The Diet Detective: Favorite Fruits

Cantaloupe

Why: One-quarter of a melon (about 15 cantaloupe balls) has only 70 calories or so, and there is nothing like a sweet piece of cantaloupe to start off the day.

Health Perks: It's low in calories and high in the antioxidant beta carotene, vitamins A and C and a good source of vitamins B6 and B3 (niacin), folate and potassium.

Nutrition: Serving size: 1/4 of a large melon (about 6 1/2" in diameter), calories 69, total fat 0.4g, cholesterol 0mg, sodium 33mg, total carbohydrate 16.6g, dietary fiber 1.8g, sugars 16g, protein 1.7g.

Seek Out: Fragrant, symmetrical melons, heavy for their size, with a yellow or cream undertone and no bruises. "Another indicator is the stem: If it still has one and it won't come off easily, chances are it's not ready to eat," says Parker. Additionally, the skin color between the netting should be yellowish-buff, yellowish-gray or pale yellow--not green.

Avoid: According to Green, over-ripe cantaloupes have "lumps or soft spots." She also suggests avoiding rock-hard or lopsided melons. Also, watch out for mold, which can indicate decay.

Storage: Uncut melons can be stored at room temperature for up to a week. Refrigerate cut melon in an airtight container for up to five days.

Interesting: The cantaloupes we eat are actually muskmelons.

Cherries

Why: Delicious, sweet and oh-so-low in calories.

Health Perks: Fifteen cherries have only 64 calories and more than 10 percent of the daily value for vitamin C. They are also rich in vitamin E, contain two grams of fiber and are a good source of potassium, magnesium, iron and folate.

Cherries contain a pigment called anthocyanin (responsible for their color), an antioxidant linked to a variety of health benefits including reduction of risk for heart disease and cancer. Additionally, cherries are one of the few food sources of melatonin, shown to aid in sleep.

Nutrition: Serving size: 15 cherries (102g), calories 64, total fat 0.2g cholesterol 0mg, sodium 0mg, total carbohydrate 16.3g, dietary fiber 2.1g, sugars 13.1g, protein 1.1g.

Seek Out: High-quality cherries are firm and dark red, with bright, lustrous, plump-looking surfaces and fresh-looking stems.

Avoid: Soft, shriveled or blemished cherries. Green also suggests avoiding dark or brittle stems.

Storage: Remove any that are soft or split, says Green. Then refrigerate. Check the fruit occasionally and remove any that have gone bad. You can freeze cherries (with or without pits) by rinsing and draining them thoroughly, spreading them in a single layer on a cookie sheet and placing them in the freezer.

Interesting: Seventy percent of the cherries grown come from four states (Washington, Oregon, Idaho and Utah).


Charles Stuart Platkin is an Active Expert , nutrition and public health advocate, author of the best seller Breaking the Pattern (Plume, 2005), Breaking the FAT Pattern (Plume, 2006) and Lighten Up (Penguin USA/Razorbill, 2006) and founder of Integrated Wellness Solutions. Sign up for The Diet Detective newsletter free at www.dietdetective.com.

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