Picking the right fruits

Aug 10, 2014

One of the perks of summer in New York state is the ability to purchase local fruit.  While every kind of fruit is healthier than most other foods, choosing certain kinds of fruit and preparing them the correct way can significantly increase their nutritional benefits.

This week on “Take Care,” Dr. Jo Robinson discusses which fruits are the healthiest and how to select and store them.  Robinson is a health writer and investigative journalist.  Her most recent book is “Eating on the Wild Side:  The Missing Link to Optimum Health.”

Click 'Read More' to hear our interview with Dr. Robinson.

When shopping for groceries, it can be easier to simply grab the nearest fruit without carefully determining its variety and brand.

“You have to be a picky shopper,” Robinson says.

The fruit that we eat today is very different from the fruit that our ancestors ate hundreds of years ago.  Robinson says that there has been a general dietary shift to fruits that are sweet but have fewer nutrients.

“Our job now is to find those varieties that we really want to eat but have retained some of those nutrients that we’ve lost along the way.”

Robinson says that berries are one of the best choices because they are very high in antioxidants.  Freezing berries or purchasing frozen berries does not diminish their nutritional content, but the method you use to thaw them can.

Robinson says that microwaving frozen berries maintains their antioxidants more than letting them thaw on their own. 

“They [berries] have an enzyme that’s going to be destroying the antioxidants the longer it takes to thaw.”

She also suggests dusting berries with sugar before freezing them to help preserve their antioxidants.

Apples are another healthy fruit, although certain types are better for you than others.  Cortland and Honeycrisp varieties are two examples of good choices.  Organic apples are better because they do not contain as many pesticides and chemicals.

Robinson also recommends concord grapes, as they can lower blood pressure and help prevent and reduce symptoms of dementia.

Although melons are generally low in antioxidants, watermelon is an exception in that it is very high in lycopene, a chemical that is linked with a lower risk of heart disease.

Conventional knowledge dictates that refrigerating fruit is the best way to store it, but leaving some fruit out of the refrigerator can actually increase its antioxidants, as long as it stays in that environment for no longer than a couple of days.  Watermelon is an example of such fruit.

Even if you choose the organic fruits, it is still important to wash them prior to eating in order to eliminate any chemicals or contaminants.

Robinson says that “a good scrub and a rinse will do it.”