As the best source of natural sugar which the body needs for energy, fruit should be an essential part of everyone’s daily diet.  Packed with vitamins, minerals, phytonutrients and antioxidants, fruits are the best sources of vitamins from any of the food groups. 


While one can only guess as to when the first fruits were cultivated, it is easy to picture primitive people discovering the sweetness and pleasant texture of fruits.  Through the ages the best seeds were undoubtedly carefully stored and planted, with the best of a year’s crop donating the seeds and the means for continuing the plantings.

Today’s health care practitioners make use of scientific evidence which allows them to actually know why fruits are so good for the human body.   Of course, it helps that most fruits are low in calories, fat, and sodium, and no fruits contain cholesterol.

Nutritional Information

Fruits are packed with health-giving compounds such as vitamins, minerals, antioxidants and enzymes, all of which are critical for maintaining overall good health and wellness. 

Most fruits are fairly good sources of potassium, which helps the body to maintain a healthy blood pressure.  Sources include bananas, oranges, peaches, apricots, cantaloupe, prunes and prune juice and honeydew melon.

The fiber in fruits helps to reduce blood cholesterol levels and may also play a part in lowering the risk for heart disease.  Fiber is also essential for proper bowel functions.   Vitamin C is an important component for the repair and growth of body tissues, and most fruits are packed with this vitamin.  Folate content is yet another nutritional reason to eat lots of fruits.

Health Benefits

Consuming an adequate amount of fruits helps an individual to reduce the chances of coming down with heart disease and stroke.  Fruits also help to control cholesterol and blood pressure, prevent certain kinds of cancer, and assist in the fight against macular degeneration and cataracts, which are the two most common types of vision loss. 

Overall, fruits help the body to reduce health problems, stimulate memory and retard the aging process.

A 2001 study published in the British Medical Journal stated that people who frequently ate fresh fruits had a 32% lower risk of death due to cerebrovascular diseases such as strokes, as well as a 24% lower risk of dying from ischemic heart disease than those who ate one serving or less of fruit a day.

Below are some of the most common fruits and their known health benefits:

Apples -  Packed with fiber, apples are high in vitamins.  Apples are known to contain folate, as well as vitamins A, C, and E.  Whether apples are red, green or yellow, they all help reduce the risk of certain cancers, including colon cancer, prostate cancer and lung cancer.  Apples can also help to control cholesterol and heart disease and can be useful in weight loss.

Bananas -  One of the better sources of potassium, regular ingestion of bananas may also help to keep blood pressure low.  Bananas are also a good source of fiber, folate and vitamins A, C, and B6.

Blueberries – A great deal of research has been performed regarding the health benefits of blueberries, and they still come back with reports so glowing the results cannot be disputed.  This fruit seems to stimulate and contribute to increased brain function, allowing people to stay focused and “sharp.” Blueberries also protect against some types of cancer and heart disease.

Cherries – This fruit contains anthocyanins, which help to reduce inflammation and pain. 

Cranberries – This fruit (in its natural form) can help cure urinary tract infections.  Cranberries can also help to lower cholesterol and protect against stroke and cancer. 

Figs – Dried or fresh, figs contain folate, niacin and vitamins A and C. 

Kiwi – A good source of flavonoid antioxidants, kiwi fruit contains iron, folic acid, calcium, and vitamins A, C, E and B. 

Lime – Lime and lemon are the most cultivated of the citrus fruits and are packed with vitamins A and C, as well as folate.  Lime juice is also known to be good for detoxification and has antioxidant properties.

Oranges – Contain vitamin C and flavonoids,

Pineapple – This fruit is packed full of vitamin C and is also known to have excellent anti-inflammatory properties.   Pineapple can be an excellent choice for those suffering from chronic conditions such as arthritis.

Raspberries -  High in fiber, folic acid and vitamins A and C, raspberries also help fight cancer.

Strawberries – Packed with fiber, potassium, folic acid, and vitamin C, it is also believed that strawberries help to fight carcinogens that have found their way into the body.

Watermelon – Contains minerals, vitamins, as well as fiber and iron.

