Take advantage of the wide variety of sun-kissed berries, mandarins, and other seasonal fruit grown throughout the region to keep diets lively instead of relying on the same old “apple a day” choices.
Fruit is nature’s candy, and its natural health benefits range from anti-inflammatory properties to better brain function and even sharper vision. For the past four years, Eriko Yamamoto, MS, RD, CNSC has worked as a clinical nutrition manager at Dameron Hospital in Stockton, and she recommends these Top 5 fruits for their unique advantages.
Blueberries are the tiny superfood widely known for its high levels of antioxidants that help promote bone health from its supply of vitamin K. The bite-sized berries are also known for their anti-aging properties from its source of vitamins A and C that directly affects collagen health. Most notably, because of its high levels of antioxidants, blueberries have the potential to decrease the risk of many diseases caused by oxidative stress. And because blueberries contain water, a handful will keep the skin better hydrated throughout the day.
“I try to eat them frequently for their antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. Easily enjoy them for breakfast by adding to yogurt or oatmeal. I keep a bag in the freezer,” Eriko says. “Blueberries have been studied for everything from aging to brain function, cancer to cardiovascular disease prevention, and also eye health.”
Low in both calories and sodium, but rich in vitamin C and fiber, Eriko says blackberries are one of the best sources of ellagic acid, which is tied to improved immune activity and has the ability to inhibit cancer formation. Blackberries also have a high folate makeup, a B-vitamin that is key for brain development and cell growth. While these dark berries grow on thorny bushes, the health benefits this plump fruit offers is that much sweeter.
Cherries are in full bloom in early May, but besides the range from sweet to tart, bright red to deep purple, cherries are great allies when fighting against inflammation and symptoms of gout, a disease that causes arthritis and affects the smaller bones of the feet.
“A research study shows that people with gout who ate one-half cup of cherries per day had a 35 percent lower risk for a gout attack,” Eriko says. “According to the American Institute for Cancer Research, the antioxidants in cherry juice and dried cherries are similar to fresh cherries and are foods that fight cancer.”
This fuzzy, little stone fruit serves as an excellent source of vitamin A, which is directly related to vision enhancement. Apricots are known as great sources of soluble fiber, they also break down fatty acids in the body quickly, and maintain healthy blood glucose and cholesterol levels. Plus, the potassium levels found in the fruit balance the electrolyte levels in the body and keep heart muscles healthy.
Smaller in size than the average orange—but not lacking in nutritional benefits—the mandarin is like nature’s best-kept beauty secret with its advantages for hair, skin, and overall health. The juice high in vitamin C is known to tighten skin for a natural face mask, and its antioxidants also help to lower bad cholesterol levels.
“A study found that people consuming more cryptoxanthin [found in mandaines] had lower BMI and body fat,” Eriko says. “Recent studies also highlight that eating more citrus can reduce the risk of Type II Diabetes.”