I was talking to a friend recently about new food ideas as we are both sometimes bored with our food choices. I mentioned that sometimes I eat breakfast for dinner- healthy french toast made with whole wheat bread dipped in egg whites with fresh fruit. She was amazed at the notion, never having thought of eating sweet potato pancakes for dinner. We discussed how fruit can be eaten as a snack or as an accompaniment to any meal and how sometimes its health benefits are underrated.
Eating fruit provides many health benefits, including potassium, fiber, vitamin C and folic acid. Most fruits are naturally low in fat, sodium and calories. Fruits do not contain cholesterol. Fruits that are rich in potassium may help to maintain healthy blood pressure. Fruits sources of potassium include bananas, prunes, cantaloupe and honeydew melon. Dietary fiber from fruits helps reduce cholesterol levels and may lower risk of heart disease. Fiber-containing fruits help provide a feeling of fullness which can help reduce calorie intake. Vitamin C is important for repair and growth of all body tissues, it helps heal cuts and keeps teeth and gums looking and feeling healthy. Folic acid helps the body form red blood cells. Folic acid is especially important for pregnant women because it reduces the risk of birth defects and aids in fetal development.
The Department of Nutrition at the Harvard School of Public Health recommends eating least 2-3 servings of fresh fruit every day. Eating fruits rich in blue pigment have anti-oxidant properties, remove free radicals from the body and offer many health benefits, including protection against cancers, aging and infections. These blue fruits include purple grapes, acai berry, blueberries and blackberries.
So who thinks fruit is unhealthy? People who follow a low carb diet tend to shy away from fruit or limit their fruit intake. Fruit tends to be fairly rich in carbohydrates, primarily the simple sugars- glucose and fructose. Consuming a lot of fructose may be unhealthy for people who are inactive and eat a high-carb diet. However, those who are healthy, lean and active can afford to eat some fructose. Instead of being turned into fat, the fructose will go towards replenishing glycogen stores in the liver.
The bottom line is that fruits are healthy, unprocessed foods with fiber, vitamins and minerals. However, fruit juice is a totally different story. There is no fiber in fruit juice and it usually contains the same amount of sugar as soda. Avoid it!
For a little variety, try these sweet, delectable recipes.
Pan Seared Banana with Maple Syrup
1 teaspoon maple syrup
cinnamon to taste
canola or any type of oil for pan
Peel banana and cut lengthwise into two pieces. Heat frying pan on medium heat and add canola oil. Drizzle maple syrup on cut side of bananas and sprinkle cinnamon to taste. When oil is hot, place bananas cut side down. Turn the bananas once every 2-3 minutes until each side starts to brown. Enjoy warm with fat-free whipped cream, vanilla ice cream or fresh berries.
1 peach, cut into 8 pieces
2+ tablespoons of maple syrup
cinnamon to taste
Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees. Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil. Place peaches in a ziploc bag add maple syrup and sprinkle cinnamon. Mix well. Place peaches on aluminum lined baking sheet and bake for 30 minutes or until peaches are tender. Enjoy!
Experiment with fruit in your cooking. I found a recipe for pork chops with sautéed apples that looks delicious. Mix things up, don’t think outside the box, think like there is no box.