If you’re tempted to skip the recommended three to four servings of fruit a day because you’re trying to lose weight or save time, you might want to factor in all the benefits of fruits you’d be losing.
Although some fad diets tell you to restrict fruit because it has sugar, that’s not the whole story. Fruit does contain natural sugars, but it also has water and fiber – both of which help you feel full and eat less. And fruit is packed with vitamins and other nutrients that are essential for health.
Several recent studies have pointed to the health benefits of fruits. Specifically, tart cherries may help reduce inflammation, according to one lab study (that’s why they traditionally are suggested as a folk remedy for gout and arthritis).
Researchers at the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, found that both lean rats and prediabetic rats that were given tart cherry powder had the levels of inflammation markers in their blood drop substantially. Their cholesterol and triglyceride (fats in the blood) levels dropped, too.
Apples also may help fight inflammation. They lower levels of CRP – a marker of inflammation that can spike during a rheumatoid arthritis flare – according to a review of data from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey, a government database. And you don’t even have to take the time to slice an apple: Along with those who ate apples, people who ate applesauce or drank apple juice tended to have lower blood pressure and a smaller waistline than those who didn’t consume apples.
And it’s not just your body that benefits. A recent study found that people who drank fruit and vegetable juices had a lower risk of developing Alzheimer’s. The fruit nutrition study, conducted by researchers at Vanderbilt University in Nashville, Tenn., found that people who drank fruit and vegetable juices at least three times a week reduced their risk by 76 percent. Those who drank juice twice a week saw their risk go down by 16 percent.
Of course, if you drink fruit juice, be sure to look for the words “No Sugar Added” on the product label. You’ll get even more of the benefits of fruit from juices that contain pulp – they have more fiber.