Health professionals tout the importance of increasing our fruit and vegetable consumption nearly every day. The message is pretty clear: eat more produce and less processed junk. Many of these packaged foods contain absurd levels of sugar, a seriously addictive ingredient, that can lead to obesity, diabetes, and many other health problems. Somehow people have translated all this bad news about the refined sweetener to fruit, reaching only for veggies to fulfill their produce requirements.
While no one’s going to encourage you to eat fewer vegetables, evidence suggests you need to add fruit to the mix as well. Berkeley Wellness explains noshing on fruit isn’t the same as eating refined sweeteners and the produce also contains high levels of fiber, which slows the absorption of sugar, plus plenty of other nutrients. Research actually suggests eating more fruit can do your body good. A 2010 study published in Nutrition found subjects who increased fruit intake lost weight. It was a small study, but the results held up even six months down the road.
Don’t feel too glum about missing out during the winter months because plenty of sweet produce is in season. The next time you head to the grocery store, load your cart with these seven winter fruits. Your body and your palate will thank you.
Like the tangy cousin to your standard orange, grapefruit is a refreshing way to get a massive dose of vitamin C. Though the long-held belief this nutrient can prevent or even cure illness isn’t really true, Mayo Clinic reveals it may shorten length of a cold. A serving of half a grapefruit is just 52 calories and provides plenty of nutrients. Though you can readily find juice, go for the whole fruit to get the benefits of the fiber.
Plain grapefruit makes a great addition to your usual breakfast, but you can also cook with it. For something simple, toss together a grapefruit and orange salsa. It’s great on tortilla chips, over some fish tacos, or paired with a broiled chicken breast.
They might require a bit of work, but pomegranates are worth the extra effort. The edible portions are actually the seed pods, called arils, which are inside of a bitter pith. To get them out, you can either split the pomegranate in a bowl of water and use your fingers to gently remove the seeds or you can go the fast route by smacking the back side of a halved fruit with a heavy spoon.
Once you have your seeds, you can toss them in a salad, use them to garnish soup, or turn them into a bright relish for spiced chicken kebabs. In addition to adding a tangy flavor to any of these dishes, pomegranate arils provide loads of fiber and antioxidants for just 72 calories per half cup. What’s more, pomegranates have been linked to a reduced risk of cardiovascular disease, certain types of cancer, and arthritis.
Their ability to keep well long after harvest makes apples perfect for the winter months. According to the USDA’s food nutrient database, one medium apple contains 95 calories, a fair amount of vitamin C, and more than 4 grams of fiber. This crunchy fruit may also be good for your heart.
Persimmons might not be at your local mega-mart, but they’re usually pretty easy to find at a decent produce market. One of these orange fruits contains about 118 calories, substantial doses of vitamins C and A, plus a whopping 6 grams of fiber. This is particularly good news for anyone looking to slash a few pounds because a recent study found simply focusing on increasing fiber intake can lead to weight loss.
Choose persimmons that feel soft, but not mushy. If they’re extremely firm, they’ll be far too astringent and bitter to eat. Once you have your fruit, try using them in some chicken lettuce wraps or an elegant salad. Persimmons are also delicious in baked goods, so try adding them to a quick bread.
One of the tiniest fruits you’ll find in the produce department, kumquats are also among the most flavorful. They have a sweet-tart taste that works well in tons of different dishes, and you can eat them peel and all. Eight whole kumquats set you back about 108 calories while providing you with vitamins, loads of fiber, and even a fair bit of calcium. Cook them into a fragrant tagine or try them as part of a substantial grain salad.
This fuzzy green fruit is a lot more nutritious than you realize. With more vitamin C than an orange and more potassium than a banana, a serving of kiwi can do your body good. Though you can use kiwi to make jam, the flavor is best when left raw. Try tossing some slices in your next fruit salad, or use them to make a simple chicken tostada. If you want to go all out, try your hand at a delicious pavlova.
Pears don’t get much love from Americans, which is silly when you consider they’re low in calories, high in fiber, and completely delicious. This forgotten fruit may not boast the same stunning vitamin or mineral levels as some of the others on this list, but they’re still a smart choice. A recent study even found those who regularly eat pears are less likely to be obese.
The exact variety of pear depends mostly on your preference, but go for a firmer variety, such as Bosc, for slowly cooked preparations. Try using pears in a satisfying sausage and lentil dish or let them be the star of the dessert table by poaching the fruit in red wine.