrease the risk of neurodegenerative diseases, and even lessen the chances of heart disease.
- Cranberry: Known for their juice and tart flavor, cranberries are similar to blueberries in their nutritional content. They are good sources of dietary fiber, vitamin C, vitamin E, manganese, and various other nutrients. Also, the familiar deep red pigment of cranberries is due to a type of flavonoid called anthocyanins; these compounds are believed to help protect against cancer as well as liver disease.
- Raspberries: In general, berries of all kinds are a nutritious addition to a healthy diet, but raspberries are especially good for us. Though all berries have fiber, raspberries have the most at 8 grams per cup. Fiber is important for gut health, and berries like raspberries can function as both probiotics and prebiotics because of their impact on microbiome diversity. Raspberries are also a good source of magnesium, a mineral that has been associated with reducing high blood pressure and the risk of heart disease.
- Watermelon: As the name implies, watermelon contains a lot of water (91%). This makes it a great fruit for maintaining healthy hydration levels, but the juice also has a number of other important nutrients. Watermelon is a good source of vitamin C, calcium, and magnesium. The high water also makes watermelon a great choice for a weight loss plan since it is filling and nutritious yet has very few calories.
- Papaya: Though papayas originated in North America thousands of years ago, it is still a somewhat novel fruit in the American diet. In addition to being rich in vitamin C and folate, papayas are also one of the best fruit sources for vitamin A. Vitamin A is a versatile nutrient that is involved in normal vision, immune system function, and overall growth and development of the body.
- Grapefruit: Grapefruit is similar to other citrus fruits like oranges and limes in terms of its nutrient profile, but it is bigger and has its own unique flavor. Grapefruit and grapefruit juice have especially high levels of citric acid, a compound that is useful, among other things, in ridding the body of excess calcium; this is beneficial in reducing the risk of developing kidney stones.
- Pomegranate: Pomegranates are originally from the region around the Mediterranean Sea, but over time it has become familiar all over the world. Unlike most other fruits, the seeds (known as arils) are eaten rather than the flesh or skin. Pomegranates are rich in fiber, vitamin C, folate, thiamine, and manganese, and they are also a good source of potassium. Potassium is beneficial in part because it helps the body remove sodium from the bloodstream and thereby reduces blood pressure.
- Strawberries: Strawberries are one of the most popular berries in the world, in part because they are both highly nutritious and seemingly decadent. As a low glycemic index food, strawberries are a favorite food for weight loss because they are nutrient-dense but don’t have a major effect on blood sugar. They also contain a number of phytonutrients like anthocyanins and flavonols that are known to have antioxidant properties.
- Peaches: The peach is a well-known summer fruit with a mild sweet flavor that works in beverages, drink mixes, baked goods, and countless other applications. Peaches aren’t high in any particular nutrient category, but they do have a wide variety such as vitamin E, vitamin K, niacin, folate, and numerous minerals. One of the minerals, iron, is an important component of red blood cells.
Contact FruitSmart for Natural Fruit Ingredients
Healthcare advocates often talk about the value of plant-based and whole foods in a regular daily diet, but most fruits and their juice contain nutrients that are still available after being processed in FruitSmart facilities. At FruitSmart, we are dedicated to providing only the best fruit juices, essences, purees, and concentrates that can add significant nutritional value to any kind of recipe. If you would like to learn more about how FruitSmart can help you provide high quality products to your customers, please contact us today to speak with a member of our team.