Cooking Tips

  • Fruits contain a great deal of water.  For individuals who know they do not drink enough water, eating fruits can aid in keeping the body hydrated.
  • Fruit is easily digested, requiring very little digestive enzymes.  Eat until full without worrying about stomach upset.
  • Fruit is alkaline-forming, whereas grains, legumes, fish, and meat are acid-forming. Round out the diet with fruits.
  • Most of the fruit consumed should be whole or cut up fresh fruit instead of fruit juices. 
  • Fruit that has been peeled and sliced needs to be refrigerated. 
  • When selecting fruits which are canned, try to choose fruits that are in 100% fruit juice or water instead of light or heavy syrup.
  • If convenience is important, buy pre-cut packages of fruits such as pineapple chunks or melon.  The healthiest packaged fruits will not contain added sugars. Dried fruits are healthy and make great on-the-go snacks.
  • Buy fruits when they are in season to save money.  Frozen or canned fruits are acceptable when a certain fruit is not in season.
  • To enhance a fruit’s taste or for a change of pace, try dipping chunks of fruit in low-fat yogurt.


  1. Holford, P. The optimum nutrition bible, Little Brown Group (2004)
  2. Holford, P & Lawson, S. Optimum Nutrition Made Easy How to achieve optimum health, Piatkus Books (2008)
  3. Murray, M.T. et al., Encyclopedia of healing foods, London : Piatkus (2005)
  4. The National Research Council. Recommended Dietary Allowances, 10th ed, National Academy of Sciences (1989)
  5. Werbach, M. Nutritional Influences on Illness, 2nd ed, Third Line Press (1993)


Types of Fruits


Avocado, or Persea Americana, is an oval or pear shaped fruit with a green, meaty flesh and large pit. They are typically used in salads, dips, and sandwiches; in fact, they offer a healthier alternative to butter, cream cheese, or other condiments on sandwiches. While the Guatemalan, or Haas, avocado is the most popular in the United States, there are two other types of avocados: West Indian and Mexican. Each avocado thrives in a different climate. Guatemalan avocados grow best in a cool, high-altitude tropical climate; Mexican avocados thrive in a Mediterranean climate; and West Indian avocados grow best in humid, tropical climates. Hybrids of all three of these types of avocados are also available.


The old adage to consume "an apple a day" is not a bad idea. Apples can help control diabetes, prevent constipation, lower the risk for heart disease and help to prevent cancer.


In recent years bananas have become one of the top choices for a fruit snack. Perhaps the banana's popularity has seen a huge increase because of the potassium contained in this delectable fruit. For busy individuals who want a "grab-and-go" snack for themselves for their children, bananas are the perfect choice.


Related to the orange, the grapefruit is a larger, round citrus fruit which was named for the way it grows - in clusters like grapes. Grapefruits are more tart and tangy than an orange with just a hint of sweetness. In Latin, the grapefruit's name translates to "paradise."


The juice of the lemon is mainly made up of sugars and citric "adds." While the outside peel contains several essential oils, the inner flesh is made up of derivatives of coumarin and glycosides. Many people believe all lemons have a sour flavor, but some varieties of the lemon are sweet, such as the Meyer lemon. The two most popular sour lemons are called Eureka and Lisbon.


While many citrus fruits come in different colors, the lime simply comes in green. This fruit has an oval or round shape and is one to two inches in diameter. Limes grow on trees that flourish in tropical and subtropical climates.


One of the most commonly purchased fruits in today's world is the orange. Just one orange can provide the minimum daily requirement of vitamin C with 65 mg, and one glass of orange juice contributes a tremendous 125 mg of this important vitamin. Oranges can fight cancer, stop inflammation and lower the risk for stroke and heart disease.


Watermelons can be a picnic delight. Composed of nearly all water and nutrients, this popular fruit is high in vitamin C, magnesium, potassium and beta-carotene. Because of its high water content watermelon is also known to be a diuretic.


The apricot is a round, small golden fruit with a velvety flesh and skin. Technically, the apricot is called "drupe," a fleshy, one-seeded fruit containing a seed enclosed in a stony pit.


Many people use the terms "muskmelon" and "cantaloupe" as if they are the same fruit, but they are not. True cantaloupe belong to the melon family cantalupensis and muskmelon to the variety called reticulatus. Both are round or oval in shape and grow on a trailing vine along the ground. This fruit can help reduce the risk for cancer, high blood pressure and heart disease. Cantaloupe can also help to prevent cataracts.

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