An apple a day may keep the doctor away, but it won’t be much help if you’re trying to slim down. Recent research reviewed studies on the link between fruit and vegetable consumption and weight gain, concluding that eating more of them won’t take the pounds off—not without an overall reduction in the number of calories consumed.
Before you forsake the farmer’s market though, keep in mind that your favorite fruits and vegetables still have a bevy of amazing health benefits. Here, 6 reasons to load up (and the best fruits and veggies to reach for):
They can help protect you from allergic reactions.
Make sure you’re eating your applies with the skin on—it contains an antioxidant that has antihistamine properties. One study even found that people who eat five apples a week have better lung function than people who don’t.
They can lower blood pressure.
Not only can foods rich in potassium lower blood pressure, you can get the benefits without eating bananas all day. In fact, bananas don’t even rank in the top 10 of best sources of potassium—instead, reach for baked sweet potatoes, beet greens, winter squash, prune juice, and carrot juice.
They can fight signs of aging and age-related diseases.
Ever heard of anthocyanins? They’re antioxidant flavonoids that do a ton for you, protecting you against cognitive decline (not to mention cancer, diabetes, and heart disease). Good thing they’re so easy to spot—anthocyanins are what provide berries and plants with their rich red, blue, and purple colors. Find them in berries (like acai, blueberries, blackberries, cherries, and cranberry), as well as blue corn, eggplant, and red cabbage.
They boost your immune system.
You probably equate vitamin C—a huge immune system booster that also protects against cardiovascular diseases and eye disease—with oranges. But other fruits and vegetables pack an even bigger punch. Opt for guava, sweet red pepper, and kiwis, which have over the daily recommended amount of vitamin C per serving.
They can reduce your cholesterol and lower your risk of heart disease.
Dietary fiber helps lower your cholesterol and risk of heart disease, in addition to keeping bowels moving and helping you feel full. Tired of beans? Grab fiber-rich veggies and fruits like artichoke, baked sweet potato (with the peel), Asian pears, pumpkin, and spinach.
They keep bones and teeth healthy.
You don’t need to eat dairy to get your fill of calcium. Other great sources include collard greens, turnip greens, spinach, kale, and okra.