Weekly Wellness: Are you eating enough fruit?
COLUMBIA - A new report shows that only about one in every 10 Americans eats enough fruits and vegetables. Just 13 percent of U.S. residents consume one and a half to two cups of fruit every day as recommended by federal dietary guidelines, researchers from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found.
Eating fruit provides health benefits — people who eat more fruits and vegetables as part of an overall healthy diet are likely to have a reduced risk of some chronic diseases. Fruits provide nutrients vital for health and maintenance of your body.
- Most fruits are naturally low in fat, sodium, and calories. None have cholesterol.
- Fruits are sources of many essential nutrients that are under-consumed, including potassium, dietary fiber, vitamin C, and folate (folic acid).
- Diets rich in potassium may help to maintain healthy blood pressure. Fruit sources of potassium include bananas, prunes and prune juice, dried peaches and apricots, cantaloupe, honeydew melon, and orange juice.
- Dietary fiber from fruits, as part of an overall healthy diet, helps reduce blood cholesterol levels and may lower risk of heart disease. Fiber is important for proper bowel function. Fiber-containing foods such as fruits help provide a feeling of fullness with fewer calories. Whole or cut-up fruits are sources of dietary fiber; fruit juices contain little or no fiber.
- Vitamin C is important for growth and repair of all body tissues, helps heal cuts and wounds, and keeps teeth and gums healthy.
- Folate (folic acid) helps the body form red blood cells. Women of childbearing age who may become pregnant should consume adequate folate from foods, and in addition 400 mcg of synthetic folic acid from fortified foods or supplements. This reduces the risk of neural tube defects, spina bifida, and anencephaly during fetal development.
- Eating a diet rich in vegetables and fruits as part of an overall healthy diet may reduce risk for heart disease, including heart attack, stroke, some cancers, type 2 diabetes, and can lower blood pressure.
After all of that amazing data, why wouldn’t you try to include more fruit (and vegetables) into your daily diet. But maybe you need some more fun facts. Here are 15 things you might now know about fruit (and I found many of them fascinating):
1. A drupe is a stone fruit. Drupes have a hard pit or stone, which can be freestone or clingstone. Peaches, plums and cherries are drupes, but so are walnuts, almonds and pecans (although we eat the seed inside these instead of the fruit).
2. Prunes like to be called dried plums. It’s a bit of a PR thing. The California Dried Plum board conducted research showing that women ages 25 to 54 respond more favorably to the name dried plums instead of prunes.
3. Bananas in a bag can ripen avocados. If you’ve got an avocado that’s just not ready to eat, throw it in a paper bag with a ripe banana or apple. The ethylene gas produced by the banana or apple will expedite the ripening of the avocado.
4. Raspberries have the most fiber of all berries. All fruit contains fiber, but raspberries have more fiber per cup (8 grams) than other berries.
5. Coconut and avocados are the only fruits with fat. Most fruit is fat-free because the calories come from carbohydrate. Two notable exceptions are coconut and avocados, which derive most of their calories from fat.
6. Bell peppers are actually fruits. A fruit is the part of a plant that develops from a flower and has seeds, which means that bell peppers (and squash, cucumbers and pumpkins) fruits rather than vegetables.
7. Oranges aren’t your best source of vitamin C. Most fruits and veggies contain vitamin C, but kiwis blow oranges out of the water. They have twice as much vitamin C as oranges, and contain additional vitamins and minerals like potassium.
8. Every Hass Avocado can be traced back to the original Hass Mother Tree. According to the California Avocado Commission, the Hass Avocado is a California native. The Hass variety was discovered in La Habra Heights, Calif., and every Hass in the world can trace its lineage to the original Hass Mother Tree located there.
9. Your apple may be older than you think. With advances in cold storage technology, that apple harvested in the fall may be stored until it is sold the following spring or summer.
10. Peel your pomegranates under water. If you struggle to get the arils (seeds) out of a pomegranate, try cutting the pomegranate in half, and submerging it in a bowl of water. The seeds pop right out, the pith floats to the top and it’s a lot less messy than trying to cut it up on a countertop.
11. Grapefruit and certain medications can be a killer combination. When combined with certain types of medication, such as statins for lowering cholesterol, grapefruit and grapefruit juice can cause too much or too little medicine to be released into the body.
12. Peaches and nectarines are pretty much the same thing. Genetically, peaches and nectarines are quite similar. The primary difference is the fact that peach has fuzz on its skin while a nectarine does not.
13. Apple bananas have nothing to do with apples. If you’ve been to Hawaii and sampled the tiny and delicious apple banana, you may have wondered about its name. When the apple banana is young, its tangy and sweet taste has apple nuances. When ripened, the flavor becomes more tropical—similar to pineapple and strawberry in taste. But there are no actual apples in apple bananas.
14. Square watermelons are popular in Japan. Square watermelons are grown into a cube and are popular in Japan where small refrigerators mean space is at a premium.
15. Jackfruit can weight up to 100 pounds. A jackfruit can weigh up to 100 pounds and grow as big as 3 feet in length.