Shopping For Fruit

Health, Nutrition, Strategies Add comments

Fruits are great sources of fiber, vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, natural phenols, and other micronutrients that support your health.

But fruits have changed from what we ate in the past.  Check out this big, bright, sweet banana:

And compare it to this little, tough, starchy banana:

Guess which kind we originally ate?

Modern farming methods and chemical treatments have made our fruits larger, sweeter, brighter, and more uniform in shape – with much less of the micronutrients that play keys roles in our bodies.

Essentially, modern fruits are just bright containers of sugar and water.

Compare this to the fruits that we ate through our evolution (when we could get them): paleo fruits were small, varied, very fibrous, deeply colored, less sweet, and less insulin-surging than modern fruits.

So, how can you get the healthiest fruits possible if old-school fruits aren’t available?

Well, researchers have found that organic fruits have at least 10 times the amount of key micronutrients (think antioxidants!) than the same fruit from a conventional orchard (“normal” fruits are sprayed with pesticides and herbicides that prevent the fruit from producing those micronutrients).

Organic isn’t your only solution though – many organic fruits are raised half a world away and are picked prematurely, so they will ripen during transit.  These premature fruits are less nutritious because they didn’t finish their growth on a vine or branch.

Here are some tips to help you when you’re shopping for fruit:

Shopping For Fruit: Pesticides?

Fruits with a higher pesticide risk are those with a soft and edible skin

  • Apples
  • Apricots
  • Cherries
  • Dates
  • Grapes
  • Nectarines
  • Peaches
  • Pears
  • Plums
  • Prunes
  • Raisins
  • Raspberries
  • Strawberries
  • Tomatoes

Fruits with a lower risk for pesticides have a tough and inedible skin:

  • Avocados
  • Bananas
  • Oranges
  • Melons
  • Tangerines
  • Mandarins (“Cuties”)
  • Kiwi
  • Pineapples
  • Mangoes
  • Papayas

Shopping For Fruit: Nutrition?

High nutritional value fruits are high in antioxidants and low-glycemic:

  • All berries
  • Stone Fruits

Fruits with good nutritional value have less antioxidants and are higher-glycemic:

  • Apples
  • Cherries
  • Bananas
  • Kiwi
  • Pomegranates

Fruits that are a “sometime treat” are low in antioxidants and higher in sugars:

  • Dates
  • All dried fruits
  • Grapes
  • Mangoes
  • Melons
  • Nectarines
  • Oranges
  • Mandarins
  • Papayas
  • Pineapples
  • Plums
  • Tangerines

Shopping For Fruit: Farming Method?

The growing method that created your fruit may be the most important key to your health.  A berry that is supposed to have high antioxidants but was grown on a huge farm with pesticides and herbicides, then picked early and shipped 2,000 miles in a shipper filled with ethylene gas probably isn’t as healthy for you as an apple from a tree in your neighbor’s backyard.

Growing methods, from best to worst, are:

Wild: Hard to find, but your best choice (go berry picking this fall!  Just watch out for bears…)

Local and Organic: High in nutrition, great taste, very safe

Local: Better than remote and organic because of freshness and being picked when ripe

Remote and Organic: Not so good due to premature picking and long transport

Remote: This is what is available at most grocery stores.  Avoid this as much as possible – there’s lower nutritional value and higher pesticide risk.

Genetically Modified Fruit: Yeah, not a good idea

Now, I totally get that eating better fruits is more expensive, but who would you rather pay: Your farmer or your doctor?  Check out this video for a great viewpoint on choosing local foods: Local Food Rocks!

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