Weighing your options: Are you making the best selections in the produce section?
Healthy eating is all about variety. The exact makeup of a healthy diet for you depends on a diversity of factors such as your age, gender, lifestyle, culture and dietary customs, as well as what food is available and affordable in your location.
“No matter the variety of foods you eat, healthy diets should try to incorporate five servings of fruit and vegetables each day, because studies have shown that this can improve overall health and lower the risk of serious health problems, such as obesity or type 2 diabetes,” says Rachel Lander-Canseco, RD, a registered dietitian at Keck Medicine of USC.
High-fiber diets that include many fruits may also help with weight management. Since fruit is high in water and fiber, but low in calories, eating them can help increase fullness, while reducing hunger and calorie intake.
“Don’t be afraid of the sugar in fruit — welcome it,” Lander-Canseco says. “For some reason, people think that because fruits are sweet that they’re off-limits,” she says. “Fruits are high in fiber, vitamins and minerals, so the benefits you get from them outweigh the glucose impact that you would get from say, bread, white flours or other carbohydrates.”
But remember, no one fruit or diet decision alone can make you lose weight.
“I would never suggest that someone who doesn’t like apples should eat apples because it will help you lose weight,” Lander-Canseco says.
When it comes to knowing what types of fruits to choose, diversity and overall enjoyment are the most important factors so that you can stick with maintaining a healthy diet.
“If you actually like the fruit you’re eating, you’re more likely to reach for it, when you need a snack, rather than a bag of chips or a high-fat snack,” Lander-Canseco says.
Eating fruits that are in season can also help maximize health benefits.
“When fruits are in season, they tend to have more concentrated sources of their benefits,” Lander-Canseco says. “So, the sugars, the vitamins, the minerals are higher in trace amounts when they are in their peak season. That’s also why they taste so good.”
Here are seven amazing fruits and their unique health benefits:
Because 90% of a watermelon’s weight is water, it’s one of the best fruits to eat if you’re trying to lose weight. A 100-gram serving contains only 30 calories. It’s also a great source of an amino acid called arginine, which has been shown to help burn fat quickly.
“In addition to helping the body stay hydrated, snacking on watermelon will help you feel full, so you won’t have cravings between meals,” Lander-Canseco says.
Guavas are a nutrient-packed, delicious, fiber-filled tropical fruit that helps satisfy the appetite. They contain zero cholesterol and have much less sugar compared to other fruits like apples, oranges and grapes.
“All fruits contain phytochemicals or phytonutrients, which are chemical components in food that we think have a protective or beneficial effect,” Lander-Canseco says. “All fruits have something like that to some extent. The phytochemicals in guavas have been shown to help reduce inflammation and prevent diabetes and cancer.”
This delicious fruit, which was first created by crossing a pomelo with an orange in the 18th century, is also a fantastic source of pectin, which has been shown to help prevent some cancers. It contains a great amount of vitamin C, folic acid and potassium. Pink and red grapefruits are packed with vitamin A and lycopene, which has been shown to help prevent chronic diseases, including diabetes and neurodegenerative and cardiovascular diseases.
“Color informs the benefits of different fruits,” Lander-Canseco says. “So, the more colorful your selection is overall, the more different benefits your body is going to get.”
“Considered the perfect pre- or post-workout snack, bananas are healthier than most energy bars, which often contain lots of sugar and chemicals,” Lander-Canseco says.
Although the average banana contains 27 grams of carbohydrates, this fruit can help stop weight gain, because it has only 105 calories and 3 grams of filling fiber. Bananas are also known to fight muscle cramps, keep blood pressure low and prevent acidity. Just try and stick to one banana a day.
Let’s not forget that the tomato is a fruit and not a vegetable. This powerful red ally is full of antioxidants and can help reduce water retention, making you feel less bloated.
Tomatoes also fight leptin resistance. Leptin is a hormone that signals to your brain that you are full, thereby helping control your appetite.
Plus, tomatoes are very low in calories. An average-sized tomato has just 22 calories, and a large one has 33 calories. Tomatoes are also considered an appetite-suppressant “high-volume” food, which means they have high amounts of water, air and fiber.
Eat the fruit you like in the portions you want, and don’t sweat the small stuff.Rachel Lander-Canseco, RD, a registered dietitian at Keck Medicine of USC
These fruits are small but mighty.
“Berries are usually on every weight management recommendation plan, because they are very low in sugar per gram,” Lander-Canseco says.
Berries also have been shown to help improve insulin resistance, which can lower your risk for diseases like diabetes.
7. Any other fruit you enjoy
“When it comes to losing weight, the best choices are the ones you can maintain,” Lander-Canseco says. “It should be evident, but you cannot just burn fat and shed weight by simply eating these fruits alone.”
The only way to lose weight is to burn more calories than you consume.
By exercising and consistently substituting high-calorie food, like cheese, meat or rice, with low-calorie fruits, like tomatoes, you will be able to achieve a healthy weight.
“Eat the fruit you like in the portions you want, and don’t sweat the small stuff,” Lander-Canseco says.