Daily intake of fresh fruits and vegetables is an important dietary strategy to help maintain optimum health. Fresh fruits provide a plentiful supply of antioxidants and help avoid the blood sugar spikes that occur with dried or processed fruits. The low fiber content and added sugar of processed fruits and vegetables can also increase the risk of developing diabetes.
10 Healthiest Fruits
Fruits contain a wealth of health benefits and are excellent sources of vitamins and essential nutrients. Rich in antioxidants as well as vitamins A & C, eating fresh fruit can help combat heart disease, lower blood pressure and cholesterol and guard against vision deterioration.
- Apple. One apple contains only 75 calories and provides 3 grams of fiber. The antioxidant flavonoids contained in apples can help prevent diabetes and asthma. The consistency of apples makes them perfect for cleaning teeth and providing fresh breath. The apple skin is an excellent source of vitamins, so be sure to eat that part as well.
- Avocado. As one of the healthiest fruits, this fruit provides a healthy source of monounsaturated fats that help lower cholesterol levels. Use a slice or two of avocado as a butter replacement on your favorite sandwich. A whole avocado contains about 230 calories, 9 grams of fiber and plenty of folate and vitamin E. The fat content is perfect for developing brains and babies love the creamy soft consistency of ripe avocados.
- Banana. Rich in potassium, bananas are perfect to help lower blood pressure. Some swear that bananas also help reduce muscle cramps. One medium banana contains only 105 calories, 3 grams of fiber and is high in vitamin B6, potassium and folate. For those with latex allergies, be cautious as bananas and latex come from very similar tree types.
- Blueberry. This powerhouse is great fresh but also freezes well for later use. Every ½ cup contains only 41 calories, 1.5 grams of fiber and is rich in disease preventing antioxidant vitamins, which makes it become one of the healthiest fruits. In fact, blueberries are number one in antioxidant activity when compared to sixty other fruits and vegetables.
- Orange. Any brightly colored fruit or vegetable has the power to improve health. One orange contains 62 calories, 3 grams of fiber, plenty of vitamin C and is rich in folate and potassium. Folate is critical for pregnant women to ensure brain and nervous system development in the baby. Hesperiden is a powerful plant chemical (phytochemical) that can lower cholesterol and triglycerides.
- Kiwifruit. Kiwifruit is nutrient dense and contains a high content of both vitamin C and magnesium. These little green fruits also contain antimutagenic substances that are known to inhibit cancer genes. Two kiwifruits contain around 86 calories and 4.3 g of fiber.
- Grape. The power of grapes lies in the chemical resveratrol. This antioxidant has been shown to help prevent heart disease, decrease blood pressure and decrease the chance of developing blood clots. A serving of ½ cup contains just under 1 gram of fiber, 53 calories and is rich in manganese. Evidence suggests that resveratrol may also help stop the spread of certain cancers such as breast, colon or stomach cancer.
- Mango. With only 54 calories, ½ of a mango will provide 1.5 grams of fiber, vitamin A and also vitamin E. The antioxidants lutein and zeaxanthin can help prevent the age related vision deterioration known as macular degeneration.
- Papaya. This fruit is rich in the digestive enzyme papain that helps in digestion processes. The rich supply of vitamin A also helps keep the skin healthy. Cut a papaya in half and enjoy plenty of folate, vitamin A & C and only 59 calories. The fiber content is a healthy 3 grams per serving. The seeds are edible as well and are a perfect addition to a salad dressing.
- Strawberry. Balsamic vinegar draws out the flavor of strawberries and serving the two together with a scoop of low fat ice cream provides a healthy treat. A single ½ cup of this delicious berry is only 23 calories and provides 1.5 grams of fiber along with vitamin C.
10 Healthiest Vegetables
The fiber, antioxidants, vitamins and minerals found in vegetables make them the perfect way to improve your health, boost immunity and longevity and have more energy.
- Tomato. All tomato-based foods are rich in the cancer fighting substance known as lycopene. This red gem of a vegetable is full of vitamins A through K and provides the nutrition to power many processes throughout the body. Eating tomatoes is a perfect way to reduce blood pressure and fight free radicals.
- Broccoli. The benefits of eating broccoli are widespread and can boost your immunity, help fight common colds and illness and decrease the risk of certain cancers such as lung, rectal and stomach cancer. This green powerhouse is rich in beta-carotene, folate and vitamin C.
- Brussels sprout. This vegetable is high in folic acid, vitamins C and K as well as omega-3 fatty acids. Pregnant women can help reduce the risk of neural tube defects by adding Brussels sprouts to the diet. They are also rich in potassium, fiber and B vitamins.
- Carrot. The high beta-carotene content gives carrots their powerful antioxidant effect. They are also rich in vitamin C and help protect the eyesight, skin and cardiovascular system from free radical damage.
- Squash. This vegetable is also rich in beta-carotene and helps treat arthritis, asthma and other conditions that cause inflammation in the body. Squash is high in vitamin C and beta-carotene as well as potassium, fiber and magnesium.
- Sweet Potato. The manganese and antioxidant vitamins found in this root make it ideal as an anti-cancer food source. Sweet potatoes also contain iron for developing healthy red blood cells and improving energy. The high fiber content helps regulate the digestive tract as well.
- Eggplant. Research evidence notes that eating eggplant may reduce the risk of stroke and dementia. The nasunin contained in eggplants is a potent antioxidant and is felt to protect the brain from age related damage. The fiber and potassium content also helps with blood pressure and to regulate the digestive system.
- Bell Pepper. These beautifully colored vegetables are rich in lycopene and folic acid. Evidence shows that regular consumption of Bell peppers can decrease the risk for getting pancreatic, lung, colon and bladder cancer.
- Spinach. The health benefits of spinach are legendary. Almost every vitamin is found in this leafy green vegetable and it may help prevent colon cancer, heart disease and bone and joint problems.
- Onion. Calcium loss results in osteoporosis and onions can help slow thisprocess. The substance, GPCS, is a protein found in onions that helps this process and also fights diabetes and heart disease. Onions are also rich in folate and vitamin C.