The exotic captures our imagination . . .
Common experiences – like going shopping or taking a bus ride – take on a whole new appeal when they’ve been dressed up with the frills of a foreign, unfamiliar culture.
It’s the same thing with foods. Look at the way super fruits like noni, acai and goji berries have grabbed our attention. You might start thinking that only fruits wrested from the heart of the rainforest or the mountains of Tibet have the same kind of startling nutrition these fruits do.
However, when you remove the exotic packaging, these fruits aren’t alone in the super fruit category. Many of our old and familiar – dare I say humdrum – fruits are actually quite stupendous.
In an earlier post, I talked about how to transform eating a piece of fruit into a business-transforming experience.
Here I’m going to share with you why you should be eating some of these familiar fruits. Better yet, you’re going to find out how these everyday fruits can be used strategically to help you get through some of the challenges life throws at you. When you nourish yourself with these stellar everyday fruits, a simple snack break can revolutionize your day with their super special nutrition.
Everyday Super Fruit #1: Watermelon – Energizing Refreshment
Right now I’m waiting with bated breath for my watermelon patch to start yielding fruits. (It had a setback when a hen snuck in and took a dustbath in it this spring!)
And here’s why I can’t wait . . .
Watermelon earns its name – it’s like biting into a glass of cool water with just enough sweetness. But there’s a lot more to the refreshment in this fruit than just it’s water.
- Watermelon contains an excellent supply of vitamin C and beta-carotene. Both these antioxidants suck up free radicals that zap you of energy as they damage your tissues. It also has more of the cancer-combatting carotenoid lycopene than tomatoes.
- When it comes to energizing you, watermelon contains vitamins B1 and B6 as well as magnesium. All of these are critical for energy production.
- Finally, watermelon provides a great supply of citrulline, the precursor for the amino acid arginine. This special nutrient has been clinically proven to improve blood flow, making sure every inch of your body gets nourished.
Whew! You can see why this is one of my favorite hot day energizers! We regularly bring a cooler of chilled watermelon chunks to track meets. My son’s been known to go through a quarter melon in 15 minutes. And I turn to it regularly for a pick-me-up when hot summer days make me want to call it quits early.
Everyday Super Fruit #2: Pineapple – Sore Muscles Be Gone
This spring I started eating a lot of pineapple. Pineapple juice made it into my spritzer and we had pineapple chunks lurking in the fridge while another pineapple ripened on the counter.
Why? I was nursing a sore back and my kids had track.
We had sore muscles all around.
Pineapple has long been used for tenderizing meat because of its special enzyme bromelain.
Bromelain is a digestive enzyme that helps break down proteins, a proteolytic enzyme. Plenty of people have found digestive relief just by adding bromelain to their diet as a supplement – or in the form of pineapple.
But enzymes like bromelain aren’t just for digestion.
- Since the 1950′s, enzymes have been used to help boxers and football players recover from injuries.
- More recent research shows that proteolytic enzymes like bromelain works better than prescription pain killers like diclofenac. It brought pain relief for arthritic hips, knees and shoulders.
- And it works so well that it’s become part of the standard first aid kit for several European Olympic teams.
Now admittedly, most of the research on bromelain has been on supplements, not the fresh fruit. However, one study did show that unpasteurized pineapple juice reduced inflammation in tendonitis – not as well as the supplement – but it still worked.
And come on – what a tasty way to treat aches and pains!
Everyday Super Fruit #3: Bananas – Great For Digestion, Brain Power And Weight Control
Bananas are cheap and filling. Two things that makes me love them as a budget-oriented mom. They’re easy-snacking.
But they’re much more than a low-budget bellyful.
- First of all bananas give your body vitamin C and vitamin B6 – two potent energizers. When it comes to brain power, B6 is essential for building neurotransmitters.
- Its whopping dose of potassium helps lower blood pressure and build bones. And if you’ve had a good workout – it will help your sore muscles.
Unfortunately too many folks bypass bananas because they’re worried that they’re too starchy, too sweet. They’re worried that a banana snack will just put pounds on their hips.
Here’s a secret – bananas are extremely low on the glycemic index – around 30. They have so much fiber that the sugar and starch in them are absorbed very slowly into the bloodstream.
Of course its spot on the glycemic index varies a bit depending on how ripe it is – the riper it is the more the starches have turned into sugars. But you still have a lot of playing room with this, keeping you in the safe zone for sugar spikes.
Finally, if your stomach starts to act up, bananas are part of the traditional BRAT diet for diarrhea and have been shown to help with ulcers as well.
As I said, I love bananas straight or with a hit of peanut butter to even the sweet out. You can even try chopping up some green ones and adding them to soup for a delicious and filling addition.
