What makes the healthiest fruits, healthy?

Nutrients!

The composition of each food – fruits in this case – exist in different quantities and concentrations. In general, fruits are a great source of many of them, like vitamins, minerals, and fiber.

Therefore, we compared the nutrient composition of 75 fruits to see how they stack up against each other. Some nutrients like vitamins and minerals add to their health quality, while others like sugar take away from their quality.

Putting it all together, we ranked their balance and quality from best to worst. So what is the most nutritious fruit?

Raspberries!

Yep. Calorie-per-calorie, those little, red, delicious berries top our list of the healthiest fruits.

The worst?

Fuji apples…

It’s best to remember that all fruits are great additions to any well-balanced diet. While they don’t have to have every nutrient to be considered healthy, they often provide good sources of a few that add value to any diet. And in general, most of us are not getting enough micronutrients or fiber in our diets.

Plus, they’re delicious!

Sure, they’re delicious because they often carry with them lots of sugar. And we already consume too much sugar as a nation.

But the most nutritious fruits can add much needed micronutrients to your diet. Not to mention, the high fiber content of fruits generally helps regulate sugar absorption in a way that modulates insulin spikes.

So, like tried and true nutrition advice for almost every food choice, don’t over-consume fruit.

There are some fun, interactive charts below that you should play around with and share! Just mouse-over or select the data in the charts to filter and highlight them. See what insights you can find!

For those of you who are interested in the best fruits to eat for your health, read on!

The Healthiest Fruits are Nutrient Dense

First off, all fruits can be a part of a healthy diet. But the best fruits, and the most nutritious fruits, are nutrient dense.

Fruits are great sources of vitamins and minerals, and since many of us do a very poor job of meeting our micronutrient intake recommendations, fruit would be a welcome addition to almost all of our diets.

In order to compare apples-to-apples (sorry), the healthiest fruits were determined by comparing them on a calorie-to-calorie basis.

This calculation determined each fruit’s micronutrient density.

But nutrient density alone wasn’t good enough to compare health.

Nutrient density doesn’t give a fruit points forever.

Most vitamins and minerals add little generalized health benefits above their dietary reference intake (DRI) values. For example, eating 10X the DRI for riboflavin doesn’t suddenly give you super-riboflavin-powers (although your pee will have riboflavin-induced super-yellowness).

Therefore, the value given for each micronutrient to the overall health of each fruit plateaus shortly after meeting the its DRI (on a calorie-per-calorie basis).

The Healthiest Fruits Have a Breadth of Nutrients

A few healthy fruits come to mind when thinking about specific nutrients. (Bananas and potassium….oranges and vitamin C).

But to earn a high ranking in the list of the healthiest fruits, they need to have a high nutrient density for many vitamins and minerals.

For example, grapes have exceedingly high levels of manganese. Much more than navel oranges.

But oranges have acceptable densities for calcium, iron, magnesium, phosphorus, and many others.

Therefore, nutrient density and nutrient breadth count.

Feel free to use the interactive chart to view the ranking of the healthiest fruits and the micronutrient densities below. Select data to see changes and compare the most nutritious fruits!

What are the Healthiest Fruits? (Interactive Chart)

You might ask, why are some fruits negative?

  1. Primarily, this ranking is used to compare fruits against other fruits to provide a ranking of the healthiest fruits. These numbers are best for comparing against foods in the same food categories (like fruits, herbs, or cheeses).
  2. Comparing each fruit’s health on a calorie-to-calorie basis means each fruit is compared as if it was your only food for the day. Obviously, this seldom happens (and we don’t recommend becoming a fruitarian). Any fruit can be a part of a healthy diet. But if that fruit becomes you’re only source of calories, fruits with negative points will leave you lacking.
  3. As you’ll see below, each fruit’s health is adjusted by its macronutrient profile, too.

The Healthiest Fruits Have a High Quality Macronutrient Profile

A healthy, balanced diet meets the typical body’s requirements for protein, fat, and carbohydrates.

Straying too far in any one can lead to a poorly balanced diet over time.

And other recommendations from institutions like the American Heart Association, the World Health Organization, and most national health organizations across the globe address dietary constituents like fiber, sugar, and saturated fats.

Most fruits, as you can see below, are high in sugar. This isn’t a big surprise to many of you.

Many even argue this is a reason not to eat fruit.

I would agree that only eating fruit is a bad idea. For many reasons.

But as we’ve seen, many of them are jam-packed full of micronutrients.

And as you’ll also notice below, they are full of fiber. Fiber has many cardiometabolic health benefits, and also may improve your gut microbiome profile, too.

Please use and share our interactive charts by mousing-over the data to see the macronutrient profiles for our list of the healthiest fruits, below.

Healthiest Fruits: Macronutrient Balance Quality? (Interactive Charts)

In Conclusion

So there you have it. A ranking of the healthiest fruits, from best (raspberries) to worst (Fuji apples). The most nutritious fruits were compared by assessing and comparing the following criteria:

  • Nutrient Density
    • Calorie-per-calorie, the most nutritious fruits had high concentrations of key nutrients.
  • DRI Thresholds
    • Calorie-per-calorie, the most nutritious fruits met thresholds for recommended daily intake requirements.
  • Nutrient Breadth
    • The best fruits contained a wide array of nutrients at high concentrations; not just one or two.
  • Macronutrient Balance & Quality
    • The best fruits to eat also had better macronutrient profiles, good fiber content, and less sugar.

So if you’re looking for a list of healthy fruits to eat, this ranking should serve you well. Berries do well, even before incorporating qualities like antioxidant effects from other phytochemicals.

Where does your favorite land on the list!

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