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Topic summary contributed by volunteer(s): Randy

Most Americans don’t eat enough fruit, with only 3% of calories coming from fruit on average. One study estimated that greater worldwide fruit intake could save an additional 4.9 million lives each year. Greater fruit intake appears to help lower the risk for heart disease and cancer mortality, as well as help extend overall lifespan. Nutritional problems of fructose and sugar seem to come when they are added to foods, but not as a natural part of whole fruit.

Whole fruit raises fiber intake, which helps slow the rate of fruit sugar absorption into the bloodstream—a key reason why whole fruit is almost always better than fruit juice. Smoothies made from whole plant foods helps boost fruit and vegetable intake, although eating whole fruit may be more filling than consuming the same amount in a smoothie.

To get a full range of phytonutrients and the best phytonutrient absorption, one should eat a variety of fruits and vegetables, both raw and cooked. Fruits contain antioxidants, magnesium, and other minerals. There appear to be no consistent differences in the levels of vitamins and minerals in organic versus conventionally grown produce, but organic fruits and vegetables have more phenolic phytonutrients. The preservative sulfur dioxide can be avoided by buying organic dried fruit.

Obesity-causing pollutants found in fish are found in significantly lower levels in fruits and vegetables. One should wash fruit to reduce pesticide residues and noroviruses. Those eating sour fruit may risk tooth enamel erosion, but rinsing with water after eating should reduce the risk. One study found that higher intake of high-fiber foods, especially fruits, may slow down periodontal disease progression

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See also acai berries, amla, apples, apricots, avocados, barberries, bananas, berries, bibhitaki fruit, bilberries, black raspberries, blackberries, cherries, cranberries, crowberries, cucumbers, currants, dates, dragon fruit, dried fruit, exotic fruit, fruit juice, Fuji apples, gala apples, goji berries, golden delicious apples, golden raisins, gooseberries,  granny smith apples, grapefruit, grapes, guava, haritake fruit, lemons, mango, mangosteen, noni fruit, olives, oranges, papaya, peaches, pears, peppers, pineapples, plant-based diets, plantains, plums, pomegranates, prunes, pumpkin, raisins, raspberries, strawberries, tart cherries, tomatoes, watermelon, and whortleberries.

Image Credit: Natalia Klenova © 123RF.com. This image has been modified.

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