Remember the time-old saying “An apple a day keeps the doctor away,”? It's ingrained in you from an early age that fruit is fundamentally healthy for you, but contrary to what you might expect, a new study from researchers at William Paterson University in New Jersey suggests that's only partly true.
What did the study investigate?
Researchers at the US university examined the nutrient content of 41 foods, evaluating the vitamin, fibre and nutrient content each food contained in relation to calories. Essentially, the higher the nutrient content, the healthier the food.
The conclusion of the study
Despite what you might expect, not a single fruit made it into the top 10 healthiest foods! Green veg dominated the top spots, with just one food reaching 100% of required nutrients with just 100 calories.
In fact, of the 41 foods studied, just seven types even managed to meet the criteria for the study, with the healthiest fruit only just making it into the top 30.
Including the widespread demonising of carbs…
This is the healthiest fruit in the world
Beyond the green veg dominated top 10, other favourites like broccoli, peppers and pumpkin made it into the top 20, with the healthiest fruit coming in 28th place overall.
For fruit lovers you might be disappointed to learn that the healthiest fruit is (drum roll, please) the humble lemon.
Anyone who's ever tried to bite into a lemon will no doubt recall the distinctly sour, generally unpleasant taste to this day. But, fear not, as there are countless much more palatable ways you can integrate lemons into your meals.
Here's how to incorporate lemon into your daily routine
Unsurprisingly, the easiest way to benefit from the nutrient packed lemon without having to eat it straight is to use its juice in your cooking.
No doubt you've heard of the celebrity favourite lemon water, which not only benefits from high nutrient density, but is also thought to detoxify the body.
Lemon juice also works wonderfully when cooking or in salads, thought avoid heating it to ensure that nutrient content isn't lost. Naturally, hitting the daily nutrient content is a tall order, with you needing to use 350 grams of lemons to be able to meet 100 calories of nutrients in a day. However, combined with other healthy foods from this line up you can edge closer to your nutrient target with a squeeze of lemon!
Use of the lemon at a glance
Need some inspiration? Here are some ideas for how to use lemons in your food:
- For salad dressings
- In juice or smoothies (e.g. with freshly squeezed orange juice - orange comes in 33rd place!)
- To season fish, meat and vegetable dishes
- In risotto or pasta (e.g., spaghetti al limone; tip: use whole wheat pasta or buckwheat pasta as a healthy alternative to white pasta)
- As a healthy sorbet
- In yoghurt in the morning
By the way: While “an apple a day keeps the doctor away”, the apple didn't make it to this study. This doesn't mean it's not healthy, just that it's not as healthy as the other foods! So instead of treating yourself to a sour apple, next time you might consider biting into a sour lemon instead.
This feature originally appeared on Glamour DE.