Common fruits from around the world and their unique health benefits
Fruits are a storehouse of essential vitamins and minerals vital to a multitude of body functions. Maintaining a healthy supply of fruits in your daily diet can help prevent various health issues such as heart diseases, stroke, cholesterol spike, cancer, skin diseases, vision loss and more. It is considered ideal to take at least seven to eight servings of fruit each day. However, some fruits tend to have greater nutrient content and more health benefit than the others. Given below is a list of some important and common fruits from around the world together with their unique health benefits and histories.
Until the nineteenth century, grapefruit was commonly known as Shattuck or shaddock. The name grapefruit is quite recent and was adopted mainly due to the way it grows in a cluster bearing a resemblance to grapes. Grapefruit is considered to be one of the healthiest and the most nutritious among the fruits belonging to the citrus family. It is very rich in vitamins and minerals and is known to be highly beneficial in promoting weight loss and reducing the insulin resistance.
According to a study made on 91 subjects for assessing the effectiveness of grapefruit in weight loss, it was revealed that those who consumed half a grapefruit before meals lost 1.3 kg more than those who did not. The same study also revealed that the subjects who consumed grapefruit have lower levels of blood insulin and reduced resistance to insulin. In addition to the above health benefits, grapefruits are also known to be effective in preventing kidney stones and reducing cholesterol levels.
Pineapple is a tropical fruit believed to have originated from the Parana-Paraguay river drainages, and it was spread across South America by the natives of Paraguay and Southern Brazil. It was only much later that pineapple was cultivated by the Aztecs and the Mayans in Mexico, the Caribbean and Central America.
Pineapple is highly nutritious and a single cup of pineapple measuring about 237 ml can be equivalent to 76% of the RDI (reference daily intake) for manganese and 131% of the RDI for Vitamin C. It also supplies the body with bromelain, which is a mixture of enzymes known to have protein digesting and anti-inflammatory properties. As per the reports obtained from the test tube and animal studies, it is believed that pineapple may also provide protection against tumor growth and cancer.
Avocado is a flowering tree belonging to the family of Lauraceae. It is believed to have originated in south-central Mexico around 7000 to 5000 B.C. However, this was the wild variety of pomegranate and the fruit trees that given modern pomegranate were only taken for cultivation after several millennia. Avocado is quite different from other fruits and is categorized as a superfood. Unlike other fruits, avocado has very low carbohydrate content and instead has a higher quantity of fats. Most of the fast found in avocado are oleic acid and monounsaturated fats associated with a decrease in inflammation and promoting heart health.
Apart from the healthy fats, avocado is also very rich in fiber, magnesium, and potassium. Consuming one avocado can provide 28% of the RDI for potassium. It can help in lowering the risk of heart strokes and reducing blood pressure.
The history of blueberries dates back to the pre-colonial times. It is a fruits species believed to have originated from North America. It belongs to the genus Vaccinium and has a close tie to cranberry, azalea, and rhododendron. Blueberries are a very rich source of antioxidants and have a multitude of health benefits. They are especially very rich in vitamin C, vitamin K, fiber, and manganese.
Studies have revealed that blueberries can reduce the risk of diabetes, heart disease and Alzheimer’s. A regular consumption of blueberries can even increase the number of natural killer cells in the body, thereby enhancing immunity. It can be highly effective in defending the body against viral infections and oxidative stress. Older adults who regularly consumed blueberries were shown to have improved memory. Hence, it is believed that it can also have protective effects on the brain, mainly owing to its rich content of antioxidants.
Apples are obtained from a deciduous tree belonging to the rose family. The modern apple trees are classified as Malus pumila while its ancestor, known to have originated from the Central Asia is known as Malus sieversii. Apples were mainly grown in Europe and Asia for thousands of years before it was brought to North America by the European colonists. Apples also have mythological significances in various cultures including the Greek, Norse, European and Christian.
Apples are one of the most commonly cultivated of all fruits and have a very high consumption rate. They are rich sources of nutrition and contain very high amounts of Vitamin K, Vitamin C, potassium, and fiber. They also have decent vitamin B content. Since they are very rich in antioxidants, they are believed to be beneficial in promoting heart health and reducing the risk of cancer, Alzheimer’s and type 2 diabetes. The test tube studies and studies made on animals have also suggested it to be effective in increasing the bone density. They also have a high pectin content, due to which they are thought to be effective in improving metabolic health and digestion.
Pomegranate trees are native to the Himalayan belt in the Northern part of India and have been widely cultivated throughout southeast parts of Asia, Malaya, Tropical Africa and East Indies. Pomegranates are very dense in many powerful plant compounds and are believed to be one of the healthiest among fruits. The antioxidant content in pomegranates can be three times higher than red wine and green tea, due to which they tend to have high anti-inflammatory properties. They also help in reducing the risk of cancer and promoting general health.
