Bored with bananas? Aggravated with apples? Grumbling about grapes? Me too. But if you’re like me you discipline yourself to stay healthy. Is it any wonder most people have trouble sticking with a healthy diet? Well I have some hope for you my friends. Below are some alternatives to the old fruit standards to rejuvenate your palate while maintaining your healthy lifestyle.
What was Beethoven’s favorite fruit? Banananaaaas! (That joke is better told out loud where the punch line can be sung to the tune of Beethoven’s 5th.) But, I think even he would get sick of them after a while… although in truth I’m not sure how plentiful bananas were in 19th century Germany. Anyway, bananas are not only a staple in every blended smoothie but essential for the maintenance of good blood pressure. Nonetheless too many bananas can make anyone go “blah!”. As an alternative, try fresh figs (no not in your smoothie). Six fresh figs have 891 mg of blood pressure-lowering potassium, nearly 20% of your daily need — about double what you’d find in one large banana. In a recent 5-year study from the Netherlands, high-potassium diets were linked with lower rates of death from all causes in healthy adults age 55 and older. Figs are also one of the best fruit sources of calcium, with nearly as much per serving as ½ cup of fat-free milk! You’re bones will love you for it.
Interested in fighting disease and protecting your heart but gagging on grapes? Try lychee. A French study published in the Journal of Nutrition found that lychee has the second-highest level of heart-healthy polyphenols of all fruits tested — nearly 15% more than the amount found in grapes. The compounds may also play an important role in the prevention of degenerative diseases such as cancer. “Polyphenols act like a force field, helping to repel foreign invaders from damaging your cells,” says David Grotto, RD, author of 101 Foods That Could Save Your Life! As well, a recent test-tube and animal study from Sichuan University in China found that lychee may help to prevent the formation of breast cancer cells, thanks to the fruit’s powerful antioxidant activity.
Everyone wants great skin but who could eat so many oranges. Not me, so I maintain my glow with guava. One cup of guava has nearly five times as much skin-healing vitamin C (it’s a key ingredient in collagen production) as a medium orange (377 mg versus 83 mg) — that’s more than five times your daily need. Women who eat a lot of vitamin C-packed foods have fewer wrinkles than women who don’t eat many, according to a recent study that tracked the diets of more than 4,000 American women ages 40 to 74. Guava can also protect against foodborne pathogens such as Listeria and Staph, according to research by microbiologists in Bangladesh. As well, a cooperative study by the USDA and Thai scientists found that guava has as much antioxidant activity as some well-known superfoods like blueberries and broccoli.
Apples are great at lowering cholesterol but terrible if you want to stay in the Garden of Eden. So why not avoid the snake and eat asian pears. One large Asian pear has nearly 10g of cholesterol-lowering fiber, about 40% of your daily need; a large apple has about half that much. People who ate the most fiber had the lowest total and “bad” cholesterol levels, according to a recent study of Baltimore adults. The same researchers found that people who ate the most fiber also weighed the least and had the lowest body mass index and waist circumference.
Now I don’t want cancer but I also don’t want any more watermelon for crying out loud. Now papaya’s have a weird seed thing going on too but it’s still one of the top sources of beta-crypoxanthin, which research suggests can protect against lung cancer. Like watermelon, it is also a rich source of lycopene which, research shows, protects against several different types of cancer, including stomach, endometrial, and prostate. Papayas also promote healing. When used topically it may help speed burn recovery thanks partly to the enzyme papain, which also aids in digestion. “Papain helps break down amino acids, the building blocks of protein,” says Elisa Zied, RD, an American Dietetic Association spokesperson.
So there you have it, variety in the world of fruit mundanity. Remember, most of these alternatives can also be juiced or blended so there’s no more excuses.