Every fruit is healthy—especially when you consider the fact that nearly 90 percent of Americans don’t eat enough of them—but still, some are healthier than others, and damn it, I’m feeling pedantic. And so, I asked Dana Hunnes, senior dietitian at the Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical Center, to help me rank the most popular fruits in America by how healthy they are.
But first: “I’d like to preface this ranking with the fact that all fruits are healthy,” Hunnes echoes. “Most of the time, they’re essentially pre-packaged bundles of vitamins, minerals, potassium, antioxidants (in the form of natural color) and healthy, natural sugars. As such, ranking them by their healthfulness can be somewhat difficult, because they’re all healthy, and it’s hard (though not impossible!) to eat too many of them—unless you have diabetes, and therefore, need to closely monitor your sugar intake.”
Keeping that in mind, let’s rank some fruits…
1. Blackberries: “Blackberries are high in fiber thanks to all those seeds, and their dark coloring provides several antioxidants (such as anthocyanins, vitamin C, vitamin A and vitamin K),” Hunnes explains. Each of these antioxidants plays a role in reducing the development of certain diseases. “These are also low in calories, at 60 calories per cup.”
2. Blueberries: “Blueberries are high in fiber, and their dark coloring provides antioxidants and phytonutrients,” Hunnes says. Phytonutrients possess an impressive list of health benefits. They have antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties, while also providing support for the immune system, repairing DNA from exposure to toxic chemicals and detoxifying carcinogens (which reduces cancer and heart disease risks). “They also contain vitamin C and manganese [which promotes normal brain and nerve function] and come in at about 85 calories per cup.”
3. Strawberries and Raspberries (tied): “These are high in fiber, vitamin C, potassium [which decreases the risk of stroke and lowers blood pressure] and folate,” Hunnes says. “They come in at about 50 calories per cup (uncut), and they’re great for pregnant women.” That’s because they contain an array of vitamins and antioxidants that help support the baby’s skin cells and immune system.
5. Cherries: “Their dark coloring means that they have a lot of antioxidants and phytonutrients, which are both good for your body,” Hunnes explains. “They’re also a good source of vitamin C, calcium [which improves bone health], vitamin A, iron [which supports the circulatory system] and fiber. Cherries come in at about 75 calories per cup.”
6. Avocados: Yes, they’re a fruit. In fact, they’re technically a berry. “While high in calories for a fruit [the average medium avocado contains approximately 227 calories], avocados are also very high in potassium, so they’re very good at helping control blood pressure,” Hunnes says. “They’re also great sources of monounsaturated fat, and they help with satiety as well as weight control. Finally, they’re fairly high in copper [which improves energy production], folate and vitamin K. The only reason I rated avocados fifth, as opposed to higher, is because they’re higher in calories (so you need to be somewhat mindful of portion size) and because they may have lower-doses of antioxidants due to their less vibrant hue.”
7. Red Grapes: “Red grapes contain more antioxidants and anthocyanins than green grapes, which can be owed to their darker color,” says Hunnes. “They have about 90 calories per cup, and contain less fiber than berries, but they’re still good sources of vitamin C and K.”
8. Watermelon: “Watermelon is a great source of water (each bite of watermelon contains about 92 percent water), vitamin A, vitamin B6 [which helps the body regulate mood and cope with stress], vitamin C, lycopene [a very healthy phytonutrient that may reduce the risk for certain cancers] and other antioxidants,” Hunnes says. “Watermelon is also low-ish in calories (containing approximately 50 per cup), but because it’s so refreshing, it’s easy to eat too much watermelon”
9. Cantaloupe and Honeydew (tied): “These are great sources of vitamin K, vitamin C, vitamin A, various B vitamins, potassium, magnesium [which can fight depression], copper and fiber,” Hunnes explains. “You cannot go wrong with these melons. When eating the seeds of the cantaloupe, you can also get a good dose of plant-based omega-3 fatty acids [which decrease inflammation and control blood pressure]. Both contain only around 50 calories per cup.”
11. Oranges: “Known for their high levels of vitamin C, oranges are also good sources of folate (which again, is great for pregnant women), thiamine [which helps the body break down carbohydrates] and potassium,” says Hunnes. “Oranges are also fairly high in fiber and flavonoids, which may be anti-inflammatory. They only have about 50 calories per orange.”
12. Peaches: “These are fairly high in vitamin C, vitamin A and potassium,” Hunnes says. “They also only contain about 60 calories per peach.”
13. Pineapples: “Pineapples are a good source of B vitamins, manganese, magnesium, potassium and fiber,” Hunnes explains. “But they’re a little more calorie-dense than other fruits, at 82 calories per cup.”
14. Cranberries: “These are high in vitamin C and fiber,” Hunnes says. “They’re also a good source of d-mannose sugar, which may help reduce the risk of urinary tract infections.” Or not, as the case may be.
15. Bananas: “These are high in potassium, vitamin C, vitamin B6 and magnesium,” Hunnes explans. “The less ripe they are, the more resistant starch (fiber) they contain, which may serve as a food-source (prebiotic) for probiotics (good gut bacteria). The average banana contains about 100 calories.”
16. Pears and Apples (tied): “These are good sources of fiber, and they’re fairly low in potassium, so they’re good for individuals who might have kidney disease,” Hunnes says (when kidneys fail, they can no longer process excess potassium). “These range from 70 to 100 calories each.”
18. Lemons and Limes (tied): “These are high in vitamin C, and since most people don’t just sit there scarfing down lemons and limes, they have very few calories,” Hunnes says.
So there you have it. Avocados are berries! Bananas are healthier than apples! Lemons are trash! Our world has been turned upside dooowwwwnnn…