Fruit 411

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Everyone knows that fruit is good for you. However, very few of us know why certain fruits can prevent or treat specific diseases, illnesses or ailments. I know that “an apple a day keeps the doctor away” – but why? My curiosity has once again gotten the better of me so I decided to research the health benefits of a broad spectrum of fruits. Most, if not all, of these fruits can be found year round at your local supermarket.

Apple – The skin of an apple has a high amount of fiber – to lower cholesterol and keep you regular. It also contains quercetin that can protect you from heart disease and possibly allergic reactions. Apples contain antioxidants that may help lower the chance of developing diabetes and asthma.

Apricots contain lycopene which protects your eyes and prevent heart disease and skin cancer.

Bananas have more potassium than most fruit and may help lower blood pressure levels, reduce your risk of stroke and improve muscle function. They also are a great source of resistant starch – a healthy carb that fills you up and helps boost your metabolism. All the fiber in bananas helps to restore normal bowel function.

Blackberries help reduce the risk of stroke and cancer.

Blueberries are the top choice for antioxidants – which prevent cancer and macular degeneration. Blueberries are great for brain function and memory and may help lower the risk of developing Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s. They also contain a good amount of manganese – which assists in your metabolism. Blueberries have even been shown to prevent Urinary Tract Infections.

Cantaloupe is high in beta-carotene, which may help reduce the risk of developing cataracts.  The Vitamin A in cantaloupes make it a great for your skin as it boosts cell reproduction, making it a natural exfoliator. Cantaloupe can help reduce inflammation, prevent cancer and cardiovascular disease, boost immunity and help protect your skin from sunburn.

Cherries contain more of the antioxidant anthocyanin than any other fruit. Anthocyanin may help reduce inflammation and ease the pain of arthritis and even lower cholesterol levels and reduce your risk of cancer.

Cranberries are antibacterial so they can help treat and prevent urinary tract infections, prevent kidney stones and ulcers. They may slow the growth of some cancer cells.

Dragon fruit – These fruits aren’t scary at all as it turns out! They have a ton of essential fatty acids, which we need but can’t be made by our body. These essential fatty acids lower bad cholesterol and raise good cholesterol.

Grapes – Red grapes, like red wine, contain resveratrol, an antioxidant that may lower your risk of heart disease and cancer.

Grapefruit -Pink grapefruit contain lycopene and flavonoids, which may help protect against some types of cancer and have been shown to reduce cholesterol. It may also improve your metabolism.

Guavas – help treat high blood pressure, colds, constipation and diarrhea.

Kiwis have more vitamin C than oranges and help in the development and maintenance of bones, cartilage, teeth and gums. They can also help lower your risk of heart disease and of cataracts. They have also been shown to boost the immune system and prevent the effects of asthma and reduced coughing and wheezing. They also might help reduce the occurrence of colon cancer.

Mangoes are high in the antioxidants lutein and zeaxanthin, which may help protect vision and reduce the risk of age-related macular degeneration

Oranges – We know oranges are a good source of vitamin C. But they also are good sources of potassium and folate – an important vitamin for pregnant women that can help prevent neural tube defects.

Papayas are a good source of folate and contain papain, an enzyme that aids digestion. Plus, their high vitamin A content aids in maintaining the health of the skin. This vitamin A coupled with vitamin E may help protect against heart disease and colon cancer.

Peaches regulate the immune system and help to fight off infections.

Pears can help prevent constipation, reduce blood cholesterol levels and prevent heart disease.

Pineapple contains a natural enzyme called bromelain, which helps digestion and may also help prevent blood clots, inhibit growth of cancer cells and speed wound healing.

Plums contain an antioxidant called chlorogenic acid which may decrease anxiety.

Pomegranates promote normal blood pressure levels and reduce the risk of heart attacks. They also help reduce the effects of arthritis and have the ability to treat erectile dysfunction.

Prunes don’t just act as a natural laxative. They are also a source of boron which may help prevent osteoporosis.

Pumpkins are loaded with beta-carotene, which combined with potassium may help to prevent high blood pressure.

Raspberries are rich in antioxidants that may help prevent and treat esophageal, cervical and colon cancer.

Strawberries are loaded with antioxidants that have anti-inflammatory properties to slow down the growth of cancerous tumors.

Tomatoes are a great source of lycopene, a potent antioxidant that may reduce cholesterol and protect against advanced-stage prostate cancer.

Watermelon has twice as much lycopene than a tomato!

So there you have it! The A-Z (ok only to W and missing a few letters but…) of fruits that not only are deliciously, naturally sweet, but are super good for you! I am pleased to know that you don’t have to break the bank to get antioxidant loaded fruits. I was surprised to learn that cantelopes, apples, watermelon and kiwis were such powerhouses!

Please note, that the information I have provided is based on my own research. I am not a doctor, nutritionist or dietician nor an expert in the field. If you have specific questions about your health and which fruits may be best for you, please consult your health professional. All I can do is share what I have learned and hope to inform and inspire you to learn more about how to improve your health to make today a happier and healthier YOU!

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