The Magic of Fruit!

Whether you like tart, sweet, juicy, crunchy or smooth – there is a fruit out there for everyone. Throw fruit into smoothies, sprinkle onto salads, mix into oatmeal, saute into an entree or pair with nuts for a satisfying snack. Portable and delicious, fresh fruits are packed with nutrients that nourish your body and leave you feeling energized. In addition, diets rich in fruits and vegetables are associated with a lower risk of chronic diseases such as type 2 diabetes, heart disease, stroke, hypertension, kidney disease, osteoporosis, obesity and some cancers.

 

In order to reap the benefits of the nutrients found in fruit, it is best to eat fresh or frozen fruit (with no sugar added). Canned fruit, fruit juice, fruit snacks and fruit-flavored packaged goods have endured processing that removed the fiber and much of the nutrients found in fresh fruit.

 

Some of the many nutrients found in fruits include potassium, fiber, folate, and vitamin C.1

  • Potassium – essential for muscle health and may reduce the risk of high blood pressure (hypertension).
    • Kiwis, bananas, strawberries, cantaloupe, honeydew and prunes
  • Fiber – crucial for gut health and preventing constipation and diarrhea. Fiber also helps to decrease blood cholesterol and may reduce the risk of heart and other diseases.
    • Berries, oranges, pears, apples, bananas, kiwis, guava and persimmons
  • Folate (folic acid) – necessary for red blood cell synthesis. Folate is also important for infant development in the womb. Adequate consumption of folate/folic acid by pregnant mothers greatly reduces the risk of neural tube defects and developmental disorders in the unborn infant.
    • Citrus fruits, papaya, strawberries, bananas, blackberries and cantaloupe
  • Vitamin C – adequate intake of vitamin C maintains a strong immune system, healthy gums and teeth, repair of all body tissues and healing in cuts and wounds.1
    • Kiwis, berries, oranges, peaches, pineapple, guava, papaya and tangerines

 

The Low-Down on Fruit Juice:

Fruit juice – sweet, refreshing and available in every flavor you can imagine. Unfortunately, most are loaded with sugars, making it easy to down hundreds of calories and several tablespoons of added sugar in one sitting. Also, fruit juice does not contain the fiber that fresh and frozen fruit carry – this means fruit juice results in an almost immediate spike in blood sugar levels. While it is best to meet your daily fruit needs with fresh and/or unsweetened frozen fruit, there are ways to incorporate fruit juice into your diet in a healthy way.

  • Look for 100% fruit juice. The label should read 100% fruit (or 100% fruit and vegetable) juice. There should be no added sugars, syrups or artificial sweeteners.
  • Enjoy no more than 4-6 fluid ounces of 100% fruit juice per day. This is equal to ½ – ¾ cup of 100% fruit juice. Intakes above this level are not recommended.
  • Pair your serving of 100% fruit juice with a source of lean protein, complex carbohydrates and/or healthy fats. This will likely help curb the spike in blood sugar and also add some substance in your stomach. Some ideas for pairing with fruit juice include:
    • Unsalted nuts
    • Hard-boiled eggs
    • 100% whole grain toast with natural nut butter
    • Half ham sandwich (ham fully trimmed of fat) on 100% whole grain bread with avocado (can even add some other vegetables!)

 

 

**This document is for educational purposes only by a not-for-profit organization.

 

Bibliography

1 United States Department of Agriculture. Why is it important to eat fruit? 2015. <https://www.choosemyplate.gov/fruits-nutrients-health>. Accessed August 14, 2017.

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