Top 10 Fruits for Your Heart Health

America's top heart hospital, the Cleveland Clinic, picked the best 10 fruits for boosting heart health. Eat them often to reduce your risk of heart attack and stroke.

by Martha Miller Johnson


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Cleveland Clinic?s Top 10 Fruits
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    Each of the following fruits is loaded with nutrients that can lower cholesterol and blood pressure and help you lose weight. To get the most out of every piece of fruit you eat, follow these serving suggestions:
    -- Choose fresh, whole fruit first, before canned, frozen, or fruit juice.
    -- Aim for at least three servings each day.
    -- To control blood sugars or triglycerides, eat whole fruits instead of drinking fruit juice.

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Apples

    What to look for when buying apples: Shiny skin. Firm and free of bruises. Many varieties are available year-round.

    Storing: Apples stay juicier longer in a refrigerator fruit crisper and can be refrigerated for about 5—7 days. Fuji and Gala apples last longer than Red or Golden Delicious varieties.

    Using: McIntosh for salads, Red Delicious for snacking, Fuji for baking, Granny Smith for any purpose.

    *Flavonoids promote heart health by reducing platelet adhesion in arteries, lowering cholesterol, and relaxing and dilating arteries

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Apricots

    fresh or dried

    Benefits: Vitamins A, C, E, and K; fiber; carotenoids

    What to look for when buying apricots: Fresh: Firm, plump with deep orange or yellow-orange color.

    Storing: Sealed in plastic bag, they keep in the refrigerator for up to one week.

    Using: Add sliced apricots to hot or cold cereal. Dried apricots give a Middle Eastern flavor to stews.

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Bananas

    Benefits: Vitamins B6 and C, fiber, magnesium*, potassium*

    What to look for when buying bananas: Firm, with the stem intact. Size does not affect quality.

    Storing: Room temperature is best.

    Using: Best eaten fresh. Freeze peeled, overripe bananas to use later in baking.

    *Potassium and magnesium lower blood pressure.

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Berries

    Blueberry, blackberry, boysenberry, raspberry

    Benefits: Vitamin C, folate, fiber, manganese, potassium

    What to look for when buying berries: Choose bright berries that move freely in their containers. Silver sheen on blueberries indicates freshness.

    Storing: Keep in the refrigerator for about 2-3 days.

    Using: Frozen berries are just as nutritious as fresh.

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Cantaloupe

    Benefits: Vitamins A, B6, and C; folate; potassium; fiber

    What to look for when buying cantaloupe: Pick melons you can smell that yield slightly to pressure on the blossom end. Most affordable in peak season (June—September).

    Storing: In the vegetable crisper, cantaloupe can last 5 days.

    Using: Freeze slices between sheets of waxed paper and seal in plastic. Best served slightly frozen.

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Oranges

    Benefits: Vitamins A, B6, and C; folate; potassium; fiber

    What to look for when buying oranges: Shiny skin free of blemishes. Oranges with small navels are best; a large navel means it's overripe.

    Storing: Keep on the kitchen counter 3-5 days. If not eating right away, refrigerate for up to 2 weeks.

    Using: Eat fresh-the white layer of skin on a fresh orange curbs appetite for up to four hours. Or slice into a salad with romaine and red onion.

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Grapefruit

    Benefits: Vitamin C, potassium, calcium*, flavonoids

    What to look for when buying grapefruit: Choose a fruit heavy for its size and springy to touch. Red and pink have more carotenoid than white.

    Storing: In the refrigerator for up to 2 weeks.

    Using: Grapefruits are juicier when served warm than when served chilled. Grapefruit sections are terrific in salads.

    *Calcium, with potassium and magnesium, helps lower blood pressure.

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Kiwi

    Benefits: Vitamins C and E*, fiber, magnesium,

    What to look for when buying kiwi: Pick those that are soft to the touch, like a ripe peach. Available year-round.

    Using: You don;t need to peel them to eat them. Slice into a salad or use instead of berries on cereal.

    *Vitamin E is an antioxidant thought to reduce oxidation of LDL cholesterol.

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Papaya

    Benefits: Vitamins A, C, and E; folate*; calcium; magnesium; potassium

    What to look for when buying papaya: Bright yellow (fully ripe) papaya should be eaten that day. Choose yellow and green fruit that's slightly soft when pressed.

    Storing: Papayas ripen very quickly. Put them in the refrigerator to slow the ripening process. Refrigerate up to 2 days.

    Using: Half a papaya with a squirt of lime juice is great for breakfast. Add papaya last to fruit salad, so its enzymes won't soften other fruit.

    *Choose whole foods rich in folate, or folic acid, before considering a supplement to reduce homocysteine.

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Peaches

    Benefits: Vitamins C, E, and K; fiber; potassium

    What to look for when buying peaches: Look for those with a strong, sweet smell that give slightly when touched. Available May - September.

    Storing: Keep on the counter until ripe. Once ripe, rinse and gently rub off fuzz. Stored in a plastic bag in the refrigerator, peaches keep 3-5 days.

    Using: If a recipe calls for peeled peaches, drop into boiling water for 30 seconds or until skins soften. Then gently remove.

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