Did you know there are approximately 6,000 different fruits in the world? Not one of the 6,000 known fruits has cholesterol. They're low in fat, sodium, and calories. Summer is here, and with it comes bright, fresh, zero points on Weight Watchers' PointsPlus program fruit. Fruit can be your best friend in the summer. Summer (at least in Texas) is peak fruit season, so I suggest you stock up. My mom used to make a fruit salad that had kiwi, strawberries, and bananas in it- it was simple and healthy- a great alternative for this (at the time) no-veggies-in-my-diet girl. All of my life, I've loved fruit- any fruit. Strawberries and watermelon and bananas are my favorite, closely followed by apple, grapefruit, grapes, and blackberries. If the delicious, refreshing, coldness of fruit on a hot summer day isn't enticing enough for your skeptics out there, I've listed a few of the things you may not know about fruit below. Enjoy!
Hungover? Believe it or not, it is an amazing hangover cure, offering water and antioxidants and nutrients found in their purest form. Rough morning? Slice up some watermelon and strawberries and bananas- you'll be feeling great in no time. Any type of melon is going to be packed with water, and really refreshing for you.
Post Workout? Your body needs both protein and simple-carbs (sugars) after a workout, so grab a banana. Bananas don't have a crazy amount of protein, but they do have some. Grapes are great, too, but don't offer the protein. (For a more tasty post-workout treat, Andy swears by low-fat chocolate milk. Low-fat chocolate milk has protein, simple-carbs, calcium, and nutrients are in a more pure form than found in Gatorade or sports drinks.)
System backed up? Gross, I know, but it happens. Grab an apple- the fiber will help bring relief. This is true for cramping (yes, all kinds of cramps), too.
Lack of nutrients? Has your doctor ever told you that you need more iron in your diet? How about more folate? Instead of rushing to the pharmacy for iron-in-a-pill, grab some fruits instead.
Thanks to http://www.fruitsandveggiesmatter.gov/, I've made a list of some of the common nutrient deficiencies, and fruits (and some veggies) that can help. Remember, as a general rule- the more colorful they are, the better they are for you!
- Fiber: beans, beans, beans (all kinds of beans!), but beware refried- filled with cream and butter, apples, artichokes
- Folate: spinach
- Potassium: sweet potatoes, carrots, bananas
- Vitamin C: kiwi, strawberries, cantaloupe, pineapple, oranges, mangoes
BIG NO-NO! DO. NOT. THROW. OUT. EXPIRING. FRUIT. There's just no excuse for it. If your bananas are turning black or your watermelon is looking soggy, throw it in a ziplock bag and freeze it for smoothies- there's no excuse to throw out any of it. You can also use frozen fruit to make margaritas- see post here: El Grado Watermelon Margarita.
To buy organic, or not to buy organic- that is the question. "Organic" just means that the fruits were grown without using pesticides. If you can afford organic, of course, go with the organic. If you're like me and on a budget, buy organic when you need to.
"Need to buy organic" foods are those without skins. Bananas, cantaloupe, watermelon- those are all okay to buy non-organic because they're protected by that outer layer of skin. Strawberries, grapes, and apples, however, all all examples of fruits you want to try to buy organically grown. If you can't afford the organic line or it isn't available near you, just be sure to wash the fruit throughly.
Health Advantages: If someone told you that you could increase vitality and decrease health problems in one easy step, you'd do it, right? So grab your fruit and check this out. Incorporating fresh fruit in your diet has been linked with the following: (thanks to http://www.mypyramid.gov/)
- Reduced risk of stroke and other cardiovascular diseases
- Reduced risk for type 2 diabetes
- Protection against some cancers like mouth, stomach, and colon-rectum
- Reduced risk of coronary heart disease
- Reduced risk of developing kidney stones
- Decreased bone loss
- Lower calorie intake
- Lower blood pressure
- Lower cholesterol
- Repairing body tissues
- Healthier teeth & gums
So next time you go to the grocery store- you have no excuse. Spend some time in your fresh produce section- do your body good.
Weight Watchers PointsPlus Value: 0. zero. ZERO. nada!
- 1 c blackberries
- 1 c strawberries, sliced
- 1/2 green apple, sliced
- 1/2 red apple, sliced
- 1 banana, sliced
- Chill serving bowls in freezer for 30 mins.
- Combine all fruit in a large bowl.
- Divide up into smaller, chilled bowls for serving.
**I have also seen a cool idea of putting the fruit slices on wooden skewers and serving them as a side. This way, the softer fruits like blackberries and bananas won't get squished. Also, some people are picking about their foods mixing- I think that'd be a really great way to serve a fruit salad at a large party.