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MyPlate Week, Day 4: A Fruitful Force

June 9, 2011

Day four of “MyPlate” week is dedicated to the fruits portion of the plate. Most fruits provide a sweet flavor that can be a nutritious and lower calorie substitute for traditional sweets and desserts. Below is some insight on why fruit is a nutritious and delicious addition to your plate.

A FRUITFUL FIGHTING FORCE

Fruits pack a serious punch when it comes to health protection. Among fruit’s repertoire are essential vitamins, mineral, and fiber that can help protect your body against diseases. Diets high in fruit have been linked to decreased risk of diseases such as stroke, cardiovascular diseases, and certain cancers. Here are a few reasons why fruits help protect our bodies:

  • Potassium Rich: Some fruits are rich in potassium which may help you to maintain a healthy blood pressure. Sources of high potassium fruits are oranges, cantaloupe, apricots, dried peaches, prunes and prune juice and honeydew melon
  • Fiber-filled: Fiber is important for blood cholesterol and digestive health. Fiber filled fruits include apples, prunes, and figs, to name a few.
  • High-C: Many fruits are packed with vitamin C, which is important for growth and repair of all body tissues, helps to heal wounds, and keeps our dental health in check.

MAKE IT A QUARTER

The Dietary Guidelines recommend making half of your plate fruits and vegetables. Therefore, a whopping ¼ of the plate should be devoted to fruits alone.  For those of you who may find it a challenge to get your fruits in, here are some suggestions to fill each meal’s plate with fruity goodness:

  • Breakfast: Add strawberries, blueberries, or bananas to your waffles, cereal, oatmeal or toast. Ever have a peanut butter and banana slice sandwich? That counts, too!
  • Lunch:  Adding some chopped apples, pears, or raisins to a salad is a delicious way to incorporate fruit while feeding that sweet tooth. 
  • Dinner: Make your fruit a dessert! Cut up watermelon, pineapple or strawberries and top with a tablespoon of light whipped topping

SERVIN’ EM’ UP!

It is not uncommon for people to be confused about what counts as a “serving”  of fruits so here is a quick-and-dirty reference guide with one-serving examples:

  • 1 small apple
  • 1 small banana
  • 16 grapes
  • 1 large plum
  • 4 large strawberries
  • 1 small wedge of watermelon
  • ½  medium grapefruit

For more info on fruits and all of the other food groups represented on MyPlate, check out choosemyplate.gov.

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