Trying to get in shape? Most fitness gurus agree that unless you change your diet, you’re wasting your workouts. But fear not — we’ve got your back. In addition to finding you this inspirational video, we’ve put together a handy index of fruit nutrition, largely based on our experience at the Woodstock Fruit Festival. Why fruit? Unlike most supposedly “healthy” snacks, fresh fruits are digested easily and provide a wide array of vitamins and minerals. Additionally, they deliver their sugars (i.e., energy) with a healthy dose of fiber, allowing you to digest glucose without the usual insulin spike and subsequent crash. Of course, it doesn’t hurt that they’re delicious.
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One of the most popular tropical fruits in the world, the mango packs a juicy, vitamin C-laden punch. It also contains lupeol, which, in test conditions, helps prevent prostate and skin cancer. Fun fact: when mangos first came to the American colonies in the 17th century, they had to be pickled due to lack of refrigeration, and until fairly recently the word “mango” doubled as a verb meaning “to pickle”. Enjoying them today is simple: peel and eat the yellow flesh.
Before the 1950s, the Gros Michel banana dominated the markets, but Panama disease made them unviable, placing the Cavendish squarely in the spotlight. Although there are over 1,000 banana varieties, this single one appears most often in American supermarkets. A pity, too — red bananas typically have more vitamin C and beta carotene. In order to get the highest nutritional content, eat the yellow ones when they acquire brown spots and the red ones when they turn black; the ones in this picture are underripe.
Nothing gets the, uh, bowels moving in the morning quite like half a watermelon. Like the banana, you’ve probably only eaten one or two varieties, though around 1,200 varieties (including square watermelons, yellow watermelons, orange watermelons and white watermelons) exist. Made of 91% water by weight (hence the name), they make an amazingly hydrating post-run snack. Just remember to eat slowly: melon belly, i.e., bloating caused by eating some fruits too quickly, is both real and painful.
Called kralpa vriksha in Sanskrit (“the tree which provides all necessities of life”) and pokok seribu guna (“the tree of a thousand uses”) in Malay, almost every part of the coconut tree can be utilized by humans. Most outwardly useful is the coconut fruit itself. Not actually a nut (it’s a drupe, in case you were curious), the coconut yields tender white meat to those strong enough to crack its shell. Even more prized by athletes, however, is coconut water, the electrolyte-filled liquid inside the fruit. Young fruit has more water and less meat; old fruit, the opposite.
A hybrid between the pomelo and the mandarin, the orange is the world’s most popular fruit, and for good reason: it’s a terrific source of both calories and vitamin C. A 16-ounce glass of fresh squeezed goodness contains over 200 calories, though the citric acid can upset sensitive stomachs. Because almost all citrus fruits (oranges, grapefruits, lemons, limes, etc.) belong to the same genus — citrus — they remain interfertile, resulting in a wide variety of hybrid plants and fruits.
Take a walk on the wild side with a bowl of lychees. Like the coconut (as well as peaches, cherries and nectarines), the lychee is a drupe, meaning that it has a fleshy skin that surrounds a pit that surrounds a seed. Typically found in Asia, this sweet, easy-to-peel fruit contains few negative properties — twenty or thirty of them fill you up without the stomachache that often accompanies traditional, processed snacks.
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A Middle Eastern staple, this calorie-dense, caramely fruit contains enough potassium to banish even the worst leg cramps. Dried, they are different than other fruits in that they can be stored in the fridge for up to a year. Properly stored, even the fresh fruit will last for up to 8 months. Blend with bananas and a little water for a high-potassium “daterade”.
All hail durian, king of fruits! Native to southeast Asia (where statues have been built in its honor), the mushy, cream-colored pulp provides a great source of raw fat (like the avocado), and one of taste’s most polarizing experiences. If you love the durian, you get notes of custard, caramelized sugar, and almonds; if not, onions and gym sock. Unless you live near Southeast Asia, be prepared to shell out top dollar (upwards of $15 per fruit) for this spiky treat.
Looking for a better way to get your daily intake of vitamin A, vitamin C and manganese? Check out the cantaloupe, the most popular melon in the United States. Believe it or not, it’s actually a member of the cucumber family. Cut it in half for two days of juicy, nutritious breakfast.
When we’re going through stressful times, we buckle down and listen to Elliot Smith; when blueberries undergo stress, they start producing phytonutrients, which have been identified as the key to the berry’s antioxidant properties. This explains why organic berries are healthier: because they’ve had to fend for themselves, the ones that survive until picking season are smaller, sweeter, and more packed with phytonutrients than their plump and spoiled brothers.
Pineapple has always gotten press among athletes for containing bromelaine, a natural anti-inflammatory, though fewer know about papain, an enzyme found in papayas. It works so well that when Harrison Ford ruptured a disk on the set of Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom, local medical authorities used papain to treat him. Grind the seeds for an alternate pepper to use at your next vegan dinner party.
And you thought it was just called the kiwi. Also known as the Macaque peach and the Chinese gooseberry, the kiwifruit achieved its most recent name change in 1959 when a New Zealand exporter suggested switching it to honor New Zealand’s national bird (which is also small, brown and fuzzy). It’s got more vitamin C than an equivalently sized orange, and also contains the protein-dissolving enzyme actinidain, which comes from the same family of anti-inflammatory enzymes as papain.
An apple a day keeps the doctor away…thank the 19th-century Welsh for that annoying aphorism. Though it’s not exactly true, apples, which are the most diverse food plant in the world, contain high amounts of both fiber and water. Just one or two can fill you up, meaning that they’re perfect for the dieting man hoping to lose a few pounds. The world’s biggest producer? China, which produces 50% of the world’s supply. The United States, in second place, comes in at a measly 6%.
We saved the best for last. Bonus points if you recognize this one. For the cherimoya — which Mark Twain called “the most delicious fruit known to man” — we’re skipping the health benefits to focus on the flavor: a mix of sweet strawberries, coconut, banana, and mango. Alternately known as “the custard apple”, the cherimoya mimics the durian’s exoticism without the polarizing taste. The only downside? Because of its sensitivity to temperature changes, they’re often not available outside their home growing regions of South America and California.
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