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Is Fruit Important to a Healthy Diet?

FruitDietJacquie Eubanks RN BSN

As no single fruit or vegetable provides all of the nutrients necessary to support health, daily consumption of a variety of fruits and vegetables is universally promoted to be part of a healthy diet. Often lumped together as a food group, fruits and vegetables provide fiber and a wide array of nourishing health promoting compounds vital for health maintenance and overall healthy function. On their own, fruits are considered to be particularly nutrient dense foods. High in soluble fiber and low in calories and sodium, fruits also provide simple sugars, vitamins and minerals, along with beneficial plant sterols, polyphenols, flavonoids and other antioxidants. These compounds help to boost immune defense, as well as safeguard cellular health by protecting against oxidative stress.

Consuming a variety of colorful fruits and vegetables helps to ensure adequate intake of essential nutrients and helps prevent deficiencies. Those who regularly include fruit as part of a healthy eating plan generally have a reduced risk of developing chronic diseases, including cardiovascular diseases, stroke, type 2 diabetes, age-related macular degeneration and certain cancers. The USDA recommends consuming at least two cups or two pieces of fruit daily. The healthiest choices are fresh or frozen fruits without added sweeteners or sauces. Per the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), fruits provide fiber that can assist weight management and digestive health, as well as support healthy cholesterol levels. To receive the benefits of diverse phytochemicals, choose from a wide variety of colorful fruits.

Orange: Beta-carotenes found in orange fruits are converted by the body into vitamin A, a nutrient particularly important for healthy vision, as well as immune, skin and bone health. Oranges, for example, contain flavonoids such as hesperidin, which supports healthy cholesterol and arterial function. Orange fruits contain antioxidants and vitamin C, which promote immune and cellular health, as well as D-limonene, a compound that may help prevent certain cancers including lung, breast and skin cancers.

Red: Particularly nutritious red fruits contain components such as lycopene, ellagic acid, hesperidin, quercetin, fiber and vitamins A and C. Benefits of consuming red fruits like cherries, tomatoes, apples, and berries include support for proper blood pressure and cholesterol levels, gastrointestinal health and collagen formation in arthritic joints. Red fruits also provide protection against heart disease, oxidative stress and inflammatory conditions.

Yellow: Those looking to support healthy bones, skin, and teeth, as well as heart, digestive and immune health, should look to packing their diet with yellow fruits. These sunny colored fruits are teeming with carotenoids, antioxidants and vitamin C. Heart healthy yellow fruits support heathy cholesterol and blood pressure levels, as well as proper pH balance.

Blue/Purple: Richly hued blue and purple fruits provide anthocyanins that support healthy blood pressure and cholesterol levels, ramp up free radical defenses and soothe inflammation. Fruits such as blueberries, plums, grapes and elderberries act as anti-carcinogens to limit the activity of cancer cells, while boosting immune activity and improving calcium and mineral absorption.

Green: Green fruits, such as apples and melons, support retinal health and vision, fight harmful free radicals, boost immune activity, normalize digestion, and help lower blood pressure and LDL cholesterol levels.

White: White fruits such as pears, bananas and stone fruits provide beta-glucans and lignans, as well as a chemical known as EGCG, that has been shown to reduce colon and breast cancer risk. Beta-glucans boost immune health and encourage the formation of T cells, lymphocytes that defend the body against illness and harmful infection-causing invaders.

As a result of the disease-supportive typical American diet filled with too many processed foods, sugars, refined grains and unhealthy fats, the need for fruit consumption has increased. Fortunately, there’s more than one way to incorporate fruit into the diet. Frozen fruits are an excellent alternative when certain fruits are unavailable or out of season. Healthy powdered fruits are convenient for smoothies or when traveling. Choose a variety of brightly colored fresh fruits when in season. Fresh fruits may also be frozen or preserved at home to be enjoyed at a later date.

