get this disclaimer out of the way first: Americans donít
eat nearly as much fruit as they should to maintain a healthy
diet, so nutrition experts advise eating fruit, any whole
fruit, as often as possible, at least two cups of it a day,
striving for variety so that you get an array of important
to the question at hand: When faced with the triumvirate of
fresh fruit most commonly found in bowls at cafeterias and
elsewhere ó apples, oranges and bananas ó which should you
choose? Which fruit is nutritionally superior when you must
choose just one?
out comparing apples and oranges isnít totally bananas. And
the orange, by at least one measure, has an edge.
you consider the concentration of a wide array of nutrients
relative to calories, the orange is the most nutritious,
followed by the apple, followed by bananas," said Dr.
David Katz, director of the Yale University Prevention
Research Center and author or "Disease Proof: The
Remarkable Truth About What Makes Us Well."
win based on the NuVal Nutritional Scoring System, a measure
developed by Katz and colleagues that considers more than 30
nutrients and nutrition factors, giving points for the good
(protein, calcium, vitamins) and subtracting points for the
bad (sugar, sodium, cholesterol). The quality of the
macronutrients, such as glycemic load, is also a factor.
rates foods from 1 to 100, with 100 being the most nutritious.
Oranges have a perfect score of 100, earning more credit that
apples (96) and bananas (91) due to high concentrations of
vitamin C, fiber, calcium, folate, bioflavonoids and
carotenoids. But any one of those fruits is highly
nutritiously desirable. To compare, skinless chicken breast
has a NuVal score of 39 and Cheetos come in at 4.
course, some people dislike peeling oranges, and apples and
bananas can be superior in particular circumstances, such as
when youíre really hungry or have high blood pressure, said
Andrea Giancoli, a Los Angeles-based registered dietitian and
spokeswoman for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. Itís
worth emphasizing, again, that variety is key.
Giancoli described some of the virtues of the Big Three fruits
to help guide your pick. Basic nutrition facts are from the
fiber: 3 g
orange contains 120 percent of the recommended daily intake of
source of calcium, folates, thiamin, flavanones (antioxidants
that help neutralize free radicals) and naringin (an
anti-inflammatory that may help protect the immune system),
nutritional bang for the caloric buck, Katz said.
they are lowest in calories, it isnít the best choice when
you are really hungry, Katz said.
fiber: 4 g
source of soluble fiber, which is helpful in controlling blood
pressure, lipids, cholesterol and blood sugar, Katz said.
it involves a lot of chewing, it can make you feel more
satiated, Katz said.
an upset stomach, Giancoli said.
with phytochemicals, including antioxidant flavenoids like
quercetin, which is good for heart health and could have
anti-cancer properties, and proanthocyanidins, which may
protect urinary tract and heart health, Giancoli said.
fiber: 3 g
422 mg of potassium, which people often donít get enough of
(the recommended daily intake of potassium is 4,700 mg).
Potassium helps blunt the effect of salt on blood pressure and
may help reduce the risk of kidney stones and muscle loss,
source of vitamin B6, magnesium, iron, vitamin C and dietary
fiber, Giancoli said.
you refuel before and after exercise because it provides the
nutrients that tend to be taxed, Katz said. Supports muscle
highest-calorie choice of the three, but it will make you feel
fuller longer, Giancoli said.