03 Aug The 20 Healthiest (and Tastiest!) Fruits, Part One
Fruit is a highly nutritious, delicious, and convenient addition to any diet. With more than 2,000 varieties of fruit available, you may wonder which ones you should pick.
We’ve rounded up a list of the 20 Healthiest Fruits in this mini-series. This is Part One; next week, we’ll finish up this mini-series with Part Two.
One of the most popular fruits, apples are chock-full of nutrition.
They’re rich in both soluble and insoluble fiber, such as pectin, hemicellulose, and cellulose. These help you manage your blood sugar levels, promote good digestion, and support gut and heart health. 2 3 4
In addition, they’re a good source of vitamin C and plant polyphenols, which are disease-fighting compounds found in plants. In fact, consuming apples regularly may lower your risk of heart disease, stroke, cancer, overweight, obesity, and neurological disorders. 5 6 7
Note that most of the polyphenols in apples are located just below the skin, so be sure to eat it to reap the greatest benefits.
Blueberries are well known for their antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties.
In particular, they’re high in anthocyanin, a plant pigment and flavonoid that gives blueberries their characteristic blue-purple color. This compound helps fight cell-damaging free radicals that can lead to disease. 8
Numerous studies have pointed to the health benefits of a diet high in anthocyanins, such as a lower risk of type 2 diabetes, heart disease, overweight, obesity, high blood pressure, certain types of cancer, and cognitive decline. 8 9 10 11 12 13
For example, a study including over 200,000 participants observed a 5% decrease in the risk of type 2 diabetes for every 17 grams of anthocyanin-rich berries they consumed per day. 14
Other berries high in anthocyanins include blackberries, bilberry, elderberry, cherries, and chokeberries.
The benefits of bananas go beyond their potassium content. Along with providing 7% of the Daily Value (DV) for potassium, bananas contain: 15
- Vitamin B6: 27% of the DV
- Vitamin C: 12% of the DV
- Magnesium: 8% of the DV
In addition, they offer a wide variety of plant compounds called polyphenols and phytosterols, both of which support your overall health. Furthermore, they’re high in prebiotics, a type of fiber that promotes the growth of beneficial bacteria in the gut. 16 17 18 19
Note that green, unripe bananas are higher in resistant starch than ripe ones, and they’re a good source of the dietary fiber pectin. Both of these have been linked to a number of health benefits, including improved blood sugar control and better digestive health. 20 21
Oranges are known for their high vitamin C content, providing 91% of the DV in a single fruit. They’re also high in potassium, folate, thiamine (vitamin B1), fiber, and plant polyphenols. 24
Studies have found that consuming whole oranges may lower levels of inflammation, blood pressure, cholesterol, and post-meal blood sugar. 25
Though 100% orange juice provides a high volume of nutrients and antioxidants, it usually lacks dietary fiber. Varieties that include the pulp do include some fiber, so opt for these over juices without pulp.
That said, try to eat whole oranges more often, and keep juice portions to 1 cup (235 mL) or less per serving.
05 Dragon fruit
Also known as pitaya or pitahaya, dragon fruit is rich in many nutrients, including fiber, iron, magnesium, and vitamins C and E. It’s also an excellent source of carotenoids, such as lycopene and beta carotene. 26
People in Southeast Asian cultures have regarded dragon fruit highly for hundreds of years as a health-promoting fruit. Over recent decades, it has gained popularity in Western countries. 26
Known as the “king of fruits,” mangoes are an excellent source of potassium, folate, fiber, and vitamins A, C, B6, E, and K. They’re also rich in numerous plant polyphenols that have antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. 27
In particular, mangoes are high in mangiferin, a potent antioxidant. Studies have shown it may protect the body from chronic diseases, such as type 2 diabetes, heart disease, Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, and certain forms of cancer. 28 29 30
What’s more, mangoes contain fiber, which helps support regular bowel movements and aids digestive health. 31
Unlike most other fruits, avocados are high in healthy fats and low in natural sugars.
They’re mostly made of oleic acid, a monounsaturated fat linked to better heart health. They also contain high amounts of potassium, fiber, vitamin B6, folate, vitamins E and K, and two carotenoids known as lutein and zeaxanthin, which support eye health. 32 33 34
In fact, a high quality 2020 study found a significant decrease in cholesterol levels and an increase in blood lutein levels among participants who consumed an avocado per day for 5 weeks. 35
When compared by weight, avocados are higher in calories than most other fruits. However, studies have linked them to better weight management. Researchers have proposed that this is because their high fat and fiber contents promote fullness. 36 37
Lychee, which is also known as litchi and Chinese cherry, is packed with nutrition.
- gallic acid
- chlorogenic acid
- caffeic acid
One serving of lychee is around seven small individual fruits.
Pineapple is one of the most popular tropical fruits.
One cup (165 grams) of pineapple provides 88% of the DV for vitamin C and 73% of the DV for manganese. 40
Pineapple also contains a number of polyphenolic compounds that have antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. 43
Additionally, pineapple contains an enzyme known as bromelain, which people commonly use to tenderize meats. Anecdotal sources also claim this enzyme may support digestion, though there’s limited research on this.
Strawberries are a favorite fruit for many. They’re delicious, convenient, and highly nutritious. In particular, strawberries are a good source of vitamin C, folate, and manganese. 44
They’re full of plant polyphenols that act as antioxidants, such as flavonoids, phenolic acids, lignans, and tannins.
Furthermore, they have a low glycemic index, meaning they won’t significantly affect your blood sugar levels.