Why eat fruit every day?
OK, before you say it—“Duh Melanie…this is a no-brainer”—let me just say that knowing and doing are two totally different animals. I know you know fruit is good for you, but do you know exactly why? And more importantly, are you eating a couple of pieces every day? If yes…congratulations! If not, you’re missing out on some pretty powerful stuff here!
Fruit is rich in potassium, fiber, folate, vitamin C and beta-carotene (a precursor to vitamin A). Vitamin C and beta-carotene are powerful antioxidants, natural substances in foods that clean up free radicals in your body. We all have free radicals floating around inside our bodies. They are formed as a byproduct of reactions in your cells and also come from cigarette smoke, air pollution and exposure to ultraviolet (UV) rays. In toxic amounts, they cause damage to your body, loss of brain function over time and are believed to be a main contributor to heart disease, certain cancers and Parkinson’s disease. So it’s important to get rid of as many of them as possible. Your body does a pretty good job, but it can’t remove them all. That’s why you need to eat fruits and vegetables every day. Berries have the highest antioxidant power of any fruit, so choose them whenever possible.
Two cups of fresh or frozen fruit each day is what you should be shooting for. Dried fruit is OK too, but keep in mind that the portion size is smaller due to its higher sugar content and extra calories. One half cup of dried fruit is equivalent to one cup of fresh or frozen.
BEWARE! Banana chips (although yummy indeed!) don’t count as a fruit serving. They are typically deep-fried and coated in sugar or honey, packing a whopping 10 grams of fat (9 saturated) per half-cup serving. Eat a regular banana instead for 0 grams of fat.
5 easy ways to get your fruit!
- Make your own trail mix with your favorite dried fruit, nuts and cereal. Figs, apricots, raisins and prunes have the most potassium. Just keep your portions small.
- Top your morning bowl of oatmeal with fresh blueberries, blackberries, strawberries or raspberries! Heck, if I have all four on hand, I add a spoonful of each to my oatmeal!
- Eat a small banana with a smear of peanut butter for a snack.
- Blend your favorite frozen fruit with some plain Greek yogurt and a splash of milk for a refreshing breakfast smoothie! I’ve been adding a tablespoon of ground flaxseed to mine for extra fiber and heart-healthy omega 3 fatty acids.
- Pack a container of no-sugar-added applesauce in your lunch!