Seasonal fruits purchased locally, when possible, are rich sources of beta-carotenes, polyphenols and anthocyanidins. To get the full fiber benefit, consume the entire fruit as well as the peel and membrane. To enjoy the true flavor and receive the maximum nutritional benefits, make whole fresh or frozen fruit a regular part of your daily diet. Many think of fruits as nature’s gift to mankind. Packed with life-enhancing and health supportive components, fruits can be enjoyed not only for nutrition but for the sheer joy of their natural sweetness and deliciousness!

Professional Supplement Center offers these and other high quality health-supportive nutrients:

Power Greens BerryPower Greens® Berry by NuMedica: This easy mixing, energizing phytonutrient powdered formula offers certified organic, whole food plant extracts in support of powerful antioxidant protection and healthy immune function. Formula includes individual blends of fiber, digestive ingredients, antioxidants and vegetables as well as a fruit blend containing natural vitamins, minerals, enzymes and phytonutrients. Wheat, dairy, egg, shellfish, tree nut, peanut and artificial ingredient free, vegetarian formulation. Also available in Mint, Expresso and Chocolate flavors.

Ultra Greens pHUltra Greens pH by Nutra BioGenesis®: This powdered superfood greens formula provides phytonutrients, antioxidants and broad spectrum supportive enzymes for healthy digestion, circulation, pH balance and optimal nutritional status. Gluten free.

Organic Greens Reds...Organic Greens and Reds by Douglas Laboratories®: This concentrated, all natural phytonutrient powdered blend is formulated with organic grasses, fruits, vegetables and botanicals to provide nutritional support for digestive and overall health. Soy free, vegan formulation.

PaleoRedsPaleoReds® by Designs for Health®: This formula provides all the nutritional goodness of high quality, antioxidant-rich red/purple fruits, vegetables, phytonutrients and digestive enzymes in support of  healthy aging and common chronic disease risk reduction. Contains more than 70 percent certified organic ingredients. Natural strawberry flavored.

References:
Increasing fruit and vegetable consumption to reduce the risk of noncommunicable diseases. https://www.who.int/elena/titles/fruit_vegetables_ncds/en/
Why 5 A Day? https://www.nhs.uk/live-well/eat-well/why-5-a-day/
Why is it important to eat fruit? https://www.choosemyplate.gov/fruits-nutrients-health
Health Benefits of Fruits and Vegetables. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3649719/
Paradoxical Effects of Fruit on Obesity. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5084020/
Using Color as a Guide to a Better Diet: 9 Health Benefits of Red Fruits and Vegetables. https://www.ahealthiermichigan.org/2011/03/22/using-color-as-a-guide-to-a-better-diet-9-health-benefits-of-red-fruits-and-vegetables/
Color Chart of Healthy Fruits and Vegetables. https://www.disabled-world.com/fitness/nutrition/fruits-veggies/colored.php

 

Nutrition vs. Diet

NutritionDietJacquie Eubanks RN BSN

Come the New Year, those seeking to improve their overall health generally start with new fitness and diet resolutions. Some may think that getting healthier means strict calorie reduction for weight loss, or exercising to the point of fatigue. In reality, the path to good health is measured by proper nutrition and hydration, as well as physical fitness. Even those at a healthy weight may be making poor nutritional choices that can negatively affect long term health. Those who follow a satisfying exercise session with an unhealthy meal are less likely to improve their body composition or meet their training goals. Good intentions often fall prey to busy schedules and commitments, leaving one to resort to processed or convenience foods at the expense of good nutrition. Eating a well-balanced diet provides the body with the nutrients required for good cellular health and function.

When even the thought of a “diet” makes you uneasy, it may be that the word itself implies denial and hunger. In some instances, it’s used to describe low calorie commercial foods like diet soda. In reality, it more accurately describes a reduction of daily calories for weight loss or weight management. If you believe that dieting has too many rules, or believe you can overindulge as long as you do a little more exercise in an attempt to negate the added calories, it helps to remember just one thing—you can never outrun a poor diet. Some healthy diets are easier to follow and stick with over the long haul. Some don’t supply adequate nutrition to support healthy bodily functions. It’s the avoidance of nutritional deficiencies, not calorie counting, that one should be most concerned about.

