Prepping Your Food for Maximum Nutritional Benefit: Fruits.
How we store and prepare our food has a significant impact on the nutrition we garner from them…or not.
Want to heal your body? Achieve glowing skin? A slimmer figure? Experience increased energy? Sleep better? Decrease joint pain and the risk of cancer? Diminish depression?
Who wouldn’t wish for those health benefits?
As most of us understand by now, food is medicine. It can also be poison. Thus, the choice of what you put into your body is a crucial and life-altering one.
However, it is not just about consuming the right foods to obtain optimal health. Even more crucial is how we prepare, store, and cook (or not) these various foods.
One type of food which is typically rife with antioxidants, nutrition, and all sorts of good-for-you ingredients can become the nutritional equivalent to cardboard, by cooking or storing it in the wrong way. Essentially serving at eliminating this otherwise healthy food of most, if not all of its nutritional value.
For many of us, we have been eating supposedly healthy foods which, because we have gone about cooking or preparing them incorrectly, have been largely void of nutritional content. We can change this though.
So, it’s not enough, merely following a healthy diet like Paleo or Keto. That is part one of taking steps toward a healthy lifestyle. Part two, equally as crucial, is making the time and effort to store and prepare those foods correctly so that you maintain the fullest nutritional values possible for each of these food items. And, the first step in doing this involves educating oneself on what these correct methods of storage and cooking might be.
The following fruits help significantly with the preventing and even combating of disease. However, to garner all of these bad-ass benefits, one needs to make sure to prepare them correctly to preserve and obtain all the nutrition they have on offer.
How to Store and Prepare Your Fruits for Fantastic Health
In terms of Apples, wild ones are vastly more nutritious than other cultured varieties. One wild species had 15 times more phytonutrients than the Golden Delicious variety. The most nutritious apples are Braeburn, Cortland, Discovery, Gala, Granny Smith, Honey Crisp, Idared, McIntosh, Ozark Gold, and Red Delicious.
You get even more nutritional bang for your buck if you choose the most colorful. The reddest fruits are the best choice. These have the most phytonutrients that, when eaten, strengthen your protection against chronic inflammation, high cholesterol, cancer, and cardiovascular disease.
Important: an unpeeled apple can give you 50% more phytonutrients than peeled. It might also lower the risk of cancer significantly. Eat the skin.
Berries have roughly four times more antioxidant activity than the majority of other fruits, and ten times more than most vegetables.
Blueberries. In animal studies, these bright blue beauties were shown to prevent tumor formation, slowing the growth of existing tumors. They also lower blood pressure, reduce arterial plaque buildup, and soothe inflammation. Blueberries can help prevent obesity and diabetes. Further, the more berries you consume, the less likely you are to die from a heart attack. Blueberries were even found to potentially decrease the progression of dementia. Even more extraordinary, they’ve been discovered to reduce the brain's aging process.
Cooked and canned blueberries have the highest level of antioxidants. Fresh is also excellent. Eat them quickly though, as they spoil fast. Frozen berries come close to as nutritious as fresh. Thawing them in the microwave is the best way to go, for preserving nutrients.
Many varieties of Blackberries have more anthocyanins than blueberries, and a lower glycemic index (meaning, they don’t cause your blood sugar levels to spike). These black jewels have 8–10 grams of fiber per one cup, making them a top source of this nutrient. Blackberries only last a couple of days, so eat them right away for optimal nutrition.
Strawberries are high in vitamin C and anthocyanins, which have anti-viral properties. Buy those that are completely red. The freshest berries have a bright red gloss. The redder, more aromatic, and most intensely flavored berries are the best for your health. Organic ones offer more protection against cancer. At room temperature, they become richer in antioxidants.
Cranberries have stratospheric antioxidant levels. They help prevent and treat bladder infections and are significantly anti-cancerous. They stay fresh for about a week.
Raspberries are loaded with fiber (12g per cup). The extracts from black raspberries have prevented colon cancer and esophageal cancer in rodents. Gary Stoner, Ph.D., was the lead investigator in a 2007 research project that involved 25 patients with newly diagnosed colon cancer. During the weeks leading up to their scheduled surgeries, the volunteers consumed a daily dose of 60g of freeze-dried black raspberry powder. When patient’s tumors were removed, the researchers discovered consuming the berries had slowed the growth rate of the cancer cells. The fact that patients had been consuming the berry extract for just 2–4 weeks makes it all the more remarkable. (Source on their cancer-fighting abilities: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5008867/).
Frozen berries and freeze-dried black raspberry powder are available (check online). The freeze-dried extract is the most effective though, as you get more nutrients than you would in say, capsule form.
The white-fleshed varieties of Peaches have far more antioxidants than most other types. The same is true for nectarines. Further, the skin is by far the most nutritious part, with several times more antioxidants than the flesh. (Source: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19857078). Though if you eat the skins, buy organically certified. Some of the most nutritious peach varieties: Snow Giant, Snow King, September Sun, Spring Crest, Brite Pearl, Red Jim, and Stark Red Gold. Be on the lookout for red-fleshed peaches, which are by far the highest in antioxidants.
