Diets rich in fruits and vegetables get recommended for their health-promoting properties. In the past, fruits and vegetables have held a place in dietary guidance because of their concentrations of vitamins, minerals, and phytochemicals. In addition, fruits and vegetables are a source of dietary fiber.
Fruits and vegetables come as a unit, but our spotlight on this article will be on fruits. There is a wide variety of fruits in our world today around 2000. These fruits come in several forms; fresh, frozen, dried, canned, or inform of 100% fruit juice. Isn’t that great?! We have no excuse for not including fruits in our diets.
How much fruit is needed daily?
The daily recommendation suggests that we consume plenty of fruit every day. The recommended daily serving of fruits is 2-3 servings a day. However, the amount of fruit you need to eat depends on your age, sex, height, weight, and level of physical activity. For women, the amount can also depend on whether you are pregnant or breastfeeding. When determining 1 cup of fruits-for fresh fruits a serving is 1 cup; for 100% fruit juice a serving is equivalent to 1 cup; for dried fruits like dates ½ a cup is considered a serving.
The table below shows daily recommendations. Source MyPlate-plan.
|Toddlers||12 to 23 months||½ to 1 cup|
|Children||2-4 yrs||1 to 1½ cups|
|5-8 yrs||1 to 2 cups|
|Girls||9-13 yrs||1½ to 2 cups|
|14-18 yrs||1½ to 2 cups|
|Boys||9-13 yrs||1½ to 2 cups|
|14-18 yrs||2 to 2½ cups|
|Women||19-30 yrs||1½ to 2 cups|
|31-59 yrs||1½ to 2 cups|
|60+ yrs||1½ to 2 cups|
|Men||19-30 yrs||2 to 2½ cups|
|31-59 yrs||2 to 2½ cups|
|60+ yrs||2 cups|
Why is it important to eat fruits?
Eating fruits provide tremendous health benefits. Consuming fruits provides the body with nutrients vital for health and its maintenance. People who eat more fruits and vegetables are likely to have a reduced risk of chronic diseases.
- Most fruits are naturally low in fat, calories, sodium and have no cholesterol.
- Fruits are sources of essential nutrients, like potassium, folate, vitamin C, and dietary fiber.
- Diets rich in potassium help in maintaining healthy blood pressure. Fruit sources of potassium include; bananas, kiwis, apricots, guava, and honeydew melon.
- Dietary fiber from fruits helps control blood cholesterol and lowers the risk of heart disease, fiber aids in proper bowel functions. Whole fruits are good sources of dietary fiber, but fruit juices have little or no fiber.
- Vitamin C is important in the growth, repair of all body tissues, helps in the healing of wounds and cuts, maintaining gum health, and also helps in the absorption of iron into our bodies.
- Phytochemicals found in fruits provide antioxidants and anti-inflammatory properties to protect the body from some chronic diseases.
- Eating fruits as part of an overall healthy diet helps in lowering calorie intake. Include plenty of fruits in your meals either eating together with other food groups on a plate or as a snack will help one watch out for calories.
- Eating a diet rich in vegetables and fruits as part of an overall healthy diet may reduce the risk for heart disease, including heart attack and stroke.
- Eating a diet rich in some vegetables and fruits as part of an overall healthy diet may protect against certain types of cancers.
- Adding fruit can help increase intake of fiber and potassium, which are significant nutrients that modern diets have little or none.
- Keep or store fruits where it’s easy to see at all times. Talk about optical nutrition at work.
- Choose a variety of fruits. Eat different fruits to make it fun.
- Go for the fruit of the season. Sometimes some fruits can be expensive, but the fruits of the season will always be affordable.
- Mix sliced fruit with yogurt or cereal.
- Add apple chunks, pineapple, grapes, or raisins to your chicken or tuna salads.
- Make fruit smoothies by blending fresh or frozen fruit, fruit juice, and yogurt.
- Add dried or fresh fruit to oatmeal, pancakes, and waffles.
- Remember to top salads with dried cranberries, raisins, sliced pears, oranges, strawberries, blackberries, or raspberries.