Whether you subscribe to the old adage of eating an apple a day or you swear by your daily breakfast smoothie, fruit is an important part of a healthy, balanced diet. The World Health Organization suggests eating five daily portions of fruits and vegetables, which works out to 400 grams. Fruit has several healthy qualities: it is low in calories, sodium and fat, and every type contains various levels of folic acid, fiber and vitamin C. Eating fruit on a consistent basis is connected to a lower chance of cardiovascular disease, Alzheimer’s, stroke, and cancer. Since 1989, the National Academy of Sciences has suggested eating five or more fruit servings. But do you know why fruit is so good for you? Check out five common fruits and their health benefits to feel confident about what you are putting into your body.
The greatest health benefit of apples is their antioxidants. These work to prevent disease and to stop or fix any impaired cells in your body. Specifically, the kinds of antioxidants found in apples are polyphenols which decrease the chances of cardiovascular disease. If those weren’t reason enough to stock up on Granny Smiths and McIntoshes, apples also have two kinds of firer: soluble which has cholesterol-lowering pectin, and insoluble which keeps the digestive system regular. Make sure to enjoy the skin as the most fiber is contained there. As a bonus, an apple only has 130 calories. Take one to work for that afternoon snack with some nut butter for a healthy combination of protein and carbohydrates – an apple will give you 25 grams of carbs.
No surprise here: bananas are known for their levels of potassium. One banana has 450 milligrams of potassium. But did you know that potassium is integral for maintaining low blood pressure? The United States Department of Agriculture recommends that adults get 4,700 milligrams of potassium daily. If you consume a diet that includes not only fruit but also low-fat dairy products and vegetables, you can significantly lower your blood pressure. Just like an apple, a banana is low in calories, with only 110 calories and 30 grams of carbohydrates. A single banana also has three grams of fiber. Oranges aren’t the only fruit with Vitamin C: bananas also contain the cancer-fighting vitamin which stops free radicals in your body from leading to the disease.
Whether enjoyed in an afternoon snack with yogurt or a morning smoothie, blueberries are another popular fruit, and they are even lower in calories than an apple or banana: one cup of the berries contains only 84 calories, 3.6 grams of fiber, and 24% of your daily intake of Vitamin C. Blueberries have two important health benefits: antioxidants and manganese. The latter is good for your bones, and processes the fats and carbohydrates that you consume into energy. Blueberries also lead to lower chances of mortality, heart disease, and obesity. They are powerhouses that can even help stop short-term memory loss.
We all know that oranges are good for us because they have Vitamin C, but what exactly does Vitamin C do for us? Most importantly, it helps keep our immune system strong and fights off everything from a virus, infection or cold. Oranges are your best bet for taking fewer sick days. Vitamin C also stops the formation of cancer in the body’s cells. Even your morning glass of orange juice counts: a vitamin pill doesn’t provide the same Vitamin C as orange juice. One orange is on par calorie-wise with blueberries at 85 calories.
Grapes contain a specific kind of antioxidant called flavonoids which help prevent aging-related issues. Grapes contain important micronutrients such as iron, copper, and manganese. The latter affects how your body processes protein, how your nervous system works, and how collagen forms. One cup of grapes is 62 calories with 176 milligrams of potassium. Grapes also contain Vitamins K which contribute to the wellbeing of your bones, and Vitamin C.
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As these five are the most popular fruits, you are most likely already eating them, but any of these make the perfect addition to your breakfast and morning or afternoon snack. Pack an orange in your purse or keep some bananas at your desk.