Few things compare to the sweetness of fresh-picked strawberries or the luscious first bite of watermelon that leaves juice dripping down your chin.
Fruits are not only delicious but healthful too. Rich in vitamins A and C, plus folate and other essential nutrients, they may help prevent heart disease and stroke, control blood pressure and cholesterol, prevent some types of cancer and guard against vision loss. They're so good for you that Health Canada recommends that most women get seven or eight servings of fruit and vegetables each day.
If it's the vitamins that promote good health, you may wonder if you can just pop supplements. Nope. Sun-drenched peaches and vine-ripened grapes contain more than just vitamins; they're a complex combination of fibre, minerals, antioxidants and phytochemicals – as well as the vitamins – that work in combination to provide protective benefits. You can't get all that from a pill.
All fruits offer health benefits, but the following 25 stand out as nutrient-dense powerhouses with the most disease-fighting potential. (Note: Only the best sources of each vitamin, mineral and antioxidant are listed in the "nutritional value" section.)
• Nutritional value (1 medium): 75 calories, 3 g fibre
• Disease-fighting factor: Apples contain antioxidants called flavonoids, which may help lower the chance of developing diabetes and asthma. Apples are also a natural mouth freshener and clean your teeth with each crunchy bite.
• Did you know? An apple's flavour and aroma comes from fragrance cells in apple skin, so for maximum flavour, don't peel your apple. Plus, the vitamins lie just beneath the skin.
• Nutritional value ( ½ avocado): 114 calories, 4.5 g fibre, source of vitamin E and folate
• Disease-fighting factor: Avocados contain healthy monounsaturated fats that can help lower cholesterol levels when eaten instead of harmful saturated fats. For a heart-healthy boost, replace butter with avocado on your favourite sandwich.
• Did you know? Babies love avocados. Their soft, creamy texture makes them easy to eat, and their high fat content helps with normal infant growth and development.
• Nutritional value (1 medium): 105 calories, 3 g fibre, source of vitamin B6, potassium and folate
• Disease-fighting factor: With 422 milligrams of potassium per banana, these sweet delights have more potassium than most fruit and may help lower blood pressure levels.
• Did you know? People with rubber latex allergies may also be allergic to bananas since the two come from similar trees and share a common protein.
• Nutritional value (1/2 cup/125 mL): 31 calories, 4 g fibre, rich in antioxidants
• Disease-fighting factor: Blackberries get their deep purple colour from the powerful antioxidant anthocyanin, which may help reduce the risk of stroke and cancer. Studies show that blackberry extract may help stop the growth of lung cancer cells.
• Did you know? The ancient Greeks called blackberries "gout-berries" and used them to treat gout-related symptoms.
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