“An apple a day keeps the doctor away.”
Healthcare professionals know that fruit is a highly nutritious, delicious, and convenient addition to any diet. With more than 2,000 varieties of fruit available, you may wonder which ones you should pick.
Each type of fruit brings its own unique set of nutrients and benefits to the table. The key is to eat fruits of various colors, as each color provides a different set of healthy nutrients.
Here are the top 20 healthiest fruits to enjoy regularly.
One of the most popular fruits, apples are chock-full of nutrition.
They’re rich in both soluble and insoluble fiber, such as pectin, hemicellulose, and cellulose. These help you manage your blood sugar levels, promote good digestion, and support gut and heart health.
In addition, they’re a good source of vitamin C and plant polyphenols, which are disease-fighting compounds found in plants. Consuming apples regularly may lower your risk of heart disease, stroke, cancer, overweight, obesity, and neurological disorders.
Note that most of the polyphenols in apples are located just below the skin, so be sure to eat them to reap the greatest benefits.
Blueberries are well known for their antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties.
In particular, they’re high in anthocyanin, a plant pigment, and flavonoid that gives blueberries their characteristic blue-purple color. This compound helps fight cell-damaging free radicals that can lead to disease.
Numerous studies have pointed to the health benefits of a diet high in anthocyanins, such as a lower risk of type 2 diabetes, heart disease, overweight, obesity, high blood pressure, certain types of cancer, and cognitive decline.
For example, a study including over 200,000 participants observed a 5% decrease in the risk of type 2 diabetes for every 17 grams of anthocyanin-rich berries they consumed per day.
Other berries high in anthocyanins include blackberries, bilberry, elderberry, cherries, and chokeberries.
The benefits of bananas go beyond their potassium content. Along with providing 7% of the recommended daily intake for potassium, bananas contain:
- Vitamin B6: 27% of the recommended daily intake
- Vitamin C: 12% of the recommended daily intake
- Magnesium: 8% of the recommended daily intake
In addition, they offer a wide variety of plant compounds called polyphenols and phytosterols, both of which support your overall health. Furthermore, they’re high in prebiotics, a type of fiber that promotes the growth of beneficial bacteria in the gut.
Suggested read: 9 ways to improve your gut bacteria
Note that green, unripe bananas are higher in resistant starch than ripe ones, and they’re a good source of the dietary fiber pectin. Both of these have been linked to several health benefits, including improved blood sugar control and better digestive health.
Meanwhile, ripe bananas are an excellent source of easily digested carbs, making them great to fuel up on before a workout.
Oranges are known for their high vitamin C content, providing 91% of the recommended daily intake in a single fruit. They’re also high in potassium, folate, thiamine (vitamin B1), fiber, and plant polyphenols.
Studies have found that consuming whole oranges may lower levels of inflammation, blood pressure, cholesterol, and post-meal blood sugar.
Though 100% orange juice provides a high volume of nutrients and antioxidants, it usually lacks dietary fiber. Varieties that include the pulp do include some fiber, so opt for these over juices without pulp.
That said, try to eat whole oranges more often, and keep juice portions to 1 cup (235 mL) or less per serving.
5. Dragon fruit
Also known as pitaya or pitahaya, dragon fruit is rich in many nutrients, including fiber, iron, magnesium, and vitamins C and E. It’s also an excellent source of carotenoids, such as lycopene and beta carotene.
People in Southeast Asian cultures have regarded dragon fruit highly for hundreds of years as a health-promoting fruit. Over recent decades, it has gained popularity in Western countries.
Known as the “king of fruits,” mangoes are an excellent source of potassium, folate, fiber, and vitamins A, C, B6, E, and K. They’re also rich in numerous plant polyphenols that have antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties.
In particular, mangoes are high in mangiferin, a potent antioxidant. Studies have shown it may protect the body from chronic diseases, such as type 2 diabetes, heart disease, Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, and certain forms of cancer.
