10 of the Best Fruits to Support Metabolic Health, from a Dietitian
Your metabolic health is influenced by your food choices, including fruits. Every fruit has a diverse nutrient profile that can support good health, but certain fruits may encourage metabolic health more than others - learn which ones!
Metabolic health refers to energy metabolism and how well your body can stabilize blood sugar, maintain balanced cholesterol levels and blood pressure, and a healthy waist circumference.1
There are no proven foods that will improve your metabolism overnight, but certain fruits can support your metabolic health goals.
How Do Fruits Support Metabolism?
In 2018 it was estimated that less than 10% of the American population was eating enough fruit in their diet2.
Why? Is it because fruit sometimes gets a bad rap? While fruit can sometimes be labeled as “bad” because of its sugar content, fruit is actually an incredibly important part of a well-balanced, healthy diet. Adequate fruit intake has been linked to2:
- Regular bowel movements and a healthy colon
- Long-term weight management
- Reduced risk of heart disease
- Reduced risk of diabetes
- Protecting the body from lung cancer and colon cancer
Yes, fruit does contain natural sugars (which aren’t bad for you when eaten in the right quantities). And it can also contribute to improving your metabolic health.
How Much Fruit Should You Eat In A Day?
The CDC recommends all adults should eat 1.5-2 cup equivalents of fresh fruit every day. For most people, this can be 3-5 fruits per day but it will vary depending on the size of the fruit.
Fruits That Support Metabolic Health
Try to include at least one fruit from this list every day. It’s best to eat fruits that are in season, like strawberries during the summer time, because they are fresher and higher in nutrients compared to out of season fruits. But, if you want strawberries in the winter, don’t like the change in temperature. Frozen products have just as many nutrients as their fresh counterparts (just make sure there are no added sugars).
Strawberries are a popular summer fruit and are low in sugar. The bright red berries are rich in fiber and vitamin C. Vitamin C supports metabolic function by assisting in protein metabolism, and immune function, and serving as a precursor for neurotransmitters.3
Many people enjoy fresh strawberries in their breakfast oatmeal or on top of unflavored yogurt. Strawberries have a low glycemic index score and should have minimal impact on your blood sugar, which is an added bonus.
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- Lowering cholesterol levels.
- Promoting satiety after eating.
- A healthy colon and bowel function.
- Tighter blood sugar control.
You can add blueberries to any meals or snacks that would normally feature a strawberry. You can also add them to salads in the summer for a fun twist on a vegetable-dominant dish, or sprinkle them on peanut butter toast instead of sweetened jam.
Pears are high in fiber and come in many different varieties. Eating two pears per day successfully lowered blood pressure points in middle-aged and older adults,6, and should be rotated into your daily intake of fresh fruit.
Fresh pears have more significant research to support the health claims compared to cooked pears. Include fresh pears in salads, yogurts, or on a charcuterie-style plate at home.
4. Goji Berries
Native to Asia, goji berries are antioxidant-rich fruits with a slightly sour taste. Goji berry juice has been linked to weight loss and improved metabolic rate after only two weeks.7
Most goji berries in the store are dehydrated and have a texture similar to raisins. You can add goji berries to salads or low sugar cereal for a tart surprise, or add goji berry juice to smoothies.
Avocados are rich in unsaturated fats, including oleic acid. Oleic acid has been linked to lowering inflammation in the body and promoting energy expenditure.8Having plenty of energy to burn is an indicator your metabolism is thriving.
Finding a ripe avocado can take a bit of patience and luck. The fruit should be slightly soft but not mushy. Avoid eating avocados that are rock hard. You can add avocado to sandwiches and wraps, or toss them in a smoothie for a creamy texture.
Apricots are similar to peaches, but smaller and less sweet. Apricots are rich in vitamin A and beta-carotene, which helps support eye and vision health. They are also rich in vitamin C, an essential vitamin for metabolic health.3
Uncooked apricots are mild in taste. If you bake them or cook them on the grill, their flavor is enhanced. Sprinkle apricot slices with a light dusting of cinnamon for an easy, healthy dessert.
<p class="pro-tip"><strong>Learn about </strong> <a href="/blog/cinnamon-blood-sugar-levels">how cinnamon affects blood sugar</a>.</p>
Like apricots and strawberries, oranges are a powerhouse for vitamin C, which is actively involved in protein synthesis and immune function.3Having a strong immune system is an excellent indicator that you are metabolically healthy. But vitamin C can not be synthesized in the body, which is why getting it through your diet every day is essential.
Oranges also contain calcium and essential dietary fiber, and their thick peel makes them a bit tougher so they can withstand a bit of transport in your lunch bag.
All apple varieties are rich in fiber, b-vitamins, and phytonutrients9. Phytonutrients are organic compounds that have a similar function as antioxidants. They protect your vital cells against damage from harmful free radicals, which if left unmanaged, can worsen your metabolic health and increase your risk of disease9.
Apples are versatile and can be enjoyed raw or cooked. For an easy snack, you can dip apple slices into natural peanut butter, which is rich in healthy fats and protein. Both of those macronutrients help slow down the digestion of the apple and slow the effect on your blood sugar levels.
Plums are rich in vitamin C and polyphenols, a potent antioxidant commonly found in darkly colored fruits and vegetables. Polyphenols are currently being researched for their potential benefits for the regulation of metabolism, weight, and chronic diseases10.
