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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