With colorful fruits from A to Z, from apples to Zinfandel grapes, it probably isn’t hard to name one of nature’s candies that is your favorite. Not only are fruits tasty, but they’re also packed with vitamins, minerals, and fiber, making them the healthiest treat around.
Experts recommend eating 1 1/2 to 2 cups of fruit daily. And while most of us would probably say we enjoy this food group, we don’t necessarily meet that goal. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), only one in 10 Americans consume enough fruit or vegetables daily. (Here are some of the unfortunate consequences of skipping your daily allowance.)
Need a little motivation to up your intake? Check out these six incredible effects of daily fruit consumption.
You’ve probably heard the advice to “eat the rainbow”. This oft-vaunted nutritional mantra isn’t just useful for taking great Instagram photos. The nutritious compounds that give fruits their colors are usually also antioxidants, the substances that fight free radicals and reduce inflammation.
Almost all fruits contain antioxidants, but some are real powerhouses. “
Berries are high in antioxidants, which help reduce inflammation, so they would be my top recommendation,” says Carrie Gabriel, MS, RDN. “Citrus fruits like oranges are also beneficial.
When you reduce systemic inflammation by eating fruit every day, you reap other incredible benefits in the process, including lowering your risk of certain chronic diseases.
“Fruit is packed with vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and phytonutrients that work together in the body to boost your immune system,” says Dani Lebovitz, MS, RDN, author of A to Z with fruits and vegetables. “Eating fruit every day provides your body with the protective effects of these nutrients, which can reduce the risk of heart disease and stroke, lower blood pressure, and even prevent certain types of cancer.”
There’s a lot of noise these days about maintaining a healthy gut. (Don’t miss our best eating habits for your gut health!) Having a thriving gut microbiome has been linked to everything from lower risk of type 2 diabetes to better mental health. Fruit could play an important role in keeping your gastrointestinal tract happy and healthy.
“Fruit is an excellent source of dietary fiber, which helps us maintain a healthy gut and prevent digestive issues like constipation,” says Gabriel. “The fiber in fruit also helps us feel fuller for longer, makes digestion more efficient and contributes to the presence of good bacteria in our intestines, which is essential for good digestion.”
Some people may feel that too much fruit upsets their stomach rather than soothing it. For these folks, Gabriel recommends a simple trick.
“Cooking fruit can break down fiber and make it easier to digest,” she says.
The secret to glowing skin may not be in your medicine cabinet, but in your fruit basket! Hanging fruit every day is a simple way to improve skin health. (And we’re talking about eating it, not applying an apricot scrub.)
“Fruit is packed with powerful antioxidants that can help delay skin cell damage by reducing inflammation and providing protection against free radicals,” says Lebovitz. “Free radicals can accelerate the onset of skin aging by breaking down collagen in the body, leading to wrinkles and a dull, uneven complexion.”
To combat these issues, Lebovitz recommends choosing fruits rich in vitamin C, such as guava, kiwi fruit, strawberries and oranges. Or check out our list of the 33 best foods for glowing skin.
Drinking plenty of water is an integral part of a healthy lifestyle, but not all of your fluids have to come from beverages. Some may come from food. Fruits are a veritable gold mine for hydration!
“Many fruits contain high amounts of water which can help with hydration,” says Gabriel. “Watermelon is one of the most hydrating fruits, with a 1-cup serving containing about 1/2 cup of water, in addition to fiber, vitamins, and minerals. Strawberries and cantaloupe are not not far off in terms of water content either.”
So what’s the deal with hydration? The benefits of having enough fluids daily are endless, says Gabriel.
“Not only does it help with digestion, [but it also] helps cushion joints, transports nutrients to cells, and helps normalize our blood pressure and heart rate.”
If you’re on a weight loss diet (especially the low-carb variety), you may have avoided fruit for fear that it contains too many sugars and carbohydrates. But fruit isn’t necessarily an enemy of your waistline. In fact, compelling research shows otherwise. A study of over 26,000 adults found that the more fruits (and vegetables) people ate, the less body fat they had. And a 2019 systematic review concluded that fruit may have a place in the prevention and management of obesity and excess body fat.
“Eating fruit every day can aid weight loss because most are relatively low in calories and high in fiber, which means they’ll help you feel full longer,” says Lebovitz. “Try high-fiber, low-sugar fruits like passion fruit, raspberries, blackberries, and pomegranate.”