Mango trees are native to southern parts of Asia, mainly eastern India and Burma. They were taken to eastern Asia, Malaya and eastern Africa a very long time ago and were later introduced to California during the 1880s. There are mainly two races of mango trees, the one belonging to India and the other belonging to the Philippines.
Mangoes are known to be a very rich source of vitamin C. They also have strong anti-inflammatory properties due to the rich antioxidant content. They can provide protection against diabetes and also reduce the risk of contracting diseases.
The first garden variety of strawberries was probably grown during the late 18th century in Brittany, France. Before this, it was only the wild varieties that were consumed as a fruit. Strawberries have also been mentioned several times in the ancient Roman literature, mainly or its medicinal properties.
Strawberries are highly nutritious and rich sources of manganese, folate, potassium, and vitamin C. They also have a very low glycemic index as compared to other fruits. Therefore, diabetics can consume strawberries without any risk of a spike in blood glucose. They have a high content of antioxidants and tend to offer various health benefits including cancer prevention and reduced risk for tumor growth and chronic diseases.
Cranberries are native to North America where they are grown in long vines along the marshes and sandy bogs. Although they are most common I the northeast, they can also be harvested in the other parts including Wisconsin, Pacific Northwest, and Chile.
Cranberries have a number of health benefits. They are rich sources of vitamin K1, copper, vitamin C, manganese and vitamin E. They also have a high content of flavanol polyphenols which accounts for its strong ant oxidative properties. Cranberries contain A-Type proanthocyanidins which can be effective in preventing the bacteria from attaching to the urinary tract and lining of the bladder. Due to this, they are popularly used in the prevention and treatment of urinary tract infections.
Although the origin of lemon is not known, they are thought to have first grown either in Burma, China or Assam, a region in northeast India. They are thought to be a hybrid of citron and the bitter orange. These citrus fruits are very rich in vitamin C and are known to be beneficial in improving heart health and lowering the blood pressure and lipids. Several studies have also indicated it to be effective in preventing weight gain and treating kidney stones.
Durian has also been nicked as the king of fruits. It is mainly popular in Southeast Asia and is very distinctive for its pungent smell, large size, and rough rind. There are about 30 recognized species of Durio. However, not all the species produce fruit. Out of the 30, at least 9 species are known to bear fruit. 237 ml of Durian can provide 80% of RDI for vitamin C. Apart from that; it is also very rich in magnesium, B vitamins, copper, folate, and manganese. Since it contains several powerful antioxidant compounds, it tends to offer many different benefits for promoting general health.
Watermelons can be found in diverse genes ranging from bitter to bland to sweet. They are considered to be indigenous to tropical Africa. They are rich in vitamins A, C and important antioxidants like carotenoids, cucurbitacin B, lycopene, and carotenoids. Due to its rich nutrient content, it is thought to be helpful in preventing cancer and tumor growth. It can also help in promoting heart health and maintaining healthy levels of blood pressure and cholesterol. Since they are almost 92% water, watermelons can be very hydrating and enhance satiety.
Olives are one of the oldest cultivated trees, known to have been growing even before language was invented. It originated from Crete and was later spread to the Mediterranean shores of Southern Europe and Africa by the Phoenicians. They are very rich in calcium, copper, iron, and vitamin E. Due to a rich content of oleic acid and antioxidants, they are known to be powerful antioxidants and beneficial in the prevention of liver damage and heart diseases. Several studies have also suggested its effectiveness in lowering the risk of osteoporosis.
Ancient cultures probably regarded blackberries as a wild plant and there not many references to it in history. However, there are a few pieces of evidence that suggest its use by the Greeks in alleviating the symptoms of gout and among the Romans for treating various illnesses mainly by consuming the brewed leaves.
Blackberries are packed with fibers, minerals, vitamins, and antioxidants. They also have very high amounts of manganese, vitamin C, and vitamin K. It can help in reducing inflammation and reverse the aging of arteries. Secondary to these effects, it can also help in providing protection against cancer, heart diseases, and other chronic illnesses.
It is believed that oranges may have originated in northeastern India, southern China or in southeastern Asia during 2500 BC. They are highly nutritious and one of the most popular fruits in the world. One orange can supply the body with a remarkable quantity of potassium and vitamin C. They are also very rich in folate, thiamine and vitamin B. Oranges tend to have a large number of health benefits and are known to prevent anemia, promote iron absorption and reduce the risk of kidney stones, mainly owing to the rich amount of citric acid, carotenoids, and flavonoids. The amount of citric acid and vitamin C in oranges is comparable to that of lemons.
Bananas are native to South East Asia and were taken back to the west by the Arab conquerors. They were further carried along to Africa and the Caribbean by the missionaries and the explorers. Due to their high vitamins and minerals content, bananas tend to have quite a few health benefits. They are especially very rich in potassium, and a single banana can account for 12% of the RDI for potassium. They also have a high carbohydrate content, which makes them a good and healthy substituent for other unhealthy carbohydrates sources. Unripe green bananas can be especially helpful in improving digestive health and controlling blood sugar due to their pectin content and large amounts of resistant starch.