Photo credit: Marcia O’Connor, Flickr Creative Commons
Fruit, especially whole fruit, is one of nature's perfect foods. Fruits are naturally low in fat, sodium, and calories. They are good sources of fiber; none contain cholesterol. Fruits also are important sources of many nutrients. These include potassium, vitamin C, and folate (folic acid).
Potassium helps reduce blood pressure in those with high blood pressure. Fruits rich in potassium may also reduce the risk of developing kidney stones and protect against bone loss. Fruits high in potassium include:
- dried plums and prune juice
- dried peaches and
- honeydew melon
- orange juice
Vitamin C is important for growth and repair of all body tissues; it helps heal cuts and wounds, and keeps teeth and gums healthy. Fruits high in vitamin C include:
- citrus fruits
Folate (folic acid) helps your body form red blood cells. Women of childbearing age who become pregnant should consume adequate folate. This reduces the risk of neural tube defects and brain development problems as the fetus grows. Having adequate folate in your diet helps in heart health. Fruits high in folate include the following:
Tip: Purchase fresh fruit in season and frozen or canned fruit in winter months to stretch food dollars.
Eating a diet rich in fruit as part of an overall healthful diet may reduce the risk for:
- stroke and coronary heart diseases
- certain cancers, such as mouth, stomach, and colorectal cancer
- weight gain by lowering overall calorie intake
Tips Affecting Different Age Groups
How Much Fruit Should I Eat Each Day?
The amount of fruit you need to eat depends on your age, sex, and level of physical activity. In general, adults need 2 cup equivalents of fruit each day. School-age children need 1½ cups, and teens need 1½ to 2½ cups.
What Counts as a Cup?
One cup of fresh or frozen fruit, 1 cup of 100 percent fruit juice, or ½ cup of dried fruit can be considered equivalent to 1 cup from the fruit group. Limit juice to 1 cup per day to avoid excess weight gain.
Other examples of servings equal to 1 Cup of fruit:
- Apple: one small or ½ large
- Banana: one small or ½ large
- Cantaloupe: 1 cup chunks or 1 medium wedge
- Dried fruit: ½ cup
- Grapes: 1 cup or 32 seedless
- Grapefruit: 1 medium
- Orange or pear: 1 large
- Plums: 3 medium or 2 large
- Raisins: ¼ cup
- Strawberries: 8 large berries or 1 cup sliced
- Watermelon: 1 small wedge (1 inch thick)
Tips for Increasing Your Fruit Intake
- Keep a bowl of whole fruit on the table, counter, or cut up in the refrigerator.
- Buy fruits that are dried, frozen, and canned (in water or juice) as well as fresh so that you always have a supply on hand.
- Consider convenience when shopping. Buy packages of precut fruit (such as melon or
pineapple chunks) for a healthy snack.
- Select fruit canned in 100 percent fruit juice or water rather than syrup.
- Make fruit kabobs using pineapple chunks, bananas, grapes, and berries.
- Top off a bowl of hot or cold cereal with some berries or a banana.
- When eating out, choose options such as sliced apples, mixed fruit cup, or 100 percent fruit juices.
- Individual containers of fruits like peaches or applesauce are easy to pack in lunches.
- For dessert, try baked apples, pears, or a fresh fruit salad.
Examine Your Choices
|Food|| What I do now ||What I plan to buy/change|
|Eat more fruit||Only drink juice; eat little fruit||Purchase fresh fruits in season and add fruit to my lunch and as an afternoon snack|
My Goal: _______________________________________________________________________________
Combine 6 to 8 ice cubes, 1 cup skim milk, 8 ounces low-fat vanilla yogurt, and 10 strawberries in a blender. Serve at once. (various fruits may be used in the recipe; try banana, blueberries, mandarin oranges.)
This is a great low-calorie, high-calcium recipe.
Prepared by Katherine A. French, extension educator.
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and U.S. Department of Agriculture. 2015-2020 Dietary Guidelines for Americans. 8th ed. December 2015.