This evidence-based content is written by a registered dietitian nutritionist. Scientific references are from trusted sources.
Whether you grew up with the Food Pyramid or MyPlate, fruit is an essential part of any healthy diet. Current dietary guidelines for the healthiest fruits to eat from the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), recommend Americans consume between 2 and 2.5 cups of fruit day. (1)
Current dietary trends and myths may scare people aware from consuming fruits because of their “carb” content.
However, those are sheer myths. Fruit, as part of a balanced diet, is a healthy way to get fiber, vitamins, and minerals which are essential to human health.
Aside from being sweet and delicious, fruit is nutritious. Is there a best fruit to eat? A healthiest fruit to eat?
What Are The Healthiest Fruits?
We explore ten of the healthiest, and tastiest, sweet treats nature has to offer.
Blueberries are often referred to as a superfood and for good reason. One cup of raw blueberries contains 84.4 calories, 3.5 g of fiber, and 14.7g of sugar. (2)
These sweet, dark skinned berries are packed with phytochemicals. Phytochemicals are naturally occurring in fruits and vegetables.
They are thought to be bioactive and have positive effects on human health.
Blueberries’ biological properties lead researchers to believe that they may have an antioxidant effect on the body. The dark color and phytochemical makeup also makes them an anti-inflammatory.
This means consuming blueberries can support joint health and may help ease aches and pains. Antioxidants can help prevent certain cancers and chronic diseases. Blueberries may also be anti-neurodegenerative, meaning they can help support brain health and cognitive function.
Cherries are a sweet treat or a tart treat, depending on the variety you choose.
Tart cherries are known for their anti-inflammatory effects. Tart cherries are rich in vitamin C and polyphenols. One cup of cherries, pitted, contains 97 calories, 3g of fiber, and 19.7g of sugar. (3)
Research on tart cherries shows promising data on relieving gout symptoms (4), reducing uric acid levels for some individuals, and helping to reduce flare ups.
Tart cherries have also been studied to reduce muscle inflammation in one study of long distance runners (5). Those are certainly sweet reasons to add tart cherries to your fruit bowl.
Citrus fruit is what comes to mind when you think of vitamin C. Lemons, limes, oranges and grapefruit all helped keep sailors healthy during long voyages in the 1700’s and 1800’s. (6)
The vitamin C helped prevent sailors from getting scurvy but they can still help prevent many ailments for humans now! Consuming any vitamin C rich food, like citrus, along with iron rich foods like meat or spinach can help your body use and absorb the iron better.
One cup of orange slices has about 85 calories, 4.3g of fiber, and 16.8g of sugar (7). One cup of lemon slices has about 61 calories, 6g of fiber, and 5g of sugar. One cup of grapefruit sections has about 73 calories, 2.5g of fiber, and 15g of sugar. (8).
Aside from being rich in vitamin C, citrus fruits like oranges are rich in folate and potassium.
Some research shows that consuming oranges or orange juice may have heart health protecting effects, such as reducing blood pressure (9). Additionally, the citric acid in oranges, lemons, and grapefruits may help prevent kidney stone buildup (10, 11).
Bananas are easy to grab and go as an easy to eat sweet treat. One medium banana has roughly 105 calories, 3g of fiber, and 14g of sugar. (12)
Bananas are also rich in potassium, about 422mg per banana. Potassium is vital to heart health and most American fall short when it comes to getting enough through their diet. (13)
Bananas are rich in pectin, a type of fiber that aids in digestion. This type of fiber may help moderate blood sugar levels after meals and slow digestion. (14)
Yes, avocados are technically a fruit. That big ol’ pit gives them that categorization. While most fruits are sweet and higher in natural sugars, avocado is higher in natural, “good for you” fats.
One avocado contains about 218 calories, 9g of fiber, .8g of sugar, and almost 20g fat (15). Keep in mind the appropriate portion size of a serving of avocado is 1/5 of a whole avocado.
Avocados are also rich in potassium. Between their “good” fats and loads of potassium, avocados may play a role in protecting heart health.
Avocado consumption was associated with better overall diet quality and lower rates of metabolic syndrome in Americans (16).
Avocados are also rich in phytochemicals which may prevent certain types of cancers. (17) But that’s not all- avocados may also help your body use other nutrients from other foods more effectively.
The fats present in avocado may help your body use the fat soluble vitamins, such as carotenoids or vitamin A, that are present in other foods, such as tomatoes.
So if you’re thinking of skipping the guacamole in favor of the salsa – have them both! (18)
Just like our avocado, the pit in your olives make them fruits. Olives are also rich in heart healthy fats. 10 small green olives contain about 42 calories, 4g of fat, 1g of fiber, and .1g of sugar.
Olives are also rich in potassium, as well as vitamin E, a powerful antioxidant. Antioxidants have been shown to reduce certain types of cancers and chronic diseases.
Olives also contain large amount of sodium because of how they are traditionally packed and sold in salty brine.
Be mindful of how much sodium you’re consuming, so it doesn’t undo all the naturally occurring heart healthy benefit of olives.
It’s true: an apple a day may help to keep the doctor away. One medium golden delicious apple contains about 96 calories, 4g of fiber, and 17g of sugar.22
Often thought of as the “apple” in the story of Adam and Eve, the pomegranate is widely renowned for its anti-inflammatory and antioxidant benefits (25).
One cup of pomegranate kernels, also known as arils, contains 144 calories, nearly 7g fiber, and 24g sugar (26).
These sweet summertime berries are good for more than just shortcake. One cup of strawberries contains about 46 calories, 3g of fiber, and 7g of sugar.
They are also rich in potassium, folate, and vitamin C. Strawberries, and other vitamin C containing foods, can help support your immune system during cold seasons (29).
Strawberries owe their bright red color to anthocyanins, which are a powerful group of antioxidants. Anthocyanins can help improve heart health, such as reducing the risk of heart disease (30).
Pineapples feel like a treat because of their tropical origin. Pineapples are also packed with nutrients to support our health.
One cup of pineapple chunks contains about 83 calories, 2g of fiber, and 16g of sugar. Pineapple contains vitamin C, among other disease fighting antioxidants.
Antioxidants in pineapple, or other fruits, can help reduce free radicals in the body and prevent certain chronic diseases, such as diabetes, heart disease, and some cancers (31)
Bromelain may also help reduce inflammation in the body (34).
No matter how you slice it, fruit is an important part of a healthy overall diet. Aim for 2 to 2.5 cups of fruit each day. Be sure to consume a variety of fruits so that you get the unique health benefits each fruit offers.