For much of human history, fruits have been a favorite food, and with good reasons: they’re tasty, easy to digest, a good source of quick energy and packed with vitamins and minerals. It is very important to include all the seasonal fruits in the diet to gain maximum nutritional benefits, as no one particular fruit can provide all the necessary nutrients. A healthy diet should contain at least 3-4 servings of fruits per day including variety which is key.
The Benefits of Fruits in Your Diet
- Excellent sources of vitamin C, beta carotene and potassium
- High in fiber and low in calories
- A source of natural sugars that provide quick energy
- Contain various polyphenols which may protect against cancer and other diseases.
The Nutritional Value of Fruits
Fruits are antioxidants. Numerous studies demonstrate that people who eat ample of amounts of fruits, 5-10 servings a day, enjoy a reduced incidence of cancer, heart attacks and strokes.
Citrus fruits are among the richest sources of vitamin C. Nutritionists recommend at least one daily serving of an orange, grapefruit, tangerines or other citrus fruits.
Brightly colored fruits, such as apricots, cantaloupes and mangoes, are high in beta-carotene. Other carotene pigments such as lycopene are found in red fruits.
Many fruits are high in potassium, an electrolyte that is essential to maintaining a proper balance of body fluids. People taking diuretic drugs, which increase the excretion of potassium in urine, are advised to eat extra servings of bananas, melons, apricots and dried fruits.
Most fruits are low in calories and high in fiber, a fact that enhances their appeal to people who are weigh conscious. Apple, pears and many other fruits contain pectin, a soluble fiber that helps regulate blood cholesterol levels. Berries, citrus and dried fruits are especially high in both soluble and insoluble fiber.
Five Ways to Eat More Fruits
- Top your cereal with sliced bananas, kiwifruits, fresh berries. Try something new like dried cranberries or sliced mango.
- Fill a cantaloupe or other melon with low-fat cottage cheese.
- Add 1 cup fresh or frozen berries to pancake batter. Top pancake with apple sauce or rhubarb compote instead of syrup.
- Don’t throw out overripe bananas. Peel and freeze them and use them later for banana bread or muffins.
- Add fruit such as apples, pears, and mandarin orange sections to green salads.