This information has been reviewed and adapted for use in South Carolina by J. G. Hunter, HGIC Information Specialist, and K. L. Cason, Professor, State EFNEP Coordinator, Clemson University. (New 09/05.)
The Dietary Guidelines for Americans 2005 recommends eating 2 cups of fruits every day, based on a 2,000-calorie diet. For example, that is one small banana, one large orange, and ¼ cup of dried peaches or apricots. You may need to eat more or less, depending on your calorie level.
Eating a diet rich in fruits and vegetables as part of an overall healthy diet may reduce your risk for:
Fruits are represented by the red band on MyPyramid, USDA’s latest food guide, which shows that foods from all groups are needed daily for good health. This group includes all fruits—fresh, frozen, canned and dried. They may be eaten cut-up, whole, pureed, or as 100% fruit juice.
Eat a variety of fruits. To get the dietary fiber you need, make most of your choices whole or cut-up fruits rather than fruit juices. Commonly eaten fruits include: apples, apricots, avocado, bananas, berries (strawberries, blueberries, blackberries, raspberries, cherries), grapefruit, grapes, kiwi fruit, lemons, limes, mangoes, melons (cantaloupe, honeydew, watermelon), fruit cocktail, nectarines, oranges, peaches, pears, papaya, pineapple, plums, prunes, raisins, and tangerines.
Most fruits are rich in dietary fiber and nutrients while being cholesterol-free, low in fats, sodium and total calories.
Fruits Contain Several Nutrients:
Potassium—may help to maintain healthy blood pressure.
Dietary fiber—helps reduce blood cholesterol levels, may lower risk of heart disease, helps reduce constipation and diverticulosis, and helps provide a feeling of fullness with fewer calories.
Vitamin C—helps heal cuts and wounds, keeps teeth and gums healthy, and aids in iron absorption.
Folate (folic acid)—helps to form red blood cells, and is important during pregnancy to reduce a woman’s risk of having a baby with a spinal cord or brain defect.
Phytochemicals—help protect against diseases, serve as antioxidants, detoxifiers, immune boosters and anti-inflammatories. Inflammation plays a major role in heart attacks, some cancers, allergies, Alzheimer’s, and autoimmune diseases.
Fruit Sources of Each Nutrient:
Potassium—bananas, prunes and prune juice, dried peaches and apricots, pomegranates, cantaloupe, honeydew melon, grapefruits, oranges/orange juice.
Dietary fiber—whole or cut-up fruits, with skin. Fruit juices contain little or no fiber.
Vitamin C—pomegranates, guava, kiwi, oranges, grapefruits, strawberries, raspberries, cantaloupe, papaya, pineapple and mangoes.
Folate (folic acid)—oranges and avocados.
Phytochemicals—two common ones are anthocyanins (in blueberries, cherries, blackberries, and raspberries) and quercitin (in apples).
Deeply colored fruits and vegetables contain the most vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants. This includes all purple, deep red, bright orange, bright yellow, and dark green plant foods. Enjoy some of every color daily.
Most people should eat about 2 cups per day. The exact amount you need depends on your age, sex, and level of physical activity. The following amounts are appropriate for people who get less than 30 minutes per day of moderate physical activity, beyond normal daily activities. If you are more physically active, you may be able to eat more while staying within your calorie needs.
For an exact amount for you, refer to the chart below or visit www.mypyramid.gov
|Children||2-3 years old||1 cup|
|4-8 years old||1 to 1½ cups|
|Girls||9-13 years old||1½ cups|
|14-18 years old||1½ cups|
|Boys||9-13 years old||1½ cups|
|14-18 years old||2 cups|
|Women||19-30 years old||2 cups|
|31+ years old||1½ cups|
|Men||19 years and over||2 cups|
1 cup = 1 cup fruit = 1 cup 100% fruit juice = ½ cup dried fruit = 1 medium-sized piece of fruit
Other amounts that count as 1 cup of fruit:
Banana: 1 cup, sliced or 1 large (8" to 9" long)
Cantaloupe: ¼ of a medium melon
Grapes: 32 seedless grapes
Peach: 1 large (2¾" diameter) or 2 halves (canned)
Plums: 3 medium or 2 large plums
Raisins: 2 small boxes (1.5 oz. each)
Strawberries: about 8 large berries
Watermelon: 1 small wedge (1" thick)
For more 1-cup equivalents, visit www.mypyramid.gov/pyramid/fruits_counts.html
Only 100% real fruit juice has all the vitamins and minerals found naturally in fruit juice. Other fruit drinks have less real juice and more added sugar and water.
|Drink||% Real Juice|
|Orange juice drink||50%|
|Orange drink (such as Hi-C® and Hawaiian Punch®)||10%|
|Imitation orange juice
Imitation orange drink (such as Tang®)
Powdered fruit ade mixes (such as Kool-Aid®)
Always read labels and check the list of ingredients. Remember that the ingredients listed first occur in the greatest amount.
These fruits continue to ripen at room temperature after they are picked: apricots, bananas, cantaloupe, kiwi, mangoes, nectarines, peaches, pears, and plums. For faster ripening, put them in a loosely closed brown paper bag or a ripening bowl at room temperature. Ripening bowls are sold at many stores that sell home kitchen supplies. (Note: Plastic bags do not work.)
Some fruits will not ripen further once they are picked. Buy or pick the following fruits fully ripened and ready-to-eat: apples, cherries, grapes, grapefruit, oranges, pineapple, strawberries, tangerines and watermelon.
Once fully ripened, fruits may be stored in the refrigerator to lengthen storage time. Refrigerated bananas will turn dark brown on the outside, but the inside will remain light-colored.
Keep cut fruits, such as apples, pears, bananas and peaches, from turning brown by coating them with one of the following:
USDA researchers have developed three techniques to prolong the shelf life of already-cut fruits available in grocery stores: slicing while holding under water, using heat and ultraviolet light. For more information, visit http://www.ars.usda.gov/is/AR/archive/aug05/fruit0805.htm?pf=1
Compare the different forms of fruit to see which one is the best buy—fresh, frozen or canned.
Buy fresh fruits in season when they are usually lower in cost and at their peak flavor. Avoid soft, moldy or bruised fruit. The bruises you cut away are wasted money.
Want more nutrition for your money? Frozen fruit juice is a better buy than soft drinks. Small fruits are cheaper than packaged cakes and candy bars.
Plan ahead. Buy a variety of nutrient-rich foods for meals and snacks throughout the week. Take this basic fruit shopping list with you every time you go to the grocery store:
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This information is supplied with the understanding that no discrimination is intended and no endorsement by the Clemson University Cooperative Extension Service is implied. All recommendations are for South Carolina conditions and may not apply to other areas. Use pesticides only according to the directions on the label. All recommendations for pesticide use are for South Carolina only and were legal at the time of publication, but the status of registration and use patterns are subject to change by action of state and federal regulatory agencies. Follow all directions, precautions and restrictions that are listed.