What’s more, mangoes contain fiber, which helps support regular bowel movements and aids digestive health.
Unlike most other fruits, avocados are high in healthy fats and low in natural sugars.
They’re mostly made of oleic acid, a monounsaturated fat linked to better heart health. They also contain high amounts of potassium, fiber, vitamin B6, folate, vitamins E and K, and two carotenoids known as lutein and zeaxanthin, which support eye health.
A high-quality 2020 study found a significant decrease in cholesterol levels and an increase in blood lutein levels among participants who consumed an avocado per day for 5 weeks.
When compared by weight, avocados are higher in calories than most other fruits. However, studies have linked them to better weight management. Researchers have proposed that this is because their high fat and fiber contents promote fullness.
Lychee, which is also known as litchi and Chinese cherry, is packed with nutrition.
In particular, it’s a rich source of vitamin C, potassium, fiber, and many polyphenols with anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties. These include:
- gallic acid
- chlorogenic acid
- caffeic acid
One serving of lychee is around seven small individual fruits.
Pineapple is one of the most popular tropical fruits.
One cup (165 grams) of pineapple provides 88% of the recommended daily intake for vitamin C and 73% of the recommended daily intake for manganese.
Manganese supports metabolism and blood sugar regulation and acts as an antioxidant.
Pineapple also contains many polyphenolic compounds that have antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties.
Additionally, pineapple contains an enzyme known as bromelain, which people commonly use to tenderize meats. Anecdotal sources also claim this enzyme may support digestion, though there’s limited research on this.
Strawberries are a favorite fruit for many. They’re delicious, convenient, and highly nutritious. In particular, strawberries are a good source of vitamin C, folate, and manganese.
They’re full of plant polyphenols that act as antioxidants, such as flavonoids, phenolic acids, lignans, and tannins.
In particular, they’re high in anthocyanins, ellagitannins, and proanthocyanidins, which studies have shown reduce the risk of chronic disease.
Furthermore, they have a low glycemic index, meaning they won’t significantly affect your blood sugar levels.
Though known for its pungent smell, durian is incredibly nutritious.
A single cup (243 grams) provides:
- Fiber: 9 grams
- Potassium: 23% of the recommended daily intake
- Manganese: 34% of the recommended daily intake
- Vitamin C: 53% of the recommended daily intake
- Vitamin B6: 45% of the recommended daily intake
- Thiamine (vitamin B1): 76% of the recommended daily intake
It also contains plenty of other B vitamins, copper, folate, and magnesium.
What’s more, it’s rich in plant polyphenols, including:
- flavonoids such as anthocyanins
- phenolic acids such as cinnamic acid
- other beneficial plant compounds such as carotenoids
It’s also a high source of potassium and fiber, both of which contribute to good heart health. Finally, durian pulp has probiotic effects, which may support healthy gut diversity.
Cherries are a great source of fiber and potassium, both of which are important for heart and gut health.
They’re also high in antioxidant plant compounds, such as anthocyanins and hydroxycinnamates, which help protect the body from oxidative stress.
Furthermore, they’re a good source of serotonin, tryptophan, and melatonin, which support good mood and sleep.
Though they may not readily come to mind when you think of fruit, olives are a great addition to your diet.
They’re an excellent source of vitamin E, copper, and monounsaturated fat called oleic acid.
They’re also rich in plant polyphenols, such as oleuropein, hydroxytyrosol, and quercetin, which have anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties.
Whole olives and olive oil make up a large component of the Mediterranean diet, which studies have shown may lower the risk of heart disease, type 2 diabetes, cognitive decline, overweight, and obesity.
Watermelon is a highly nutritious summer favorite. It’s an abundant source of antioxidants, such as vitamins A and C, beta carotene, and lycopene. It’s also a good source of potassium and magnesium.
In particular, watermelon is one of the top sources of lycopene, a carotenoid that gives watermelon its pink-red color.
A diet high in lycopene is linked to lower levels of oxidative stress and inflammation. The nutrient may also decrease the risk of heart disease, cancer, and type 2 diabetes.
