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The Secret Health Benefits of Five Classic Fruits

By Edited Jul 4, 2015 2 1

Fruits are both delicious and nutritious. But for some reason, many people find themselves constantly telling themselves, “I should really start eating more fruit.” Fruits go bad quickly, and it can be difficult to justify buying a bunch of bananas after having thrown out dozens of rotten, uneaten bunches over the course of a lifetime. Knowing the health benefits of some of the most readily available fruits in the U.S. may make you think twice about your snack purchases next time you’re at the grocery store. 

1. Apples

Despite their purported doctor-repellence, apples are often left uneaten at the bottom of lunch sacks across the country before being tossed in the trash. Apples are delicious and refreshing, but they are also extremely common and can be easily ignored. However, these ordinary pieces of fruit pack some extraordinary health benefits.

First, the basics:  Apples are a great source of water, fiber, vitamins (riboflavin, thiamin, C), and minerals (calcium, potassium, phosphorus). Eating them promotes good dental health, scrubbing loose tarter from your teeth. They’re fat free, sodium free, and cholesterol free. These benefits have been widely espoused by nutritionists for decades. But apples also have some secret benefit that researchers are only now beginning to identify.

Apples contain a flavor compound known as phloridzin. This compound is not found naturally in other fruits, and its ingestion has been linked to increased bone density among test subjects.

Apples contain another compound known as quercetin. This compound has been shown to improve neurological function in test subjects. Regular ingestion of apples has also been linked to decreased onset of symptoms associated with Alzheimer’s disease according to a study conducted by researchers at Cornell University. Cornell researchers also isolated compounds known as triterpenods from apples. These compounds have demonstrated some capacity to fight a variety of forms of cancer, including breast, liver, and colon cancers.


2. Oranges

Oranges, like other citrus fruits, are an excellent source of Vitamin C. But they pack a powerful nutritional punch in a number of other departments as well. Oranges and other members of the citrus family contain a category of compound known as limonoids. Research has demonstrated that limonoids may help battle several types of cancer, including breast, colon, and stomach cancers. Oranges also contain a flavonoid compound known as hesperidin, which has demonstrated an ability to decrease blood pressure.

Citrate, found in oranges as well as other citrus fruit, prevents the formation of kidney stones. Oranges happen to contain more citrate than other varieties of citrus fruit. The Vitamin C that oranges provide offers powerful antioxidant properties and helps your body fight against potential invasion from disease-causing microorganisms.  In addition, Vitamin C aids in collagen production, helping control wrinkle formation and maintaining healthy, vibrant skin.

Oranges can serve as an excellent source of fiber. Maintaining a diet that incorporates sufficient intake of dietary fiber can help control cholesterol levels and maintain balanced blood sugar levels.  Oranges have also been identified as an excellent choice for individuals who are trying to lose weight due to their low glycemic index. The glycemic index is a measurement of dietary impact on an individual’s blood sugar levels. Having a low glycemic index indicates that a food does not cause a fast spike in blood sugar levels after consumption.


3. Peaches

Peaches are the only stone fruit on the list, and they possess some truly unique medical benefits. For many peaches are a summertime favorite, and while their quality may dip slightly during the colder months, they are certainly a healthy snack option any time of year.

While citrus fruits are known to provide high quantities of Vitamin C, peaches prove to be an excellent source as well. 

Peaches are loaded with iron and beta carotene. Beta carotene promotes healthy eye function, while iron is a trace nutrient that our body uses to produce red blood cells. They also contain lycopene and lutein, chemical compounds that have been linked to prevention of cancer and heart disease.

Peaches contain some unique antioxidants, including chlorogenic acid, a compound which may offer protection against cancer and combat the aging process. They contain a variety of polyphenolic compounds that also serve to scavenge damaging free radicals. 


4. Banana

Bananas are often identified as a cause of belly fat by flashy internet ads across the web. Even now, I am staring at a website that has a sidebar ad with a frowning banana and flashing words, “NEVER EAT.” 

Contrary to all of the bad press, bananas offer a number of wonderful health benefits. They are naturally cholesterol- and sodium-free, and they supply a healthy amount fiber to help maintain regular digestion. Bananas contain a compound known as froctooligosaccharide (FOS) that aids in digestion and increases the body’s nutrient absorption capacity.

Bananas are notorious for being loaded with potassium, containing approximately 400 mg per medium-sized banana. Potassium is an essential nutrient that helps the body maintain a healthy fluid balance in addition to establishing a healthy blood pressure.

The cardiovascular benefits of a diet rich in potassium have been well studied, but bananas also pack an extra heart health punch due to their sterol content. Sterols offer the benefit of closely resembling cholesterol, which allows them to block the body from absorbing additional cholesterol. 

Like oranges, bananas prove to be an excellent source of fiber. Making sure to include plenty of fiber in your diet ensures that you maintain regular digestion. 


5. Grapes

Believe it or not, grapes are good for more than just making wine. Resveratrol has received an enormous amount of press in the past few years for its antioxidant properties, its ability to fight heart disease, its purported anti-aging properties, and its potential ability to delay the onset of Alzheimer’s disease. While many people link resveratrol to red wine, its ultimate origin is the grape, and snacking on grapes or drinking a regular glass of grape juice can produce excellent health benefits.

Grapes have a high water content, and by eating them, you’re actually helping your body stay hydrated. In addition to resveratrol, they contain antioxidants that have demonstrated the ability to maintain optical health, including lutein.

Grapes also contain a class of compounds known as saponins. These compounds give the grape’s skin its characteristic waxy appearance, but they also have an added health benefit:  they prevent cholesterol from accumulating in the circulatory system.

Polyphenols, a class of compounds that help aid in cardiovascular health, are abundant in grapes. These compounds are also reported to prevent a wide variety of types of cancer.

Like oranges, grapes possess a low glycemic index, making them ideal snacks for individuals who working towards establishing healthier eating patterns. Consuming grapes may help your body establish healthy blood sugar levels.

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Dec 22, 2014 6:04am
I don't really understand the negative attention that bananas get. I find them to be quite soothing whenever I've been accidentally glutened.
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