There is a popular expression people often use about “comparing apples to oranges” sometimes it is used in a rather snarky manner, as if to indicate that there are apparent differences between two items – in other words, the distinction is a “no brainer”.
Even though that delicious orange orb with its dimpled appearance versus the apple which could take on any number of appearances (red, green or yellow, not to mention some 2,500 varieties of apples grown here in the United States), those two fruits have something more important in common – they are good and good for you.
Satisfy a sweet tooth
Do you have a sweet tooth, and furthermore, do you indulge that sweet tooth on a regular basis? Whether your downfall is a caramel apple or a caramel macchiato, everyone needs a treat occasionally, and sugar gives us the lift to push through the rest of the day.
The American Heart Association, an authority on nutrition and wellbeing, thinks otherwise, however. They say the maximum amount of added sugars you should eat in the course of the day shakes out as follows:
- Men: 150 calories per day (37.5 grams or 9 teaspoons), and
- Women: 100 calories per day (25 grams or 6 teaspoons).
A medium-sized caramel apple will give you 49.5 grams of sugar and a 16-ounce Grande at Starbucks will put you at 32 grams of sugar. Both will give you a sugar high, and a short time later, when that sugar high wears off, your wagon will be draggin’ for sure. So maybe a smaller apple and a “Short” or 8-ounce coffee drink at Starbucks does the trick.
Fruit provides a brain boost
Today’s modern produce market is quite impressive. In fact, unless you’re a real “health nut”, you may stroll down the aisles while scratching your head what some of the fruits and vegetables are, let alone how to prepare them.
Sure, those new types of greens or heritage tomatoes might be unique looking, but, don’t forget those old standbys that Mom packed in your lunchbox when you were a kid are still there and ready to wow you with their healthful nutrients. The only drawback now, is that you don’t just reach into the Ziploc bag to pull out a peeled and sectioned orange, or a Tupperware full of grapes that have been esteemed and washed for you.
The go to fruit
- Bananas – Is there a more portable fruit than a banana? And, when someone is eating one, they smell so good and sweet you want one for yourself. Unwrap a medium-sized banana and it will not only satisfy you with its creamy and sweet taste, but will keep you full longer than any other fruit, for only about 100 calories. Pairing a banana with some peanut butter on whole-grain bread is a healthy and nutritious treat. (Just don’t fry that treat like Elvis did!) Bananas are renowned for adding benefits like fiber for regularity, vitamin compounds for your eyes, and are considered a heart-smart food as bananas regulate heart rhythm. They also are a good source of potassium, Vitamin B6 plus they contain Vitamin C… all this goodness and tasty too.
- Blueberries – Often touted as brain food the blueberry is tasty and gives a brain a boost; they improve memory and learning due to the anti-inflammatory effects of anthocyanin, the specific antioxidants that give this fruit its bright purple hue. But, blueberries do more than just enhance the brain – blueberry antioxidants are fat busters that can also help keep you slim and trim by satisfying your sweet tooth for few calories. Just imagine all that sweet goodness at only 44 calories for a half-cup. Now you don’t need to get your blueberry fix in a fat-laden muffin, just pour them over cereal or eat them as finger food.
- Cranberries – Long a staple at the Thanksgiving table, cranberries have evolved, and not just as seasonal add-ins to English muffins. Fresh tart cranberries have excellent properties that stop bacteria in its tracks – in the bladder they’ll stop urinary tract infections and in the mouth they’ll thwart bacteria that speeds along on its way to tooth decay. Fresh cranberries may even prevent your stomach from ulcers by halting the H. pylori bacteria that cause them.
- Grapefruit – Grapefruit is great, BUT, it comes with a little disclaimer – don’t start eating it on a regular basis without consulting with your doctor first as it does interact with many types of drugs. However, that said, if you could factor just ½ a grapefruit into your breakfast menu, you can decrease your risk of insulin resistance, a precursor to type 2 diabetes. You might prevent kidney cysts as well. Grapefruit is often touted for its powerful phytochemicals (plant nutrients) which may protect you against colon cancer.
- Grapes – Got grapes? If you do, they will fight inflammation in many ways, from acting as an antioxidant by reducing cell stress, and red grapes, are praised for their compound, resveratrol (also found in red wine), which has been linked to heart health and prevention of several cancers (lung, breast, and other types). Red grapes can reduce the inflammation that contributes to health problems, including type 2 diabetes, hardening of the arteries and high blood pressure. Red grapes are also instrumental in reducing the levels of LDL (“bad” cholesterol) and raising the levels of HDL (“good” cholesterol).
- Prunes – Someone is always snickering about prunes there is really nothing to laugh about – prunes are just dried plums, but if you consume prunes on a regular basis, you’ll be smiling a lot, especially if you are a woman. That is because prunes help to keep your bones strong, so, if you are a post-menopausal woman, you’ll benefit from prunes big-time since this wrinkled-up fruit increases the level of hormones associated with bone formation and helps to counteract the loss of bone density due to the dip in estrogen women experience after menopause. Not only does the fiber in prunes help in maintaining regularity, but prunes also are an excellent source of potassium (which will keep your blood pressure in check) and a good cholesterol-friendly, heart-healthy snack. So laugh no more at the wonders of prunes.
- Strawberries – The luscious strawberry, long the mainstay of jams and jellies and companion to peanut butter, has many attributes. Plopping a few strawberries into your oatmeal or slicing some into your yogurt may cut your risk of esophageal cancer. They needn’t be fresh strawberries either – frozen strawberries work just as well. Regular consumption of this sweet fruit will benefit your heart, as strawberries help counteract the inflammatory and blood clotting effects of a high-fat, high-carbohydrate meal, thereby helping decrease the incidence of cardiovascular disease.
- Tangerines –Tangerines (a/k/a clementines) are those little gems that are available from Thanksgiving through Memorial Day. They are often referred to as the fruit with the zipper peel. They are less muss and fuss than oranges, are sinfully sweet and they have no seeds (the biggest plus). The tangerine protects the body against a triad of diseases known as metabolic syndrome: coronary artery disease, stroke, and type 2 diabetes. That’s darn impressive isn’t it? And, if you wanted to eat the peel you can help protect your body against cancer. Eating the peel is not a daunting task – in other words, you don’t just consume the peel after enjoying the citrus segments, you grind up the peel and create tangerine zest to sprinkle into your tea or a salad for a citrusy twist. Lemon zest is also used for flavoring. While consumption of citrus peels may sound distasteful to some, the peel has a well-established reputation for chemo preventive activity against many types of cancer, especially colorectal and breast cancer. It also helps to neutralize gastric acid for GERD sufferers.
So, if these daily health tips enlightened you today, hail to the fruit sensations of our past, because they are tried and true and working for you, so why not try them soon?