Consuming healthy foods in the right amounts provides the energy your body needs for proper function and wellbeing. Improvements to the daily diet are associated with longer, healthier lifespans, as well as decreased risk of many chronic diseases. Many popular diets have common elements that are proven beneficial to heath, but no single one is clearly proven to be the best. However, Dr. David Katz, a practicing physician and researcher at Yale University’s Prevention Research Center states, “A predominately plant-based diet of minimally processed foods close to their natural state is positively associated with health promotion and disease prevention.” In other words, focus on real foods for energy production and long-term health.

A healthy diet is one that helps maintain and promote overall health and provides essential nutrition, including proteins, complex carbs, essential fatty acids, fiber, vitamins, minerals, and fluids. A focus on healthy, nutrient-rich foods can keep hunger at bay, minimize cravings, and help maintain healthy blood sugar and hunger hormone levels. Spending some time on food prep at home relates to better eating habits and healthier meals, especially when you choose recipes you can double or triple to use the next day or freeze for a night when you can’t find time to cook. While some focus on healthy eating 80% of the time and save 20% for splurges, perhaps try eating more mindfully until you’re 80% full, which can help prevent overeating.

The World Health Organization describes good nutrition as a well-balanced intake of food, considered in relation to the body’s dietary needs. Further, poor nutrition can lead to reduced immunity, increased susceptibility to disease, impaired physical and mental development and wellness, and reduced productivity. Remember that your daily food choices affect how you feel today, tomorrow and in the future. Research shows that the most successful motivation for sticking to a healthy lifestyle is not weight loss, but rather improved physical and mental health, as well as higher self-esteem. If you’re unsure what to eat, you can’t go wrong with a balanced plan that includes protein, complex carbs, healthy fats and a wide variety of colorful fruits and vegetables. While you don’t have to make drastic changes overnight, for better long-term results, begin by improving both your nutrition and your activity level.

Professional Supplement Center carries many high quality products formulated to support daily and long-term health:

Nutrient 950 with...Nutrient 950® with NAC by Pure Encapsulations®: This complete hypoallergenic, nutrient-rich formula provides highly bioavailable vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and cofactors for optimal nutritional support of all bodily systems. Gluten and soy free, Non-GMO vegetarian formulation.

Nutritional Flakes,...Nutritional Flakes, Q. by Quantum Nutrition Labs: Suitable for daily use, this product provides an ideal source of high quality, bioavailable vegan protein containing essential and non-essential amino acids, as well as additional B vitamins. No artificial ingredients.

SeroPlusSeroPlus by Pure Encapsulations®: This product supplies neurotransmitter precursors to help maintain healthy serotonin activity to promote relaxation, moderate occasional stress and support healthy eating behavior. Gluten free, Non-GMO, hypoallergenic, vegetarian formulation.

PaleoRedsPaleoReds™ by Designs for Health®: This professional whole food formulation provides high quality, antioxidant-rich, nutritionally dense fruits and vegetables in powdered form. Natural strawberry-banana flavor, 70% organic ingredients, and nothing artificial.

Get Healthy GreensGet Healthy Greens by Prescribed Choice: This hypoallergenic, easily digestible, whole food drink mix provides a wide variety of nutrients to support cellular metabolism, increased energy levels, normal intestinal health and superior antioxidant protection. Non-GMO, glucose free, vegetarian formulation.

References:
What is Nutrition? http://ajcn.nutrition.org/content/77/5/1093.full
What is Diet & Nutrition? https://www.takingcharge.csh.umn.edu/enhance-your-wellbeing/health/diet-nutrition/what-diet-nutrition
Science Compared Every Diet, and the Winner Is Real Food. https://www.theatlantic.com/health/archive/2014/03/science-compared-every-diet-and-the-winner-is-real-food/284595/
Eating the Right Foods for Exercise. https://www.healthline.com/health/fitness-exercise-eating-healthy
Importance of Good Nutrition. https://www.hhs.gov/fitness/eat-healthy/importance-of-good-nutrition/index.html