Ripe plums are available throughout the summer, sometimes into early September depending on the climate. You can add plums to cereals, and yogurts, or consider pairing them with a savory meal. Grilled chicken thighs with plums are juicy, tangy, and delicious.
Cantaloupe is rich in beta-carotene, fiber, and has high water content. All fluids in fruits and foods contribute to your hydration status. Being hydrated may help improve metabolic function.
A review in 2016 confirmed that in a state of chronic dehydration the body produces more hormones, including angiotensin II (AngII)11. High levels of AngII are associated with chronic diseases and obesity. Being hydrated reduces the presence of this hormone and weight loss was observed in both animal trials and human trials11.
The study clearly states that if you are already hydrated, drinking more water will not promote more weight loss, but it will help maintain a healthy metabolism. The findings are the most relevant for people who are consistently below their fluid requirements.
Are There Any Fruits I Should Avoid?
If you keep your fruit intake moderate and follow the CDC daily guidelines you should safely include all types of fruits.
If you are worried about the sugar content in fruits, you can refer to the Glycemic Index (GI) scoring system to see where your favorite fruits fall on the chart. The GI chart ranks carb-containing foods on how quickly they will raise your blood sugar levels. Ideally, you want to pick low GI foods as often as possible. Check out this low-GI fruit list we created.
Is Fruit Juice As Good As The Whole Fruit?
Fruit juice is much higher in sugar than whole fruits and drinking too much juice can cause your blood sugars to spike. This is because a glass of juice contains the sugars of several fruits which are rapidly absorbed into your bloodstream.
The same philosophy applies to prepackaged fruit smoothies or cold-press juices. Even though all the ingredients can pack a nutrient dense punch, the volume of fruits required to make the drink may surpass the recommended daily servings.
Opt to make your own smoothie at home with only one or two low GI fruits and high protein ingredients including nut butter and unflavored greek yogurt. Or, you can simply add some berries to your breakfast and eat an apple with your lunch.
Including a variety of fruits in your diet can help restore your metabolic health as part of a healthy lifestyle. They can be added to snacks, and meals, or featured in a healthy dessert.
Challenge yourself to include one new item from this list in your weekly meals. If you ever start to get bored try and prepare fruits in a different way from what you are used to seeing them. A grilled plum is arguably even tastier than a fresh plum, so get creative in the kitchen!
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- National Institute of Health. (2021, March 26). Office of Dietary Supplements - Vitamin C. National Institute of Health Office of Dietary Supplements. Retrieved July 2022, from https://ods.od.nih.gov/factsheets/VitaminC-HealthProfessional/#:%7E:text=Vitamin%20C%20is%20required%20for,vital%20role%20in%20wound%20healing
- Dreher M. L. (2018). Whole Fruits and Fruit Fiber Emerging Health Effects. Nutrients, 10(12), 1833. https://doi.org/10.3390/nu10121833
- Gornall, J., & Villani, R. G. (1996). Short-Term Changes in Body Composition and Metabolism with Severe Dieting and Resistance Exercise. International Journal of Sport Nutrition, 6(3), 285–294. https://doi.org/10.1123/ijsn.6.3.285
- Wolfe, K. L., Kang, X., He, X., Dong, M., Zhang, Q., & Liu, R. H. (2008). Cellular antioxidant activity of common fruits. Journal of agricultural and food chemistry, 56(18), 8418–8426. https://doi.org/10.1021/jf801381y
- Otles, S., & Ozgoz, S. (2014). Health effects of dietary fiber. Acta scientiarum polonorum. Technologia alimentaria, 13(2), 191–202.
- Navaei, N., Pourafshar, S., Akhavan, N. S., Litwin, N. S., Foley, E. M., George, K. S., Hartley, S. C., Elam, M. L., Rao, S., Arjmandi, B. H., & Johnson, S. A. (2019). Influence of daily fresh pear consumption on biomarkers of cardiometabolic health in middle-aged/older adults with metabolic syndrome: a randomized controlled trial. Food & Function, 10(2), 1062–1072. https://doi.org/10.1039/c8fo01890a
- Amagase, H., & Nance, D. M. (2011). Lycium barbarum Increases Caloric Expenditure and Decreases Waist Circumference in Healthy Overweight Men and Women: Pilot Study. Journal of the American College of Nutrition, 30(5), 304–309. https://doi.org/10.1080/07315724.2011.10719973
- Zeisel, S. H., & da Costa, K. A. (2009). Choline: an essential nutrient for public health. Nutrition Reviews, 67(11), 615–623. https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1753-4887.2009.00246.x
- Rana, S., & Bhushan, S. (2016). Apple phenolics as nutraceuticals: assessment, analysis and application. Journal of food science and technology, 53(4), 1727–1738. https://doi.org/10.1007/s13197-015-2093-8
- Cory, H., Passarelli, S., Szeto, J., Tamez, M., & Mattei, J. (2018). The Role of Polyphenols in Human Health and Food Systems: A Mini-Review. Frontiers in nutrition, 5, 87. https://doi.org/10.3389/fnut.2018.00087
- Thornton S. N. (2016). Increased Hydration Can Be Associated with Weight Loss. Frontiers in nutrition, 3, 18. https://doi.org/10.3389/fnut.2016.00018