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They’re here! Both the Summer Olympics with athletes who’ve been waiting and training for the last four years, and the summer’s best fruits and vegetables. Which fruits are best for your health and weight? Here’s our ranking for placement in our summer meals and snacks. We welcome them both!
Good news! Although the world will enthusiastically watch to see who our gold medal athletes will be this summer in Brazil, the testing and research has been done on the best performing fruits. You don’t need to have them endorsed on a cereal box for them to immediately improve your own health and performance levels. More good news about summer fruit is that it’s readily available, affordable and so delicious eaten fresh, rather than dried or in a juice (as we do in other seasons of the year) which concentrates the sugar content in quantum leaps.
Health Fact: Not all fruits and vegetables are of equal value as far as nutrition and weight management. It seems the Lord had the “opposition” principle in mind even when it came to the garden, and with the facts in mind, we can each choose what is best for our own health needs. (Please don’t get too carried away with this perspective, but it is interesting to ponder!)
For it must needs be, that there is an opposition in all things. If not so, my firstborn in the wilderness, righteousness could not be brought to pass, neither wickedness, neither holiness nor misery, neither good nor bad. Wherefore, all things must needs be a compound in one; …
(II Nephi 2:11)
Health Fact: Even a vegetarian, whole foods plant based lifestyle must nod its head to the truth that fruits, though delicious and nutritious, are loaded with calories and fructose. For those who want to lose weight, fruit takes second place to veggies.
Health Fact: Fruit is healthy and delicious. Keep enjoying it! Just because a fruit is more sugary than you’d expect doesn’t mean it’s comparable to eating candy. Fruits are filled with a variety of vitamins and nutrients that make them much healthier than candy. Plus, diets filled with fruits provide many health benefits.
Why Fruit Might Hinder Weight Loss
From Dr. Mike Roussell at Shape.com: “Fruit is high in the simple sugar fructose, which is the main reason why many people trying to lose weight remove it from their diet. Unlike glucose, the most common simple sugar that’s sent to your muscles, brain, and other organs for them to use as energy, fructose is only processed by your liver. Why is that bad? If your liver already has ample energy, there is a higher likelihood that your liver will repackage the excess fructose as fat, saving it for use at a later time. While this is a biochemical truth, its impact on your waistline is blown out of proportion, especially when you consider that fruit isn’t even one of the hidden top five sources of fructose in the American diet. The big five that seem and are often promoted as safe healthy are filled to the brim with sugar are fruit drinks, breakfast cereals, bread, condiments and yogurt.”
So which fruits take home medals for best fruits for highest nutrient and lowest sugar? While I’m only one judge on the panel, these are my winners:
GOLD! Berries, especially raspberries and blueberries (Mind you, we’re talking eating them fresh and not in a gooey dessert.) Those rich, vibrant, vital colors are loaded with nutrients that fuel rich, vibrant, vital health.
Raspberries: What makes this fruit stand out? Raspberries are often touted for their anti-cancer benefits. This is due to their antioxidant and anti-inflammatory phytonutrients. In studies involving breast, cervical, colon, esophageal and prostate cancers, raspberry phytonutrients have been shown to play an important role. Raspberries can lower oxidative stress, reduce inflammation, and even slow down the development or reproduction of cancer cells.
New research is now showing raspberries may also be able to change the signals that are sent to potential or existing cancer cells. In studies involving breast, cervical, colon, esophageal and prostate cancers, raspberry phytonutrients have been shown to play an important role. Raspberries can lower oxidative stress, reduce inflammation, and even slow down the development or reproduction of cancer cells.
New research is now showing raspberries may also be able to change the signals that are sent to potential or existing cancer cells.
Blueberries: What makes this fruit stand out? Rich in powerful polyphenol compounds, blueberries have been shown to uniquely protect the brain against harmful neurodegenerative factors such as free radicals, radiation, inflammation and excitotoxicity.
Blueberries may even reverse age-related shortfalls in cognitive and motor function. Scientists have noted that blueberry compounds are readily absorbed into the bloodstream, then cross into the brain where they influence regions involved in memory and motor function. This suggests many potential benefits in preventing Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s.
SILVER! Small fruits such as small apples, plums and kiwi are superstars for health, simply because of their pre-measured size. Like compact, musclebound young female gymnasts, what you see is what you get. A fist-sized apple or peach, or 2-3 kiwis or plums is a ready-made serving and the best way to minimize your sugar intake is to be mindful of your portion size. With these fruits Mother Nature has kindly packaged them for us! Eating just one or two leave us satisfied. It’s easy to go overboard on cherries or grapes, which though nutritious, are easy to eat a lot of unless you take the effort to measure out a healthy, single-sized portion.
BRONZE! Peaches! While these juicy, fuzzy fruits have about 13 grams of sugar per cup, they also have 3 grams of fiber to help your body use the sugar more efficiently. They are also loaded with vitamins like A, C, and E, and antioxidants that help fight disease and slow aging. They’re also “prepackaged’ but keep in mind that fist-sized peach is one serving.
Disappointed that watermelon, one of summer’s most popular healthy fruit treats didn’t make it? Watermelon is very high in sugar, but it is also high in nutrients, so no need to eliminate it from you summer entirely.
Watermelon is high in Vitamin C, but it gets the judges’ best scores for lycopene. What is lycopene? In simple terms, it’s what makes watermelon red! Lycopene is a carotenoid, a natural color pigment. It is only in the last decade that lycopene has become widely recognized as a potential protector against the risk of certain types of cancer and cardiovascular diseases. One of the more unusual aspects of watermelon is its rich supply of the amino acid, citrulline. Citrulline is an amino acid that is commonly converted by our kidneys and other organ systems (including cells that line our blood vessels) into arginine (another amino acid).
While we could write a book about the health benefits of summer fruit and document the scientific merits of each, I believe that fabulous summer fruit “in the season thereof” it is our Heavenly Father’s way of saying “Enjoy life! Enjoy food! Choose wisely and enjoy the treats that I have created for you.”
Who could ask for anything more?
Carolyn Allen is the Author of 60 Seconds to Weight Loss Success, One Minute Inspirations to Change Your Thinking, Your Weight and Your Life, available HERE. She has been providing mental and spiritual approaches for weight loss success both online and in the Washington, DC community since 1999 presenting for Weight Watchers, First Class, Fairfax County Adult Education and other community groups. She and her husband Bob are the parents of five children and grandparents of ten. They are now happy empty nesters in Jackson Tennessee, close to Memphis where they center their online business and Carolyn serves in the Primary Presidency.