Apricots have 3–8 times more phytonutrients than peaches or nectarines. The most nutritious and ripe ones will be plump and tight skinned. As well as, give slightly when touched in the middle. Dried apricots, though, are not great for you.
Cherries are top shelf in anthocyanins and have been shown to calm inflammation, as well as reduce several compounds linked with arthritis and gout (source: https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/cherries-benefits#section1). Luellings Bing and Brooks are two great varieties. The sour cherry Montgomery can reduce pain and inflammation, including soreness from strenuous exercise, as well as assist with speeding up muscle recovery after exercise.
Cherries expire rapidly though, so buy them fresh and eat soon thereafter. Fresh cherries are firm, shiny, and free of dents, bruises, or tiny pits. The stem should be bright green, supple, and firm.
Plums/Prunes, specifically the red, purple, blue, or black ones are best for your health. Some of these deeply pigmented fruits have even more phytonutrients than red cabbage, spinach, onions, or leeks. Prunes are higher in antioxidants than many other nutritious fruits. They also strengthen bones. Dried plums are an overlooked, inexpensive superfood that are rich in antioxidants. (Source: https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/benefits-of-plums-prunes#section6). Choose plums that have been dried without additional ingredients.
Red and Black Grapes are the most nutritious. Specifically, Concord grapes (aka, Welch’s Grape Juice). Studies have suggested the juice might slow memory loss that comes with aging. It can also make people's arteries more flexible and lower blood pressure. Further, the juice can thin the blood, reducing the risk of blood clots that trigger a heart attack or stroke. (Source: https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/271156#benefits). It has also protected normal breast cells from toxic chemicals that can damage cell DNA (often, the first step in the progression of cancer). Important thing: clean your grapes, as these are a pesticide heavy fruit. Also, buy organic. Keep them chilled and eat quickly, as they spoil fast.
Currents, which are tiny, seedless, thin-skinned dried grapes, have more phytonutrients than most dried fruit. Find an excuse to eat more of these. They are especially great in muffins or scones.
Oranges are another nutrient-dense fruit. Food scientists have discovered that they contain more than 170 individual phytonutrients. Together, their compounds provide more antioxidant protection than vitamin C itself. Further, oranges contain hesperidin. Animal studies show that this compound has the potential to relieve depression, calm inflammation, protect DNA from radiation damage, and slow the growth of several types of cancer. (Source: https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/272782#diet). To get these benefits though, one must eat an actual orange (as opposed to say, drinking Tang, a supposedly orange-flavored drink).
The Washington Naval has more phytonutrients per serving than other nutritious fruits and veggies, including red grapes, asparagus, yellow onions, and broccoli raab. It is also an excellent source of vitamin C, a good source of fiber, and does not cause a spike in blood sugar.
Organic oranges may be more flavorful and higher in nutrients than conventionally grown fruits, according to a 2006 European study. Eat your oranges within a few days though, or store in the fridge (not in a bag- as it traps too much moisture and promotes the growth of mold).
For Orange Juice, some of the least expensive brands have been found to contain more antioxidants than pricey ones. Juice made from concentrate has, on average, 4x more flavanoids than juice that is not concentrated. Odwalla and Organic Valley, “boutique” juices, are also great for you. Finally, juice with pulp is significantly more nutritious than without.
Lemons and Limes are rich in compounds and flavanones, which can have important antioxidant and anti-cancer properties. In a test tube study comparing anti-cancer properties of various fruits, lemons came out second only to cranberries. Lemons help preserve phytonutrients in other foods. Did you know, the squirting of a bit of fresh lemon juice in your teacup or teapot before brewing green tea increases the number of phytonutrients in the brew, as well as your ability to absorb them. (Source: https://lifehacker.com/add-lemon-to-green-tea-for-an-even-healthier-drink-1531650771).
Mangos have 5x more vitamin C than oranges, 5x more fiber than pineapples, and more phytonutrients than papayas. The redness of the mango is a good indicator of its freshness. Another way to predict ripeness is pressing on the mango, in which case, it should give slightly. We would do well to eat more mangos (something Americans tend not to consume a lot of).
Taking the time and effort to store and prepare your fruits as directed above, in combination with a Paleo or Keto diet, is a recipe for optimal health indeed. Food is medicine, so, wouldn’t you want to take the time to ensure that the medicine you are putting into your body is of the best quality and benefit?
Laundry List of Top Fruits to Grab When Limited:
- Oranges, Lemons, or Limes
Brooke is a food fanatic, dessert devotee, and impassioned writer. She studied health sciences in college, though she emerged with a degree in Communications, with concentrations in health and psychology. She is an avid reader of health books, articles, and more, as she finds reading to be one of the greatest and most worthy forms of education. Brooke is a routine writer on Medium.com, a “top writer” in several categories. She is the author of three blogs and has been published in a handful of online publications.
Originally published at https://www.superfat.com on May 1, 2020.