Everyday Super Fruit #5: Blueberries – Brain Power In A Tiny Package
Every summer my family hikes up our local mountain and spends the day with blueberry rakes and nimble fingers picking our year’s supply. After a few hours we’ve usually filled 2 five-gallon buckets. The buckets sit in the cool basement as we recover from the work. And then in the evening we pour them into cleaned, recycled ½-gallon milk cartons. And these go into the freezer.
Now there’s a reason we go through all this work to pick blueberries.
Blueberries are packed with special pigments called anthocyanins. These pigments act as powerful antioxidants and they are so plentiful in these little blue bombers that blueberries are probably one of the most antioxidant-rich fruits native to America.
Now here’s where it gets really good . . .
- Blueberries seem to help with memory and cognitive function. Their antioxidant protection seems to do particular good for your brain and nerves. In addition blueberries seem to help protect your eyes, heart and keep you safe from cancer.
- They are also incredibly high in vitamin K (good for bones) and vitamin C (good for everything from immunity to heart to energy) and manganese (essential for energy production).
Here’s a few tips to get the most out of blueberries:
1. Eat them raw, they can lose their antioxidant supply some when cooked. I wouldn’t foreswear a nice blueberry muffin. But make sure you toss some fresh ones into yogurt or on your oatmeal.
2. Store them frozen. Apparently, if frozen, blueberries don’t lose any of their antioxidant power. This was good news to me since we freeze 10 gallons and work through them year round until July rolls around again.
3. Eat them organic. One study showed that organic blueberries had higher levels of antioxidants as compared to conventionally grown berries.
My favorite way to enjoy blueberries is straight from the bush. When my daughter was 4 she watched a dog eat blueberries right from the bush . . . then promptly joined in – no hands.
But when the season ends, I love a handful tossed on my steel cut oats or sprinkled on pancakes.
Everyday Super Fruit #6: Avocado – Good, Energizing Fat
First of all, let me set the record straight: Avocados are a fruit.
We’ve gotten fat-phobic and unfortunately so many nourishing foods have been pushed to the side because of this. Even worse, our fears about fats have contributed to our growing waistlines.
Avocados were one of the casualties of the war on fat. Although recently they’ve seen a bit of a revival thanks to more good sense about good fats.
Creamy, green and filling avocados deserve the attention when it comes to good eating.
And they really deserve it when it comes to nutrition.
- Avocados are high in carotenoids like beta carotene and lutein. These antioxidants are excellent for the health of your skin and your eyes.
Better yet, the fat in avocado that’s so often vilified actually helps your body get the most out of these carotenoids.
- And these fats are really a good treat for your body. Mostly phytosterols and oleic acid, these fats help your body fight off heart disease. And when it comes to watching your weight, they can help you feel full longer if you add a bit to your breakfast or salad.
- Avocados have a tremendous dose of fiber, essential for healthy weight control and digestion.
- And last – but not least – avocadoes give you a good supply of L-carnitine. You may have heard of this amino acid since it’s in so many energizing supplements.
When you add some avocado to a meal you get not only good nutrition that fills you up longer, helping you lose weight. You also get a nice dose of energy that will help you get moving.
Everyday Super Fruit #7: Apples – They Do Keep The Doctor Away
They weren’t kidding – an apple a day keeps the doctor away. Really.
I first heard about apple’s exceptional phytonutrient, quercetin, when I was writing about champion bike rider and cancer survivor Lance Armstrong’s favorite sports drink. It has quercetin in it.
There’s a reason this super fit guy likes quercetin.
- Quercetin seems to boost your immunity.
- And when it comes to endurance and energy it seems to really make a difference.
Quercetin is also found in berries and onions. But apples are an pretty easy-to-find source – and they’re much better tasting than onions fresh.
Here’s a hint about apples, taken from farming lore . . .
We’ve discovered as we’ve tried to find the right kinds of apples to store over winter in our root cellar that the ones with the biggest bite back – more tang – keep better.
This sourness is from the vitamin C. And just like this antioxidant keeps the apples firmer over the winter months, it can keep you healthier when you bite into it.
So while any apple is a good addition to your diet – in general, the tarter, the more antioxidant power you’ll be getting.
One more piece of apple advice . . .
Apples rank very high in terms of fruits that show traces of pesticides. In fact they are number one on the Environmental Working Group’s Dirty Dozen List. On the whole, try to get organic apples so you can end up with only good stuff and few pesticides to worry about.
Go Get Some Everyday Super Fruits And Transform Your Day
You don’t have to get exotic to get some super fruit punch into your day.
These relatively common fruits can give you energy, take away aches and pains, help you stay trim and fight off heart disease, cancer and more.
Amazing medicine in a succulent snack.
My kids live on fruits – they actually fight over the last apples. (I guess they hate going to the doctors!)
And I swear by fruit breaks as the best pick-me-up ever when your work is dragging you down. Way better than coffee or 5- . . . 6-. . . 7-hour energy.
So stock up. Bite in and enjoy these everyday super fruits!
What’s your favorite fruit? Come tell us what it is and why you love it over on Facebook!