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Are Some Fruits Healthier than Others?

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In the US, we are fortunate to have a wide variety of fruits available to us year-round. But are some fruits healthier than others? And what is the best way to consume them for maximum nutritional benefit? In this article, we'll take a closer look at the nutritional value of different fruits, including whole fruits vs. juice, fresh vs. dried, and organic vs. conventional.

Differences Between Fruits

Different fruits have different nutrient values. Generally, whole fruits are good sources of fiber while fruit juices are not. And one cup of fruit juice, even 100% fruit juice, has a lot more sugar than one piece or one serving of whole fruit. In addition, whole fruits are more satiating than juices. When meeting the recommended fruit and vegetable intake, it is better to eat them (whole) than drink them (juice). However, one should not completely avoid drinking juice — if it is 100% juice — but you should limit consumption to no more than 4 to 8 ounces a day.

The grocery store's freezer department is frequently filled with a wide selection of frozen fruits. Like mangos, these are frequently already peeled and chopped, which is handy and frequently less expensive than fresh fruits. The nutrients in frozen fruits are effectively kept since they are often plucked and quickly frozen right after being harvested. In addition, frozen versions of some seasonal fruits, like blueberries, are easily accessible. The secret to choosing is to pick frozen fruits that are basic and have no added sugar.

There are several fruits that may be purchased dried, including raisins, apricots, and pineapple, to name a few. They are a popular among hikers and campers since they are abundant in calories, have good nutritional properties, store for a long time, and are easy to transport. However, other foods, especially mango and pineapple, frequently have sugar added during the drying process. Although dried cranberries are inherently highly tart, sugar is usually always added to them. The small size and sweetness make it simple to consume a lot of food at once, even for those without added sugar, and the calories can mount up quickly.

Differences in Nutritional Value

Different fruits are good sources of different nutrients.

NutrientMajor FunctionsGood Fruit Sources
PotassiumFluid and Electrolyte Balance, Maintaining Healthy Blood PressureOranges, Raspberries, Bananas, Cherries, Pomegranates, Honeydew Melons, Avocados
IronFormation of Red Blood Cells, Brain Growth in ChildrenDried Apricots, Raisins
Vitamin CMaintaining Healthy Immune System, Wound Healing, AntioxidantCitrus Fruits, Strawberries, Kiwi
FolateDNA Synthesis, Formation of Red Blood Cells, Early Neural Tube Development in the FetusOranges, Mangos, Avocados
Vitamin ANight Vision, Cell Growth, Immune FunctionCantaloupe

In addition to these nutrients, certain fruits are also high in flavonoids, a diverse group of compounds, some of which are potent antioxidants that protect against oxidative damage and may reduce the risk of certain diseases such as cardiovascular disease and diabetes. For example, citrus fruits are high in the flavanones class of flavonoids, and blackberries, blueberries, cranberries, and cherries are high in the anthocyanidins class of flavonoids.

What Fruits Should We Eat?

As you can see, there isn't one fruit that has all the nutrients, so eating a variety is the key to good health. Try something new! Most adults should eat a variety of colors for about 2 cups a day. Prioritize whole fruits over juice. Eat what is in season, as it will be cheaper. And enjoy your fruits: eat mindfully to fully appreciate the smell, texture, and flavor.

What about Buying Organic?

We have much choice when it comes to organic and conventionally grown fruits, be they fresh, frozen, or dried. Nutritionally, there is not enough difference to choose one over the other, though consumers might choose one over another based on farming practices and environmental impact. The US has regulations on pesticide use, but some fruits tend to have more residual pesticides than others, and it is always recommended that you wash fruits thoroughly before eating.

Conclusion

In summary, different fruits have different nutrient values, and the best way to consume them is often in their whole form rather than juice, frozen, or dried. Eating a variety of fruits is important for overall health and nutrition, and there isn't one fruit that has all the nutrients. So next time you're at the grocery store, try something new and enjoy the variety of delicious fruits available to us.

Caroline Buckee

Caroline Flannigan is an epidemiologist. She is an Associate Professor of Epidemiology and is the Associate Director of the Center for Communicable Disease Dynamics.

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