That’s the suggestion of a recent study published in the journal Preventing Chronic Disease: Public Health Research, Practice and Policy. Researchers studied various fruits and vegetables and ranked them according to the nutrient density (a measure of 17 vitamins and nutrients) for 100-gram servings; a score of 100 indicated that 100% of the recommended daily allowance of those nutrients could be found in the serving. After all the data was crunched, these fruits beat blueberries onto the list:
The yellow fruit deserves better than its usual status as a side piece: Researchers ranked it the most nutrient-dense fruit on the list. Lemons are high in vitamin C; in fact, a single fruit contains almost an entire RDA of the powerful antioxidant. They’re also rich in citrus limonoids—natural compounds that have been shown to disarm cancer cells, particularly of the breast and colon—and the citrus flavonoid naringenin, a potent free-radical scavenger and anti-inflammatory. Begin your day with plain lemon water, toss wedges into a lunchtime salad, or combine them with other fruits on this list to make a refreshing detox water.
Not only are strawberries one of the fruits that are best for fat loss, but they’re also mega-high in antioxidants—just one medium berry has 11% your RDA of vitamin C! They’re heart-protective, raise “good” HDL cholesterol and have anticancer properties. Add them to your breakfast oatmeal, blend them into a healthy smoothie, or pair them with dark chocolate for a doubly fat-burning dessert. If you’re put off by the price, head to the freezer aisle instead. Frozen are just as good as fresh—they contain the same amount of nutrients.
A longtime vitamin C MVP — with 88% of the RDA in a 100-gram serving — oranges are also good sources of fiber and potassium, and rich in the those cancer-fighting citrus limonoids. Two Japanese studies showed that drinking mandarin orange juice reduced participants’ incidence of liver cancer. It’s theorized that’s due to oranges’ high level of carotenoids, the pigment that gives the fruit its color and functions as a potent antioxidant, mopping up free radicals and repairing DNA damage that can cause disease. Add oranges to a smoothie, stir pieces into Greek yogurt or a healthy fruit salad, or grab them on the run for a perfectly self-contained snack.
Lemons’ smaller, jealous-looking cousins are particularly high in flavonoids and limonoids, antioxidants that protect against cancer and aid digestion. A 100-g serving of the humble fruit has half the day’s recommended vitamin C, and almost three grams of fiber. Slice them into a zesty chicken-avocado soup, use them to save 110 calories per drink in this easy margarita recipe, or squeeze them into your eight daily glasses of H20.
Pink and Red Grapefruit
Grapefruit’s phytochemicals and vitamin C provide a one-two punch, helping fight disease and even burn belly fat. In a study published in the journal Metabolism, people who ate grapefruit before their meals for six weeks lost up to an inch of fat from their waists! To get those belt-tightening benefits, start your day with half a grapefruit, add wedges to a lunchtime salad, or make a grapefruit-flavored healthy soda to down with dinner.
The blacker the berry, the sweeter the benefits: Sky-high in vitamin K (36% of the RDA per cup), blackberries boast phytonutrients that help blood clot and keep bones healthy, as well as the antioxidant lutein, which supports eye health. Bonus: With 7.6 grams of fiber per cup (almost as much as soybeans), blackberries are one of the best high-fiber foods for weight loss. Eat them straight out of the carton, add them to whole-wheat pancakes, or sprinkle them into plain Greek yogurt for a high-protein breakfast without excess sugar.