Summer is the best season to bite into fresh fruit from the market, but not all fruits are created equal. While grapefruit really is a healthy wonder food for dieting and getting vitamins, one mango contains 21 grams of sugar—and most are tainted by GMOs.
Substituting a diet of fruit and vegetables for one loaded with carbs like bread and pasta or processed foods will always be a better option, but of the fruit choices available, these 10 are more likely to make you healthier and help control your weight than others. Also, while not all of the 10 are found in the organic aisle—I’ve never seen a guava in one, for instance—many are, which makes them a healthier choice. Organic blueberries, strawberries, watermelon and raspberries are in most U.S. grocery stores. Other fruit, such as lemons and grapefruit, have thick peels that tend to protect the inside fruit from pesticide contamination.
Nothing says summer like lemons. Lemons contain Vitamin C, which wards off colds, infections and neutralizes free radicals, and their acids are alkaline-forming in the body, helping to restore balance to its PH. They also act as a cleansing agent, helping to stimulate the liver, dissolve uric acid and increase peristalsis in the bowels. The citric acid in lemons is known to dissolve gallstones, calcium deposits and kidney stones. Some people swear that drinking a cup of hot lemon water and honey each day keeps them from being sick, ever. Scientists have found that lemon juice has antibacterial properties, and can destroy the bacteria of malaria, cholera, diphtheria, typhoid and other deadly diseases. Lemon juice contains 22 anti-cancer compounds, including limonene, an oil that slows or stops the growth of tumors in animals. Lemon is low in sugar and a refreshing addition to cold water, helping to hydrate you in the summer. Lemon juice squeezed over cooked green vegetables gives them a zing. Lemonade, anyone?
Containing the potent antioxidant carotene, watermelon’s composition is 82% water—eating it is a natural way to hydrate. Also, its low sugar content and its propensity to lower blood pressure make it one of the most “relaxing” summertime fruit options you can choose. It has the highest lycopene level of any fruit or vegetable (even tomatoes), is rich in B vitamins, which give you energy, and has electrolytes sodium and potassium. Because it’s high in citruline, an amino acid that is involved in cooling the body, watermelon actually makes the outdoor heat during a picnic more bearable. Once you cut it up, it keeps well in the refrigerator for several days if it’s not already overripe. Watermelon fills you up without filling you out.
Like watermelon, they’re a low-sugar option, with only 2.7 grams in half a cup. They are full of fiber, which makes you feel full and less likely to gorge on that chocolate cake at the picnic. In fact, if you ate the half cup of raspberries instead of the cake, you’d be cutting your intake by several hundred calories. Calcium, potassium, lutein and zeaxanthin—which protects against macular degeneration—are among raspberries’ healthy benefits.
Their high anti-oxidant levels, paired with vitamins and a low glycemic index make them the ideal fruit for people with diabetes. Also, they’re delicious by themselves, in cereal or oatmeal or in fruit and vegetable salads. They make a great stand-alone snack, too.
Widely available where they are grown in South and Central America, guavas are bright pink fruit with a peach-like texture and a taste of their own that grows on you after you’ve eaten them a few times. They’re sweet without being too sugary. Researchers claim guavas prevent cancer, help improve eyesight and contribute to weight loss by curbing appetite.
The vitamin C is only part of the reason it’s a popular fruit—it’s also filling and is also said to spur weight loss, like guavas. How this works really isn’t clear, but because it’s really low in sugar, it’s a completely guilt-free snack or breakfast food.
Lovely to look at, strawberries are also one of the most nutritionally balanced fruits, with phenolic acid that regulates blood sugar. They’re good for any time of day, or for dessert.
Fiber, potassium, folate and vitamin C make the dark purple berries a great choice for your diet. While most people have only eaten them in pies, jams or jellies—and they are tangy and tart—they can be an excellent addition to breakfast cereal or in yogurt. Soft and juicy, they stain your hands, so if you eat them plain, use a spoon.
Low in sugar and heart healthy, blackberries have more of a pop than boysenberries. They’re better eaten as a snack or to liven up a fruit salad.
Whether juiced or cooked, cranberries are the low-sugar choice as a piquant fruit that contains phytonutrients, vitamin C and fiber. They’re a great color addition to any plate of vegetables and enhance white meat and fish.