Fruits are very important for your health. Eating fruits every day means that you are less likely to get sick or suffer from long-term illnesses like heart disease, diabetes and cancer. Maintaining a healthy diet also makes you less likely to have a heart attack or a stroke. Lots of fruits contain fiber and potassium and eating them also lowers the risk of developing kidney stones and high blood pressure. They also keep bones strong! Most fruits are naturally low in things that can be harmful to your body including calories and sodium and cholesterol. In fact, no fruits have cholesterol in them!
Although children don’t have to worry about a lot of those health problems, keeping a good diet in childhood will lower health risks in the future when they grow into adults. Below are some facts about the most popular kinds of fruit.
Apples have no fat, sodium or cholesterol in them and they are an excellent source of fiber. More than 2,500 varieties of apples are grown in the United States but only the crabapple is native to North America. Apples grow on trees and come in different colors, although green and red are the most common. An apple tree takes four to five years to produce its first fruit. Apples range in size. Most can fit into the palm of an adult person’s hand but some can be as tiny as a cherry. The largest apple ever picked weighed three pounds! The top apple producers around the world are China, United States, Turkey, Poland and Italy. Apples account for 50 percent of international fruit tree production and it takes about 36 apples to create one gallon of apple cider.
Oranges are sometimes regarded as being the healthiest food on earth. Oranges are also tasty. A recent study showed that after chocolate and vanilla orange is the world’s favorite flavor! Their natural sweetness comes from a range of sugars, including glucose, fructose and sucrose which are substances that are all natural and healthy for the body. Oranges are also rich in Vitamin C which is important for growth and the repair of body tissues. Christopher Columbus brought the first orange seeds and seedlings to the New World—what is now America—on his second voyage in 1493. Today, the United States has many farms that grow oranges all year round!
Bananas are plants that grow in bunches on herbs that are often mistaken for trees. Although most bananas are yellow they can come in other colors too like green or even red! Most bananas actually start out being green and then turn yellow. Humans have been eating and growing bananas for thousands of years. Currently, India is the number one producer of bananas. Bananas are very high in potassium and they do a lot to improve eyesight and build muscle. For these reasons, they are usually regarded as a favorite fruit among athletes.
Grapes are a kind of berry that were first cultivated by humans over 8000 years ago! Hieroglyphics (pictures and symbols used in early forms of communication) show that the ancient Egyptians were involved in grape and wine production. Grapes grow in bunches on vines and come in an array of colors, although green grapes and purple grapes are the most common. Grapes with black skins are dried to make raisins, whereas sultanas are dried from small seedless green grapes. Spanish explorers introduced grapes to America approximately 300 years ago and, since then, America has started growing lots of this fruit especially to make wine for adults to drink. There are more than 8,000 grape varieties from about 60 species and the main types are American and European. One cup of grapes is worth about 100 calories and that provides more than a quarter of the daily recommended intake of the vitamins K and C.
Food historians say lemons have been in cultivation around the Mediterranean from as early as the first century A.D. Lemons grow on trees that bloom all year round and each tree produces between 500 and 600 pounds of lemons every year! Lemons have many health benefits. They are good for digestion and can help cure sore throats and prevent ulcers. Lemons are high in vitamin C and they prevent scurvy, a disease that used to affect pirates and sailors. Scurvy causes bleeding gums, loose teeth and aching joints. To this day, the British Navy requires ships to carry enough lemons so that every sailor can have one ounce of juice a day. Lemons are also high in natural acid, which can actually be good for skin.
Pineapples contain bromelain, an enzyme that may help arthritis pain by reducing inflammation. They are also a good source of vitamin C, which helps strengthen your immune system. Historically, Hawaii was the world's largest pineapple producer and the main source for U.S. pineapples. Today the largest producers include the Philippines, Brazil, and Costa Rica. In 1493, explorer Christopher Columbus found pineapples on Guadeloupe Island in the Caribbean. The fruit is also native to southern Brazil and Paraguay. American colonists regarded pineapples as a luxurious treat because of their rarity and cost but today pretty much anyone can buy a pineapple at their local supermarket.
Strawberries are full of vitamin C and vitamin B. Their natural sweetness comes from the sugars fructose and glucose which are both healthy for the body. On average, there are 200 seeds on each strawberry and they are not really berries—they are actually members of the rose family! Strawberries grow wild all over Europe and also do well in environments that they were introduced to like the United States. They contain a lot of natural healthy sugar and fiber and are even popular ingredients in a lot of desserts like strawberry shortcake!
Cherries are rich in vitamin C, fiber and potassium and they also have valuable antioxidants that help keep the body healthy. Cherries are members of the rose family, just like strawberries, and they have been cultivated for thousands of years. Cherries are also regarded as being some of the tastiest fruits on the market—they are even served as topping on ice cream sundaes!
Peaches are rich in vitamin C, vitamin A, natural sugar called sucrose, potassium and fiber. Peach juice is an excellent moisturizer that is so good for the skin that it has even been used as an ingredient in cosmetic face creams. Peaches are in the rose family and related to almonds. The Ancient Romans called them “Persian Apples” and the Chinese consider them to be a symbol of immorality and friendship. Peaches are referenced in Chinese paintings, porcelain and poems dating back to 551 B.C!
Watermelons are rich in vitamin C and contain a substance called beta carotene that the body converts to vitamin A. Their sweetness comes from a collection of the natural sugars sucrose, fructose and glucose which are all good for the body. Watermelons are believed to have originated in the Kalahari Desert of Africa. The first recorded watermelon harvest occurred nearly 5,000 years ago in Egypt as depicted on hieroglyphics! Watermelons spread through Europe and Asia via trade routes and are believed to have arrived in America with slaves in the 1600s or 1700s. About 200-300 varieties are presently grown in the U.S. and Mexico, although there are about 50 varieties that are very popular. Watermelons are 92% water and related to pumpkins, cucumbers and squash.