Fruits are a great source of vitamins and minerals. Fruits contain nutrients that are essential for good health. Fruits are a great source of fiber, Vitamin C, potassium and antioxidants to name a few. In addition, fruits are a great snack because they are low in calories, fat and sodium. Fruits can be purchased fresh, frozen, dried or canned. In addition, fruits are versatile because they can be eaten pureed, whole or cut-up. Here are some simple ways to incorporate fruit into your diet:
- Add to a smoothie.
- Add to a salad.
- Add it as a topping on your breakfast cereal, oatmeal or pancake.
- Add to yogurt. Yogurt that already has fruit mixed in it tends to be immersed in syrup, hence are high in sugar. To avoid added sugar buy plain yogurt and add fresh/frozen/pureed fruit for flavor.
- Eat dried fruits with no added sugar as a snack.
- At lunch instead of accompanying your sandwich with potato chips opt for fruit. Try baked apple chips if you want something that is crunchy.
- Use fruit as a sugar substitute when baking. Applesauce and pureed dates are great examples.
- Use fruit when making homemade ice cream or sorbets.
Fruit Serving Sizes
Now that you have ideas on how to incorporate fruit into your daily diet, you need to know how much fruit to eat. Although fruits are low in calories and contain natural sugar, they should be consumed in moderation. Also, if you are a diabetic or have gastrointestinal intolerances to certain fruits you will need to limit your fruit intake. The American Heart Association(AHA) provides guidance on what counts as a serving size. The AHA recommends 2-3 servings of fruit per day. The following guidelines are based on a 2,000 calorie/day diet:
- One Medium Fruit = approximately the size of a baseball
- Fresh, Frozen or Canned Fruit = 1/2 cup
- Dried Fruit = 1/4 cup
- Fruit Juice = 1/2 cup
Take-away point is that fruits when added in moderation to your diet are a great source of micronutrients. The amount of fruit per day you consume will depend on your caloric needs, age, sex and medical history. A general rule of thumb is to aim for 2-3 servings of fruit per day.