How many times have you been told to eat more fruits and vegetables? According to the USDA, the average person should eat approximately 1.5-2 cups of fruits per day. Fruits are an important source of fiber and antioxidants and have been shown to reduce risk of cancers and other chronic diseases. However, it is important to keep in mind that all fruits are NOT created equal!
The National Kidney Foundation offer 5 tips for making healthy fruit choices:
Watch for the dried disguise. Often touted as a “healthy snack,” dried fruits can be packed with calories and should be limited in your diet. Check out these calorie counts:
1 cup of raisins = 493 calories
1 cup of dried dates = 414 calories
1 cup of dried prunes = 418 calories
These fresh fruit options are all less than 100 calories:
1 medium apple
1 medium banana
1 cup blueberries
1 cup grapes
To put it in perspective, the dried fruits listed above contain more calories than a chocolate frosted cake donut (370 calories)! Be informed and choose your calories wisely!
Fruits can contain fat. Avocados contain many important vitamins and nutrients, especially Vitamins E and C. They are a source of the “healthy” fats, but avocados are also high in calories. One avocado contains 322 calories. If you choose to eat avocado, eat ¼ of it instead of the whole fruit.
Drink juice with caution. A study published in BMJ in 2013 linked higher fruit juice consumption with increased risk for developing Type 2 diabetes. In addition, fruit juices are typically high in calories and do not contain the fiber that is found in the whole fruit, so they aren’t likely to “fill you up” in the same way as eating the actual fruit.
Canned or frozen can come out on top. When fresh fruit is not available, canned or frozen fruit is a good option. Look for fruit that is packaged in 100% fruit juice and does not have any added sugar, syrup or other high calorie ingredients. Canned and frozen fruits may also be less expensive and can be bought in bulk since they have a longer shelf life.
Don’t let prices stand in the way of eating fruit. Fruits currently in season are usually less expensive. Your local farmers market is a good place to shop and celebrate the season! Using coupons when available can also be an effective and cost-effective way to buy fruits. If you like gardening, planting and growing your own fruits can also be a cost-effective way to eat fruit. Buy whole fruits and prep them yourself because fruits that are pre-cut, cubed or sliced are usually more expensive.
The bottom line: Fruits are an important and necessary part of your daily diet, but they do contain natural sugars and calories. Select wisely and consume high calorie fruits and fruit juices in moderation. Remember, variety is as important as quantity!
Please note that actual calorie content may vary by brand.