A large national survey reported by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) indicated that only 33% of American adults are eating two or more servings of fruit or fruit juice a day. Diets rich in fruits are very important in helping to prevent a number of serious diseases, but Americans apparently prefer fast food or convenience foods to fruit, which needs to be washed if not peeled. According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture all fruits and 100% fruit juices are part of the fruit food group. Fruits in all their forms are good for you: fresh, frozen, canned, or dried. They can be served whole, cut up or even pureed.
The Benefits of Eating Fruit
There are a substantial number of health and nutritional benefits from eating adequate amounts of a variety of fruits, including:
•Reduction in the risk of cardiovascular disease (heart attack and stroke)
•Reduction in the risk of diabetes
•Reduction in the risk of high blood pressure
•Possible reduction in the risk of some cancers
•Low in fat and calories
•Have no cholesterol
•Provide important nutrients such as potassium, dietary fiber, folate, and vitamin C
Adequate intake of fruit is highly important for optimum nutrition.
Daily Fruit Requirements
Daily fruit requirements vary by age, gender and level of physical activity. Here are the daily requirements for those who get less than 30 minutes a day of moderate-intensity physical activity, according to MyPyramid.gov:
•Children 2-3 years old…… 1 cup
•Children 4-8 years old…… 1 to 1.5 cups
•Girls 9-13 years old……….. 1.5 cups
•Boys 9-13 years old……….. 1.5 cups
•Girls 14-18 years old……… 1.5 cups
•Boys 14-18 years old……… 2 cups
•Women 19-30 years old…. 2 cups
•Women 31+ years old……. 1.5 cups
•Men 19+ years old………….. 2 cups
Guidelines for Getting More Fruit in Your Diet
Suggestions by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (MyPyramid.gov) for eating fruit include:
•Keep a bowl of fresh fruit on the table or in the refrigerator.
•Cut up fruit and store it in the refrigerator for later use.
•Shop for fruits that are dried, frozen and canned as well as fresh, to always have fruit on hand.
•Buy canned fruit only if it is in water or juice, not syrup.
•For convenience consider buying pre-cut fruit in packages to supply easy snacks.
•Make most of the fruit you eat either whole or cut-up fruit rather than juice, to obtain the benefits of fiber.
•Vary the fruits you eat to get a broader range of nutrients.
•Have fruit at every meal.
•Use fruits for snacks instead of high calorie sweets or chips.
•Include potassium-rich fruits in your diet often such as bananas, cantaloupe, honeydew melon, orange juice, prunes or prune juice, and dried peaches or apricots.
You may be able to think up other ways of meeting the important fruit intake recommendations. It should be easy to meet the daily requirements if fruit is consumed at each meal.
Adopt a Positive, Make-Fruit-Happen Attitude
Make fruit happen by doing weekly menu planning in advance of shopping to ensure that you will have enough fruit on hand to include fruit servings at every meal and for snacks, too.
Optimum nutrition is the goal and a sufficient intake of fruit plays an important role in that nutrition. An added bonus is the reduction in calories consumed if you make it a habit to have fruit at each meal and use fruit as snacks as well.
Be sure to check with your doctor if you have any chronic medical conditions and make gradual changes in your eating habits instead of all at once going from no fruit to several servings a day.