10 Superfruits to Eat for Better Health
By LEA BASCH
If you're following a low-carb or low-glycemic diet, you've probably been told to limit fruit in general. Although all fruits contain healthy nutrients, some have a lower glycemic load than others, so they'll be lower in carbs and have a smaller impact on blood sugar. Some of the lowest-glycemic fruits are lime, lemon, strawberry, cherry and grapefruit. Other low-glycemic fruits are pear, cantaloupe, watermelon, orange, apricot, peach, plum, apple and kiwi.
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Most fruits provide fiber, vitamins, minerals and rich phytonutrients, but some are considered "superfruits" because of the combinations that they contain. Here are 10 that you can easily add to your diet today:
1. Strawberries provide vitamin C, antioxidants and folic acid and are one of the lowest-glycemic foods out there.
2. Raspberries are high in fiber (eight grams per cup), antioxidants and ellagic acid, which is a phytochemical with cancer-prevention properties.
3. Blueberries are also high in antioxidants and, like most berries, are lower in carbs and calories than other types of fruit. Blueberries also aid in healthy memory function.
4. Cherries are a good source of vitamin C and fiber, but they stand out in the nutrition arena because they contain the anti-inflammatory antioxidant anthocyanin, which is the source of its deep-red color. Studies show that they also help to lower triglycerides and cholesterol and are a great anti-inflammatory, good for reducing arthritis, gout, inflammation and pain.
5. Apples are a great fiber source and contain quercetin, an antioxidant that packs antihistamine and anti-inflammatory power. My favorites are honeycrisps and Granny Smiths.
6. Kiwi has recently been lauded for helping digestive issues. The small black seeds contain insoluble fiber, aiding in regularity and digestion, while the green pulp is a source of soluble and prebiotic fiber. It can also help with weight loss by providing the feeling of fullness that comes with eating fiber.
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7. Acai is a South American fruit that is high in antioxidants that help defend the body against free radicals. Acai has been touted to treat weight loss, aging, arthritis, inflammation, heart disease and cancer. But keep in mind, there are no conclusive studies on these claims to date.
Acai is usually found in juice form, frozen pulp or dried in order to preserve its high antioxidant qualities before being transported abroad. I prefer frozen pulp since juice doesn't contain any fiber, and both juice and dried fruit are concentrated in carbs and calories.
8. Watermelon contains about 40 calories per cup and packs a punch of vitamins C and A, as well as lycopene, an antioxidant that is responsible for the red color in many fruits and vegetables.
10. Plums (and prunes) help with digestive regularity. They also contain an antioxidant called chlorogenic acid, a phenol that has anticancer and antioxidant effects.
Each of these fruits contains its own mix of vitamins, minerals, phytonutrients and antioxidants, so the best thing would be to include a variety in your summer diet. And remember, as an added bonus, eating local fruits in season reduces your carbon footprint, so don't forget to shop at your local farmers market.
Readers -- What are your favorite fruits to eat in the summer that aren't mentioned above? What kinds of fruits do you eat in other seasons? How else do you get fruits into your diet? Leave a comment below and let us know.
Lea Basch, M.S., RD, is the registered dietitian for The Tasteful Pantry. Lea has been in the nutrition industry for more than 30 years and was one of the founders of Longmont United Hospital's nutrition program in Boulder, Colorado. She is a diabetes educator and focuses now on gluten-free diets and food intolerances. Lea's passion is combining the science of nutrition with the heart that it takes to change lifelong habits.