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Five fruits you should be eating


St. Joseph News-Press (MO)

07-30-13

July 30--An apple a day may keep the doctor away, but these fruits do a lot of good, too. Sarah Wood, a registered dietitian with Heartland Health's Wellness Connections, helped break down which fruits pack the most nutrients per bite.

The good news? No matter what, you can't pick wrong.

"There's no fruit I would say, 'I wouldn't eat that,'" Wood says.

Just make sure that you aim for a variety of colors. The more color a fruit or vegetable has, the more nutrients you'll find, Wood says.

Berries

"Berries are super high in nutrients and cancer-fighting antioxidants," Wood says.

Deep red, blue and purple berries have antioxidants called anthocyanins. Research from the National Institutes of Health shows that anthocyanins function as an anti-inflammatory agent. The phytochemical also protects against DNA damage.

Though acai berries have gotten a lot of health acclaim in recent years, the less exotic cranberries, blueberries and blackberries all carry good-for-you nutrients as well, Wood says.

Tomatoes

Next time you order a hamburger, make sure you get a tomato on it. Tomatoes contain good-for-you phytochemicals called carotenoids, which give the fruit its red coloring.

The carotenoids are also antioxidants, which means they'll help fight inflammation and the breakdown of cells.

One of the most important carotenoids that tomatoes carry is lycopene. Research shows that lycopene can reduce the risk of heart disease and cancer. The Mayo Clinic also links lycoepene to a reduced chance of macular degeneration.

Bananas

Bananas pack a lot of other nutrients. The fruit has, on average, 3.1 grams of dietary fiber, a necessary nutrient for bowel health, as well as 17 percent of your recommended vitamin C intake.

"Bananas are great for potassium, especially for athletes," Wood says.

After a workout, the potassium can help boost recovery time.

The fruit also includes vitamin B6 intake. The vitamin helps build antibodies, maintain nerve function and stabilize blood sugar.

Avocados

There's a reason avocados are often touted as a superfood. The green fruit contains a high amount of dietary fiber and monounsaturated fat and a low amount of sugar (about 1 gram per serving).

Good-for-you unsaturated fats can improve your cholesterol numbers, which in turn reduces the risk of heart disease. Unsaturated fats also can help with growth and development in the body and brain function.

Oranges

On top of the high amounts of vitamin C, which serves as an anti-inflammatory, oranges contain beta carotene.

Mayo Clinic research indicates that beta carotene boosts the body's immune system and can help reduce the risk of several types of cancers, including stomach and lung.

Oranges contain calcium, vitamin B6 and magnesium as well.

Jennifer Gordon can be reached at jennifer.gordon@newspressnow.com. Follow her on Twitter: @SJNPGordon.

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