Fruits are a complex combination of fiber, vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and phytonutrients that work in combination to provide protective benefits for a person’s health.   Most fruits are naturally low in fat, sodium, and calories, none have cholesterol.  The USDA recommends that adults consume 1½ to 2 cups of fruit per day.  Many fruits are seasonal, so frozen fruits offer an equally nutritious option.  This is because the fruits are picked and frozen immediately, retaining much of their nutrient value.  The following is a list of the most popular fruits found in typical produce departments and some of their nutritional benefits.

Why This Matters:

Fruits provide important nutrients including vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and fiber.  They are low-calorie, low-fat, low-sodium, and excellent for snacks.  Every variety of fruit has a unique flavor and nutrition profile and may only be available during certain times of the year.  Store staff should be familiar with these fruits and the nutritional contributions to a healthy diet. 

Apple – Rich with antioxidants called flavonoids, which may help lower the chance of developing diabetes and asthma, and fiber. Apples are also a natural mouth freshener and clean your teeth with each crunchy bite.   An apple's flavor and aroma come from fragrance cells in apple skin, along with the vitamins, which lie just beneath the skin.  Apples are best eaten without peeling.

Avocado – Yes, it’s a fruit!  Avocados contain healthy monounsaturated fats that can help lower cholesterol levels when eaten instead of harmful saturated fats.  They are a good source of fiber, Vitamin E, and folate.

Banana – Bananas have 422 milligrams of potassium per banana, more potassium than most fruit, which may help lower blood pressure levels.  Bananas are the number one selling fruit in the United States.

Blueberry – Blueberries are native to North America.  Recent studies suggest that blueberries can improve memory in older adults; other research has linked them with protection against heart disease and cancer, and with improved blood sugar control.  They are considered a “superfruit” due to their high anthocyanin content contained in the deep blue skins, and their use in juices and other natural products.

Cantaloupe - Cantaloupe is high in the antioxidant beta-carotene, which may help reduce the risk of developing cataracts. Cantaloupe is a perfect diet food since it has about half the calories of most other fruits.  Since bacteria can grow on the outside rind, it is important to wash cantaloupe before cutting into it. 

Blackberry – Also considered a “superfruit” due to the deep purple color 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.  The ancient Greeks called blackberries "gout-berries" and used them to treat gout-related symptoms.

Cherry – Colors include black, red, and white; two main types, sour and sweet.  Black cherries are native to eastern North America.  Cherries are a good source of antioxidant phytonutrients; traditional usage in arthritis and gout relief supported by studies; may also boost muscle recovery after exercise.

Cranberry – Found in cool, boggy areas throughout the Northern Hemisphere.  Helps keep bacteria from adhering to cells lining the urinary tract and gums; studies have found evidence of heart-protective and anti-inflammatory properties

Fig (Dried) - A great source of soluble fibre, minerals including potassium, calcium, magnesium, iron, and copper, and antioxidant vitamins A, E and K.  Figs are the fruit of the ficus tree, which is part of the mulberry family.  Fresh figs are delicate and perishable, so are often dried to preserve. There are multiple different varieties of fig, all of which vary widely in colour and texture.

Grape – Dozens of varieties available in white, red, or black.  Grapes are native to Asia, Europe, and North America.  Contains resveratrol, believed to mimic the anti-aging effects of a calorie-restricted diet and noted for protecting the cardiovascular system; may help protect against cancer.

Grapefruit – Pink grapefruit contains lycopene and flavonoids, which may help protect against some types of cancer. Grapefruit also boasts an ample supply of pectin, a soluble fiber that may help lower cholesterol levels.  Grapefruit can also heighten the effect of certain pharmaceutical drugs, including cholesterol-lowering statins.  Customers who are taking medications are advised to speak to their doctor or pharmacist to see if grapefruit interferes with their medications. 

Kiwifruit – Kiwi are a source of Vitamin E, magnesium, and potassium and have more Vitamin C than oranges.  Kiwis can help in the development and maintenance of bones, cartilage, teeth, and gums. They can also help lower blood triglyceride levels (high triglycerides increase the risk of heart disease).

Mango – Mangoes are a low-fat, low-calorie, cholesterol-free source of vitamins A, B, and C, dietary fiber, antioxidant compounds, and minerals including copper, potassium, and magnesium.  These nutrients help fight cancer, reduce cholesterol, help control diabetes, boost the immune system, benefit skin, and help protect the eyes.

Orange – Oranges are a good source of folate, an important vitamin for pregnant women that can help prevent neural tube defects in their infants. They also contain a phytochemical called hesperidin, which may lower triglyceride and blood cholesterol levels.  They are also high in potassium.

Papaya – Papayas contain papain, an enzyme that aids digestion. They also have a high Vitamin A content which aids in maintaining the health of the skin.   The black seeds inside the papaya are edible and have a sharp, spicy flavor.

Peach – Peaches are high in Vitamin A which helps regulate the immune system and can help fight off infections.

Pear – Pears have a high content of soluble fiber, which can help prevent constipation.  Soluble fiber may also help reduce blood cholesterol levels and prevent heart disease.   Unlike most other fruits, pears don't ripen well on the tree so they are harvested when mature and are allowed to finish ripening under controlled conditions.

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

Prune – Prunes are dried plums.  They are a source of the mineral boron, which may help prevent osteoporosis.  Prunes also impart a mild laxative effect due to their high content of a natural sugar called sorbitol, so they are frequently used to relieve constipation and maintain digestive regularity.

Raspberries – There are red, black, and yellow berries that consist of small seed-bearing sacs and are native to North America.  High in Vitamin C, manganese, and fiber, along with B vitamins, magnesium and potassium; has shown an ability to fight cancer and high blood pressure in laboratory research.

Strawberries – Strawberries are rich in several antioxidants that have anti-inflammatory properties, including helping to prevent atherosclerosis (hardened arteries) and to suppress the progression of cancerous tumors.

Watermelon – Watermelon is 92% water.   It's a great addition to any weight-loss diet because it is low in calories and satisfies the sweet tooth.  Watermelon rinds and seeds are both edible. Roasted, seasoned seeds make a great snack food, and the juicy rind can be stir-fried, stewed, or pickled.

 

Words to Remember

FLAVONOIDS

Flavonoids are compounds found in fruits, vegetables, and certain beverages that have beneficial antioxidant effects. Over 4,000 flavonoids have been identified, many of which occur in fruits, vegetables, tea, coffee, beer, wine, and certain fruit drinks. These flavonoids have been reported to have antiviral, anti-allergic, antiplatelet, anti-inflammatory, and antitumor benefits.