Ask Mr. Pedometer and Friends…

June 2019

Q: Mr. Pedometer, what are the health benefits of eating fruit?

A: According to Consumer Reports on Health, we should be eating 1 ½ to 2 cups of fruit daily. However, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have found that only 12 percent of Americans meet that goal. Here are some reasons why we should strive to become part of that 12%:

BOOST ANTIOXIDANTS – “An antioxidant is a substance that protects cells from plate of fruit with health benefitsdamage caused by free radicals, which are unstable molecules created during the process of oxidation during normal metabolism. Free radicals may play a role in the development of stroke, heart disease, cancer, and other diseases.” One form of prevention seems to be eating brightly colored fruit, especially those that are red and purple. Think berries, plums, and cherries. These will give you “the biggest antioxidant bang for the bite.” Citrus fruits, apricots, cantaloupe, and apples have different antioxidants, so eating several varieties is a good strategy, according to Jeffrey Blumberg, Ph.D., a research professor at Tufts University in Boston.

RAISE YOUR POTASSIUM – “Potassium helps your body’s nerves and muscles, including your heart, work properly.… Eating foods that contain more potassium and less salt can help control high blood pressure and lower your risk of heart disease, according to the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention.” Bananas, cantaloupe, and peaches are very good sources of potassium.

FIGHT DISEASE – “Adding a small apple a day to your diet…may reduce the risk of stroke by about 42 percent, according to a study published in the journal Stroke…. “Tart and sweet cherries can decrease oxidative stress and inflammation, potentially benefiting people with diabetes, arthritis, and other conditions.”

INCREASE FIBER – “Fiber is linked to improved digestion as well as reduced risk for heart disease, stroke, high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes, and even certain cancers. It also can help you eat less.” High fiber fruits include guava, blackberries, raspberries, pears, and kiwifruit. (By contrast, fruit juice has very little or none.)

CONTROL BLOOD SUGAR – “When health experts say to eat less sugar, they’re talking about added sugars like those found in cakes, cookies, and soft drinks. But some people [mistakenly] think that the ‘eat less sugar’ directive applies to fruit, too.” The fiber contained in fruit “minimizes the effect that fruit’s natural sugars have on blood sugar levels.” A 2016 report “found that eating fruit, especially berries, lowered the risk of type 2 diabetes.” low-sugar fruits include raspberries, blackberries, strawberries, watermelon, grapefruit, and starfruit.

The article makes clear that enjoying a variety of fruit may be very good for one’s health. Fruit is a healthy way to satisfy a craving for something sweet. Take advantage of the fresh fruit you admire at the farmers’ markets and invest in their health benefits.