If you've ever wondered about the role of fruit in a healthy diet, you're not alone.
Because of the popularity of low-carb and keto diets, as well as consumers' increased sugar awareness, many people believe it is best to limit (or, worse, avoid) fruit consumption entirely.
Fruit, on the other hand, can and should be included in a healthy diet because it provides anti-inflammatory benefits that you don't want to miss out on.
While fruits do contain sugar, it is a natural form of sugar (rather than added sugar, which has been linked to obesity and chronic health issues), as well as fiber, antioxidants, and bioactive compounds. When possible, choose some of these top anti-inflammatory fruits to get the most bang for your buck.
Research suggests that both sweet and tart cherry varieties lower inflammatory blood proteins to offer pain relief effects comparable to ibuprofen. In fact, the Arthritis Foundation suggests eating cherries as a way to ease joint issues related to arthritis and gout.
Anthocyanins and other polyphenolic compounds in cherries appear to reduce inflammation by stopping potential free radicals from damaging cells, but they may also help one get more restful sleep—a lifestyle factor that's key in preventing and easing inflammation. Cherries appear to do this by increasing melatonin levels and stopping inflammatory cytokines that disrupt sleep.
When it comes to vitamin C, oranges tend to get all the credit, yet the reality is that one cup of strawberries provides 100% of daily vitamin C—more than a medium orange! While the vitamin provides a host of benefits, getting adequate vitamin C is particularly important for proper immune functioning since inflammation occurs when the immune system becomes stressed and overworked. The antioxidant vitamin also offers additional anti-inflammatory benefits by stopping free radicals from damaging cells to trigger new inflammation.
A refreshing treat in hot summer months, watermelon is known for being sweet and juicy, but the melon's nutritional perks are rarely mentioned. However, watermelon is one of the few food sources of lycopene, a powerful compound that's responsible for the melon's pink-red hue and protects the body free radicals damage. Research suggests that lycopene offers an antioxidant-like protection that may prevent cell mutations, halt cancer growth, and reduce risks of Alzheimer's disease, heart disease, and diabetes risk.
Apples don't have as near as many of the antioxidant-like compounds that berries do, but they can reduce inflammation in another way by strengthening your gut microbiome. Apples contain around 3 grams of fiber, a large portion of which is a soluble, fermentable type called pectin which good bacteria strains in the gut need to thrive and grow. Often referred to as prebiotics, these fibers can improve the composition of microbes in the gut. Doing this creates a stronger intestinal lining that fewer inflammatory compounds can cross to get into the body.
Pineapples contain bromelain, a unique enzyme that has anti-inflammatory, anti-clotting and anti-cancer effects. Bromelain shows the greatest potential in preventing cancer growth by suppressing inflammatory factors that promote cell mutation and metastasis, and therapeutic supplements of bromelain may even provide some pain relief for certain forms of arthritis.