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Fruit Nutrition

Lots of research has been done on fruit nutrition and all of it indicates that eating high quantities of fruits and vegetables as part of your daily diet is beneficial in reducing the risk of many types of diseases. The nutrients in fruits and vegetables have been shown to decrease the risk of heart disease and stroke, to prevent many types of cancer, and to help stop such eye health problems as macular degeneration and cataracts.

Among the many nutrients in fruit are potassium, vitamin C, dietary fiber, and folate. Potassium can help lower blood pressure, aid normal heart function, and stop fat from building up to clog arteries. Potassium is also linked to maintaining bone density and may even reduce the risk of  acquiring kidney stones. Potassium-rich fruits include bananas, dried peaches and apricots, prunes and prune juice, orange juice, cantaloupe and honeydew melon.

The dietary fiber in fruit helps to maintain good bowel movement, reducing constipation and diverticulosis. It also plays an important role in reducing blood cholesterol levels and helping lower our risk of heart disease. These advantages are from whole and cut-up fruits--the same fiber content is not present in fruit juices. The most fiber content found in juice is in those containing a large amount of pulp.

Vitamin C is one of the most important vitamins for human health. It is essential for the health of body tissues, strengthening the immune system, having healthy gums and teeth, and it aids in the body’s healing of itself should we have wounds or cuts. Vitamin C is an antioxidant, and as such it can protect us at the cellular level from free radicals that can cause all types of cell damage. Research has even shown that vitamin C may help reduce the risk of heart disease and some forms of cancer. Vitamin C is present in such fruits as strawberries, blackberries, bananas, apples, kiwi, oranges, cantaloupe, watermelon, lemon, grapes, tomatoes, peaches, and lime.

Folate, or folic acid is another component of fruit--nutrition essentials gained from folate are the production of red blood cells. These are especially important to pregnant women as the fetus needs lots of folic acid during the first trimester as it reduces the chances of certain birth defects. These include tube defects--spina bifida, a spinal cord defect, and anencephaly, a defect where the fetus doesn‘t develop a brain and usually dies in the womb or shortly after birth. Folate is the word used when this vitamin is found in fruits, and folic acid is what it’s called in supplements. Fruits having folate include kiwi, cantaloupe, blackberries, oranges, tomatoes, bananas and strawberries.

Vitamin A is present in blackberries, tomatoes, oranges, cantaloupes, kiwi, watermelon, and peaches. We need vitamin A for several different purposes, including strengthening the immune system, cell reproduction, and aiding in the growth of some hormones. It also helps us have healthy skin, hair, and mucous membranes. Research shows vitamin A can help prevent acquiring measles.

Eating adequate amounts of fruits and vegetables is the number one thing you can do stay healthy. Everyone should eat a minimum of 2 cups of fruit and 2-½ cups of vegetables every day. The most fruit nutrition benefits are obtained from having at least 5 servings every day--5 to 9 servings is ideal. Fruits are low fat, contain fiber, essential vitamins and minerals, phytochemicals, and antioxidants. They also have fruitose, a natural sugar, that is better for the body than the processed white sugars found in so many popular foods. So, add as many fruits as you can to your diet and you will live longer and be healthier.


 

 


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