A plant-based diet is the most dramatic lifestyle change you can make to help save the planet and its animals. It also provides a wealth of 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 underconsumed, 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 helps reduce blood cholesterol levels and may lower risk of heart disease. Fiber is important for proper bowel function. It helps reduce constipation and diverticulosis. 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 may reduce risk for heart disease, including heart attack and stroke.
Eating a diet rich in some vegetables and fruits may protect against certain types of cancers.
Diets rich in foods containing fiber, such as some vegetables and fruits, may reduce the risk of heart disease, obesity, and type 2 diabetes.
Eating vegetables and fruits rich in potassium may lower blood pressure, and may also reduce the risk of developing kidney stones and help to decrease bone loss.
Eating foods such as fruits that are lower in calories per cup instead of some other higher-calorie food may be useful in helping to lower calorie intake.
Tips To Help You Eat Fruits
Keep a bowl of whole fruit on the table, counter, or in the refrigerator.
Refrigerate cut-up fruit to store for later.
Buy fresh fruits in season when they may be less expensive and at their peak flavor.
Buy fruits that are dried, frozen, and canned (in water or 100% juice) as well as fresh, so that you always have a supply on hand.
Consider convenience when shopping. Try pre-cut packages of fruit (such as melon or pineapple chunks) for a healthy snack in seconds. Choose packaged fruits that do not have added sugars.
For The Best Nutritional Value
Make most of your choices whole or cut-up fruit rather than juice, for the benefits dietary fiber provides.
Select fruits with more potassium often, such as bananas, prunes and prune juice, dried peaches and apricots, and orange juice.
When choosing canned fruits, select fruit canned in 100% fruit juice or water rather than syrup.
Vary your fruit choices. Fruits differ in nutrient content.
At breakfast, top your cereal with bananas or peaches; add blueberries to pancakes; drink 100% orange or grapefruit juice.
At lunch, pack a tangerine, banana, or grapes to eat, or choose fruits from a salad bar. Individual containers of fruits like peaches or applesauce are easy and convenient.
At dinner, add crushed pineapple to vegan coleslaw, or include orange sections or grapes in a tossed salad.
Make a Waldorf salad, with apples, celery, walnuts, and a low-calorie, low-sugar salad dressing.
Add fruit like pineapple or peaches to vegetable kabobs.
For dessert, have baked apples, pears, or a fruit salad.
Cut-up fruit makes a great snack. Either cut them yourself, or buy pre-cut packages of fruit pieces like pineapples or melons. Or, try whole fresh berries or grapes.
Dried fruits also make a great snack. They are easy to carry and store well. Because they are dried, ¼ cup is equivalent to ½ cup of other fruits.
Keep a package of dried fruit in your desk or bag. Some fruits that are available dried include apricots, apples, pineapple, bananas, cherries, figs, dates, cranberries, blueberries, prunes (dried plums), and raisins (dried grapes).
As a snack, spread vegan peanut butter on apple slices.
Frozen juice bars (100% juice) make healthy alternatives to high-fat snacks.
Make Fruit More Appealing
Many fruits taste great with a healthy dip or dressing.
Make a fruit smoothie with fresh or frozen fruit. Try bananas, peaches, strawberries, or other berries.
Try unsweetened applesauce as a healthier substitute for some of the oil when baking cakes.
Try different textures of fruits. For example, apples are crunchy, bananas are smooth and creamy, and oranges are juicy.
For fresh fruit salads, mix apples, bananas, or pears with acidic fruits like oranges, pineapple, or lemon juice to keep them from turning brown.
Fruit Tips For Children
Set a good example for children by eating fruit every day with meals or as snacks.
Offer children a choice of fruits for lunch.
Depending on their age, children can help shop for, clean, peel, or cut up fruits.
While shopping, allow children to pick out a new fruit to try later at home.
Decorate plates or serving dishes with fruit slices.
Top off a bowl of cereal with some berries. Or, make a smiley face with sliced bananas for eyes, raisins for a nose, and an orange slice for a mouth.
Offer raisins or other dried fruits instead of candy.
Make fruit kabobs using pineapple chunks, bananas, grapes, and berries.
Pack a juice box (100% juice) in child lunches instead of soda or other sugar-sweetened beverages.
Look for and choose fruit options, such as sliced apples, mixed fruit cup, or 100% fruit juice in fast food restaurants.
Offer fruit pieces and 100% fruit juice to children. There is often little fruit in “fruit-flavored” beverages or chewy fruit snacks.
Keep It Safe
Rinse fruits before preparing or eating them. Under clean, running water, rub fruits briskly with your hands to remove dirt and surface microorganisms. Dry with a clean cloth towel or paper towel after rinsing.