There is a big push to eat healthy these days. Low fat, low cal, low sugar, natural sugar, high fiber, high protein, holy cow! How on earth are you supposed to be able to sort all those “low this”s and “high that”s? Well, how about going back to the original natural sugar, the ultimate “high this low that food”: fruit. Fruit is not only a wonderful way to tame your craving for all things sweet, but many, some more than others pack a nutritional power punch! They’re full of nutrients, vitamins and antioxidants - essentially, all things good for you! Let’s take a look at some of the healthiest sweets nature has to offer - in no particular order!
Berries (Blue, Black, Rasp and Straw)
Berries protect against all types of cancer, stroke and heart disease with the antioxidant blend they offer - high in vitamin C. Blueberries also prevent Alzheimer's, high blood pressure, macular degeneration and brain damage. Just one cup of these super berries contains less than 100 calories (try 80!) and a whopping 4 grams of fiber! Strawberries have fewer calories, 1 cup is only 50 calories with the same amount of fiber but also fewer antioxidants. Raspberries have just a few more calories than strawberries - 60 for 1 cup - and twice the fiber - 8 grams. Blackberries come in the middle as far as calories go - 1 cup has 70ish calories, but has the most fiber by far: 10 grams per cup!
1 cup of these luscious little fruits holds about 90 calories, and a handful of iron, potassium, magnesium, several varieties of disease-fighting flavonoids, Vitamins C and E, folic acid and carotenoids, which protect your heart. Despite a lot of what cherries contain sounding a little scary and unpronounceable, cherries help arthritic and joint pains, swelling and inflammation, high cholesterol and aid in cancer prevention.
Though their more famous counterpart is the wine they produce, red grapes are rich in vitamins and minerals - potassium, iron, fiber, and like each fruit, has unique blend of antioxidants that your body just can’t get enough of! 1 cup has only 60 calories and each little bite helps to prevent cancer and heart disease.
This passion fruit sensation is only 55 calories a cup, and is packed full of all things healhy - Vitamin C, carotenoids, fiber and folic acid. They also contain a natural enzyme that aides in the digestion of protein.
Apples (skin on)
Apples not only provide a hearty sweet treat for under 100 calories, but they also rock 5 grams of fiber, pectin and a generous serving of disease fighting flavonoid antioxidents. Apples lower cholesterol, heart disease risks, stroke risks, cancers and regulate your digestive system. An apple a day really does keep the doctor away.
Bananas, like most fruits are low in calories. One banana has about 110 calories, depending on the size of course. Besides being oh-so-sweet-and-delicious, bananas have a hearty serving of potassium. Potassium helps with muscle function, helps avoid muscle cramps while working out, helps prevent strokes and reduces blood pressure. Bananas are also a bit more dense than a lot of fruits, making it a good fruit to eat when you are hungry.
One little kiwifruit has about 45 calories and 3 grams of fiber - that’s a ton of fiber for a fruit that small. It is also chocked full of all sorts of other good stuff - Vitamins C, E and A, and essential minerals like magnesium and, of course, potassium. This little fruit power packs your immune system and lowers your risk for respiratory diseases. This hairy little fruit really holds its own against some of its bigger competitors.
Cantaloupes, like bananas and apricots contain Vitamin C and Potassium. Half a cantaloupe has about 100 calories and contains 2 grams of fiber. This combination of diet friendly and antioxident boosted melon protects from cancer and cardiovascular diseases, reduces swelling and inflammation, gives your immune system a kick in the tail and helps prevent sunburns - yeah really!
Apricots are a very under appreciated super fruit. Their special blend of antioxidant vitamins A, C, E, fiber and potassium (like bananas) help prevent disease in your eyes and heart. They are also one of the best fruit warriors against skin cancer - and the best part? One apricot packs barely 20 calories!
Citrus Fruits (Lemons, Limes, Oranges and Grapefruits)
Everyone knows that citrus fruits have tons of vitamin C - which, of course is great for you. Lesser known, however, is that citrus fruits also contain valuable antioxidants like fiber and host a cocktail of other vitamins and minerals. Citrus fruits are proven to reduce blood pressure and cholesterol. They can also lower your risk for certain cancers. Best of all, these super flavorful fruits are low cal: 50 calories for half a grapefruit, 70 calories for a whole orange, and about 20 calories for a lemon or lime!
The Health Local Staff is a team of writers and experts dedicated to bringing you the latest health, nutrition and lifestyle information at www.healthlocal.ca.