Interestingly, lycopene and beta carotene may also provide minor skin protection from ultraviolet (UV) rays, reduce the risk of sunburns, and help your skin heal faster.
That said, you’ll still need to use sunscreen to keep your skin fully protected.
Finally, watermelon has uniquely high water content. A single wedge (434 grams) provides 13.4 ounces (395 mL) of water. Since it’s high in both water and potassium, it can help hydrate and replenish electrolytes after a workout or on a hot summer day.
Also known as the Chinese gooseberry, kiwi is great for your health.
It’s high in vitamin C and a good source of fiber, potassium, folate, and vitamin E. It’s also a good source of carotenoids, including lutein, zeaxanthin, and beta carotene, which support eye health and become more dominant as fruits ripen.
Furthermore, people have used it in traditional Chinese medicine for hundreds of years to support gut health and digestion.
These benefits are due to its soluble and insoluble fiber, polyphenols, and digestive enzymes such as actinidin.
One small study showed that consuming 2 kiwis daily for 3 days increased stool frequency and softened stool, suggesting it may help treat mild constipation.
Peaches are another summer favorite. They’re a good source of potassium, fiber, and vitamins A, C, and E. They also contain the carotenoids lutein, zeaxanthin, and beta carotene.
While the flesh and skin are both nutritious, the skin contains higher amounts of antioxidants, which can help fight free radicals in your body. Therefore, make sure you eat the peach skin to reap the greatest health benefits.
Fortunately, the nutrient content of peaches appears to be similar whether you consume them fresh or canned. However, if you opt for canned peaches, make sure they’re packed in water rather than sugary syrup.
Guava is a fantastic source of vitamin C. A single fruit (55 grams) provides 140% of the recommended daily intake for this nutrient.
Along with this, guava contains some of the highest amounts of lycopene compared with other lycopene-rich foods like tomatoes, watermelon, and grapefruit.
It’s also a high source of other antioxidants, such as beta carotene and various flavonoids.
Because guava is so high in nutrients and antioxidants, consuming it regularly may support the health of your eyes, heart, kidneys, and skin.
It may likewise protect against chronic diseases and support a healthy immune system.
Grapes are convenient, healthy, and particularly high in potassium and vitamin K, which both support heart health.
They’re a rich source of beneficial plant compounds that have been linked to numerous health benefits, such as a lowered risk of heart disease and certain types of cancer. These compounds include:
- caffeic acid
While all varieties of grapes provide benefits, red and purple grapes have the highest antioxidant content. In particular, they produce purple-red pigments called anthocyanins, which have been linked to better heart and brain health.
Pomegranates are known for their high antioxidant content.
They contain a lengthy list of beneficial plant compounds, such as flavonoids, tannins, and lignans. These have strong antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties that help fight free radicals and reduce your risk of chronic disease.
One high-quality study found that people experienced significantly lower levels of inflammation after drinking 8.5 ounces (250 mL) of pomegranate juice per day for 12 weeks, compared with a placebo.
Grapefruit is one of the healthiest citrus fruits. It’s packed with vitamin C, potassium, fiber, and beta carotene, which your body converts into vitamin A.
In an observational study including 12,789 people, grapefruit consumption was linked to higher levels of HDL (good) cholesterol and lower body weight, waist circumference, body mass index (BMI), triglycerides, and levels of inflammation.
Moreover, regularly consuming grapefruit may aid weight management and promote heart health.
Though grapefruit is highly nutritious, some of its compounds can lessen or alter the effectiveness of certain medications. Talk with your healthcare professional about whether you can eat grapefruit if you’re taking:
- calcium channel blockers
- anti-anxiety medications
In these cases, you may have to avoid grapefruit.
Many delicious and nutritious fruits can help ensure good health.
While this list provides 20 of the most nutritious fruits, there are many others you can choose from.
To reap the greatest benefits, be sure to eat a variety of colorful fruits daily.