10 Fruits That Can Help Prevent Diseases

We all know that to maintain a healthy diet, we need ample servings of fruits and vegetables and probably less bacon than we consume. But how much is enough, and which fruits should we be eating?

The United States Department of Agriculture suggests men and women should eat about two cups of fruit each day. This can mean two cups of regular fruit or 100% fruit juice, or one cup of dried fruit for your daily intake. You can eat any fruit you like to make the government (and your doctor) happy, but some fruits provide better perks than others. In addition, eating the whole fruit is often a better option than picking up a bottle of orange juice or juicing at home. You still get the same vitamins and minerals, but just drinking fruit juice doesn’t provide the fiber you need, and juice absorbed without that fiber can cause a spike in your blood sugar levels. According to the Harvard Gazette, eating more whole fruits can lower your risk of type-2 diabetes.

The fruit you eat can help you recover from muscle soreness after the gym faster, help prevent prostate cancer, and perhaps even prevent erectile dysfunction later in your life. Which fruits are key to those benefits? We’ve listed 10 that can provide the most benefits.

1. Pomegranates

Pomegranate and seeds

Pomegranates have plenty of antioxidants. | iStock.com

According to Livestrong, men are at a higher risk for heart disease than women. They also need to think about the possibility of prostate cancer, which affects 200,000 men in the U.S. each year. According to the publication, eating pomegranates frequently can help to lessen the risk of either health condition. The antioxidant compounds found in pomegranates can also help alleviate erectile dysfunction, or even prevent it altogether.

So why is it that you might be able to avoid taking little blue pills and just eat pomegranates instead? The antioxidants in pomegranate seeds can help reverse oxidative damage, what Dr. Oz Garcia tells Men’s Fitness is “natural rusting” of your blood vessels. Skip the pharmacy line and go with nature’s Viagra instead.

2. Apples

Red apples in a wooden bowl

Go for Granny Smith or Red Delicious. | iStock.com

Yes, one of our favorite fruits is also great for you. Each medium-size apple is packed with 17% of the fiber we need each day and is helpful to maintain colon health, among other things. Apples also contain anti-allergy compounds.

But the apples you choose also matter. Granny Smiths and Red Delicious are two of the most nutritious. Aside from Granny Smiths, Cortlands, and Honeycrisp apples, the darker the color, the better. Apples with more color tend to contain more antioxidants, Men’s Journal reports.

3. Grapes

Grapes

Grapes are the perfect post-workout snack. | iStock.com

Need to refuel after a workout? Reach for a handful of grapes. Grapes are vitamin powerhouses that contain vitamins A, C, and B6. In addition, they can help you replace the energy you lost during your gym session by helping your body produce more glycogen. “Grapes are a very high-glycemic fruit,” nutritionist and physique specialist John Kiefer tells Men’s Fitness, “which makes them an ideal post-training snack.”

The darker the grapes, the more power they’ll have. If you’d prefer the dried fruit variety, Men’s Journal advises eating currants, which are made from Black Corinth grapes and will pack the most antioxidants compared to any other raisin.

4. Cherries

Cherries in bowl

Cherries are anti-inflammatory. | iStock.com

Dietician Leslie Bonci keeps cherry juice in the Pittsburgh Steelers’ locker room at all times to help with inflammation after games and tough practices. “The pigment in cherries and cherry juice mimics the effects of some anti-inflammatory medicines,” Bonci tells WebMD. “And there are no side effects.”

The more tart the cherries, the better they’ll help to alleviate aches and pains. That’s because they have the highest levels of anthocyanins 1 and 2, which block enzymes associated with inflammation.

5. Blackberries

Blackberries in containers

Blackberries may help out your brain. | Saul Loeb/AFP/Getty Images

Actually, any berries are great for your health. And if you’ve already picked up on a theme among fruits, the darker the color, the more health-packed they are. “Blueberries and blackberries have nutrients that may enhance brain functioning and improve your memory,” dietician Manual Villacorta tells Men’s Fitness. Bonci agrees and adds that they’re loaded with antioxidants that can help prevent cancer.

In addition, blackberries can help push cholesterol through your system before it’s absorbed by your bloodstream. Another perk? Like pomegranates, they can be a natural enhancer if you struggle with ED.

6. Papaya

Papaya

Papaya can help with your digestion. | iStock.com

Though most of the fruits on our list are pretty common in every supermarket across the country, there’s also a few more exotic selections that you might have to seek out specifically. Papaya is one of them. Eating some of the tropical fruit has been linked to relieving gas from indigestion. On top of that, it also contains few calories but a ton of vitamin C.

To make sure you’re picking a good one, look for a papaya that is mostly yellow and yields slightly to pressure — a bit like a ripe peach.

7. Mangoes

Mangoes on plate

Mangoes have plenty of vitamin C. | iStock.com

Add mangoes to the list of slightly more exotic selections at the grocery store. Don’t treat it like a rarity, health foods author Jo Robinson tells Men’s Journal. Mangoes have five times more vitamin C than oranges, are loaded with fiber, and their sugars are absorbed slowly compared to other fruits, which is better for your blood sugar levels.

Need help making sure you’re picking a good one? Robinson says to sniff it, rather than pay attention to its color. If it smells the way a stereotypical mango should, it’s probably good to eat. If your sniff test reminds you of your ammonia cleaning products at home, it’s a sign that it’s overripe.

8. Bananas

Bunch of Bananas

Bananas are popular for a reason. | iStock.com

Bananas are cheap, easy to grab on the way to work or the gym, and their famed levels of potassium are great for staving off muscle cramps. Those qualities alone are probably why bananas are the most popular fruit for Americans — even beating out the beloved apple. But potassium is also good for bone health and for maintaining your blood pressure.

Think you’re eating too much salt? Grab a few bananas along the way. “Getting enough potassium may be as important as eating less sodium when it comes to lowering blood pressure,” WebMD states.

9. Grapefruit

Grapefruit segments on a wooden table

Grapefruit really can help you lose weight. | iStock.com

Grapefruit isn’t a miracle drug — it won’t cause you to shed tons of weight. However, eating grapefruit regularly can act as a slight appetite suppressant, and has been proven to help people lose a few pounds over the course of a couple of weeks. It’s also known to help reduce the risk of certain types of cancer and lower blood pressure.

If you’re concerned at all about your ability to have children, fruits high in vitamin C (like grapefruit, oranges, and even peaches) can help improve the quality of your sperm, as well as your count. Maybe there is something magical in it, after all.

10. Watermelon

Three slices of watermelon

Who doesn’t love watermelon? | iStock.com

Sure, this summery fruit will help to keep you hydrated and cool in the hottest months of the year. But don’t let its watery makeup trick you into believing there’s no benefits to eating it. It’s high in beta carotene and lycopene, both good for your heart. It’s also high in citrulline, which is converted into arginine in the body.

“Arginine boosts nitric oxide, which relaxes blood vessels, the same basic effect that Viagra has, to treat erectile dysfunction and maybe even prevent it,” Bhimu Patil, Ph.D., director of the Texas A&M’s Vegetable and Fruit Improvement Center, tells Men’s Health.

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