Fruit sometimes gets a bad rap, depending on the fad diet of the day. There are even some who would tell you to steer clear of the food group altogether, with claims that its sugar content outweighs its nutritional benefits. But what’s the real truth about fruit? Is it bad for you? Good for you?
The answer to these questions is: it depends. (Of course!) There are a wide variety of fruits out there, ranging from fresh grocery-store picks to exotic finds – and each has its own, unique nutrition profile. Add to that the fact that fruit comes in many forms, not just in its raw, natural state. With all of this, there’s a lot to consider, so I’ll help identify some of the best and worst fruits for you in terms of nutrition.
Avocados – One of the best fruits isn’t often recognized for being a fruit at all. But technically avocados are a fruit, and a really good one at that. They are full of vitamins and minerals and are basically the only fruit with heart-healthy monounsaturated fat.
Berries – Whether fresh or frozen, berries are dense in nutrients, and high in fiber and antioxidants. Plus, they already come bite sized, making them convenient to keep on hand for snacking.
Apples – Also high in vitamins and fiber, apples are actually known for “keeping the doctor away.” And while there’s no scientific proof that an apple a day actually does this, a scientific study did actually show that people who consume apples regularly take fewer prescription medications than those who don’t.
The Not-So Good
Grapes, Mangoes, and Figs – While these choices are certainly better alternatives to, let’s say, chocolate cake, these fruits are exceptionally high in sugars. Still, they do offer nutritional benefits and can be consumed in moderation, especially when eaten in place of fatty foods high in processed sugar.
Coconut – Though coconut is certainly having its day, with a variety of coconut-based products coming to market seemingly every day, this fruit is high in saturated fat, sugar, and calories.
Processed Fruit – If you think you’re getting fruit when you eat fruit-flavored yogurt, think again. The fruit in products like these is so highly processed that very little nutrition remains. You’re much better off choosing plain or Greek yogurt and adding fresh fruit to it.
Dried and Canned Fruit – These options may be convenient, but they are inferior in nutrition. Dried fruits are often coated in sugar, and both dried and canned fruits are treated with chemicals to improve shelf life. Pick fresh or frozen instead.
Keeping these things in mind, you likely can enjoy fruit, any fruit, as part of a balanced diet. And because so many so-called diet experts and fad diet plans disagree on what, if any, fruits are good to consume, it’s important to get your doctor’s advice if you have questions. Kelsey-Seybold offers dietitian and nutrition services – and your primary care physician can also discuss healthy food choices with you based on your unique health needs.
Dr. Yakoob is a board-certified Internal Medicine physician at Kelsey-Seybold’s Cypress Clinic. She’s a tireless proponent for preventive care and helps her patients make informed decisions about their health as well as quality of life improvements.