Fruits are vital components of a healthy diet. Yet 60% of Americans hardly eat enough fruits. Many say it is hard to fit them in and hard to do. To meet your daily requirements, it means eating 2 to 3 cups of fruit. This presents a challenge for many. Arming yourself with the knowledge on how to include fruits in the diet, the role they play in optimal good health is an incentive to make them priorities as components of your healthy lifestyle. Fruits are delicious, colorful and can be eaten on demand. Fruits are low in calories, are nutrient dense- high in vitamins, minerals, phyto-nutrients, fibers with high water content. Although some fruits are seasonal, fresh fruits are still available in grocery store year-round when local farms productions are halted.
Beware of food manufacturers who place small amounts of “real fruits” in foods and include them as “real fruits” on their food label. These claims do not translate as whole fruit or as a piece of fruit. Take a look at the Nutrition Label ingredients. Ask yourself, is this fruit listed as “whole fruit” or “fruit flavored?” If it is “fruit flavored” it is not counted as whole fruit.
Fresh fruits are either sweet or tart in flavor. Mostly they are low in calories, high in nutrients, tasty and flavorful. Canned and frozen fruits without added sugars or syrups count as pure fruit. Include a variety of fruits in your diet such as berries that are packed with vitamins-C, banana, contains potassium, mangoes contain vitamin-A and fiber. Make it a habit to eat different fruits. Each fruit delivers different nutrients and benefits and that is the key to getting variety.
Dried fruits like raisins; cranberries and prunes are pure fruits but must be eaten in smaller amounts because drying makes them more concentrated and higher in calories. Look at the difference; a cup of fresh grapes has approximately 104 calories and half a cup of raisins has 216 calories. Another options is freeze drying fruits, eating that type of fruit does not contribute high calories, has good flavor and retain most of their nutrients. However, they are expensive.
One hundred percent fruit juices count as a serving of fruit. However, the whole fruit of an orange provides 62 calories, 3-g of fiber. One serving of juice, a ½ cup serving with pulp, has the same calories as whole orange, but the difference is the lack of fiber.
Yogurt with Fruit at the Bottom
Fruit is usually included in yogurt. The amount of fruit it contains does not supply much nutrients and the sugar added increases the caloric levels. It is better to buy plain low-fat yogurt and add your own serving of fruit.
The Science behind Fruits
Fruits are friends to having a healthy heart. In a study conducted by the Finns’ women added ½-cup (4 ounces) of mixed berries and about 2 ounces of pureed berries to their daily diets. Their good cholesterol (HDL) was improved by 5.2 percent after 8 weeks. Fruits are associated in lowering the risk of Cancer. A Japanese study of over 42,000 adults showed that citrus consumption reduced the risk of all types of cancer. Many factors may attribute to the findings. One idea suggests that the flavonoids of lemon may inhibit the growth of cancer cells. Fruits are a great helper in losing weight. Researchers in Brazil asked women to add 3 apples, pears or equal amount of fiber containing oat cookies to their daily diets. At the end of 10 weeks the fruit eaters lost almost 2 pounds, while the oat eaters’ weight remained the same. Fruits contain fiber and nutrients so include them in your 3 meals or as snacks. Remember: perception of “sweetness” or acidity is personal. Fruit eaten before the peak of its season may be more acidic to the palate. Fruit eaten during or after their peak season may taste less acidic or sweeter to the palate. Fruit eaten at the end of the season may be mealy or pithy with little residual flavor.
Global Trends of Fruits
Make fruits a focal staple in your menu planning. Select a variety of colorful fruits that are tasty, are nutrient dense. Fruits like blueberries, strawberries, oranges, apricots, kiwifruit, cantaloupe, watermelon, apples, pomegranate, mangoes, cherries, peaches nectarines are delicious and have antioxidant properties that are good for our health. They can be eaten fresh, cooked, as topping for cereals salads, and chutneys for grilled roasted meats, chicken, and fish. The next time you visit your grocery store, take a look at the exotic fruits that are grown and shipped from all corners of the world and are delivered to us across national and geographical boundaries through many channels of technology and transportation. These exotic fruits are fresh, frozen and canned. You can purchase them as fresh, frozen, canned, dried in the same forms as our native fruits. These fruits are available to us from regions far and wide where they were grown and come with a price we should not take it for granted. Grapes come from Chile, Kiwi from New Zealand and Mangoes from India or the Caribbean. These fruits are perfectly formed and are undamaged. Make them a part of your fruit adventure. You are doing your body and health good. You now know the merits of eating fruits and the importance it plays in our health and well-being, it is versatile, it delights, it keeps our taste buds pleasurable. So make fruits an essential part of your diet.