Make fruits your daily snack
Alarge six-year study (‘Age and Aging’) found that eating at least two servings of fruits each day (along with three portions of vegetables) was associated with a lower risk for dementia in older adults. Other research (‘New England Journal of Medicine’) points to the cardiovascular benefits of fruit consumption – among more than 5,00,000 people aged up to 79 years, those who ate fresh fruit (primarily apples and oranges) every day had 30% lower risk of dying from a heart attack or stroke, compared with participants who rarely or never ate fruit. Despite data like these, it’s been noted that adults don’t eat enough fruits. Mount Sinai nutrition consultant Fran Grossman, RD, MS, CDN, CDE, recommends you rectify this situation if you tend to bypass fruit because you think a daily multivitamin can replace it in your diet. All fruits are good for you, but Grossman suggests that you stock up on these to get the most nutritional bang for your buck:
1 Berries Blueberries, blackberries, strawberries, raspberries, acai and goji berries are packed with antioxidants, including vitamins A, C, and E, and the anthocyanins that give berries their red or purple hue. “Antioxidants help combat free radicals, which are naturally occurring molecules that may contribute to the systemic inflammation that has been linked to cardiovascular disease, cancer, arthritis, and dementia,” Grossman notes. Research has linked blueberries especially with better cognition in older adults, while a 2013 study found that women who ate three or more servings of blueberries and strawberries per week had a 30% lower risk of heart attack. “Berries freeze well, so if you see them on special at your local grocery store, buy extra – then simply rinse them and allow them to dry before spreading them on a cookie sheet and putting them in the freezer,” Grossman suggests. “Once frozen, they will keep for up to a year in an airtight container.”
2 Cherries are another good source of anthocyanins, and also contain calcium and potassium (see box) as well as numerous vitamins. Research suggests that tart cherries may help relieve the pain and stiffness of arthritis, as well as lower the risk of gout flare-ups.
3 Oranges contain immune system-boosting vitamin C, folate, potassium, and choline (which may benefit your memory), among other nutrients. They are also high in zeaxanthin, another antioxidant that may help ward off macular degeneration, a serious eye disease that can affect seniors.
Oranges contain immune system-boosting vitamin C, folate, potassium, and choline (which may benefit your memory), among other nutrients.
4 Papapa Like oranges, papayas are high in vitamin C, folate, beta-carotene, choline, and zeaxanthin. They also are rich in betacarotene and lycopene, which have been associated with a lower risk for cancer; and may help balance your levels of HDL (good cholesterol) and LDL (bad cholesterol, which is linked to a greater risk for cardiovascular disease and diabetes). “Papaya contains an enzyme that aids digestion, and may help prevent constipation,” Grossman adds.
5 Kiwis These are rich in vitamin K and even higher in vitamin C than oranges. Kiwis have been shown to reduce levels of triglycerides (fats that circulate in the blood). They also have mild laxative properties that may help clear up a bout of constipation.
6 Grapes are rich in the antioxidants resveratrol and quercetin. Both may benefit cardiovascular health by relaxing the arteries.
7 apples “Apples are nutritional powerhouses that also are rich in fibre, including pectin, a type of fibre linked to lower cholesterol and blood pressure and better cardiovascular and digestive health,” Grossman says. Eating apples has also been linked to a lower risk for cancer and asthma. “Keep in mind that
you’ll need to eat the skin of your apple to get the most fibre and antioxidants,” Grossman adds.
8 Bananas Packed with potassium, bananas also are full of fibre and are gentle on the digestive system – one reason that mashed banana is often recommended to help replenish nutrients that may be lost during diarrhea.
9 Pomegranates The thick outer skin of this fruit, encloses hundreds of edible seeds called arils, which are rich in vitamin C and K, potassium, and folate. Arils are also an excellent source of protein and fibre.
Packed with potassium, bananas also are full of fibre and are gentle on the digestive system.