The Nutrition Nook is a monthly column featuring nutrition information for healthy eating. This month we’ll hear from Zahra, who writes The Natural Journey For Life blog. * Remember to consult your primary care physician or dietitian before beginning a new nutrition regimen.*
Greetings! My name is Zahra and I am on a life journey to obtain optimal health for my mind, body and spirit. By education I am a food scientist and chemical engineer. However, my life purpose is to help others find natural alternatives to everyday needs. That is where my passion lies. I believe that food is medicine and it can either heal or harm us. We truly are what we eat! The catalyst for this journey is my son Caleb who has been challenged by food allergies, eczema, and digestive woes. His short life has taught me more about alternatives and making better choices than I could have ever imagined. Please, join us on this journey…let’s travel together! Peace and Blessings.
Fruit is essential to living a healthy life. There are countless varieties…some are common… like the apple or banana and others are not so common like the rambutan. Fruit is one of the most appetizing and healthful foods you can eat. With the number of varieties that exist (just think about apple varieties) the possibility of stimulating your taste buds are endless!
What is fruit exactly? It’s the edible part of a plant that develops from a flower.
The food guide pyramid provided by the USDA recommends 2-4 servings of fruit a day. That would equate to 4 apples or 2 bananas and 2 apples, or any other combination you can think of. The National Cancer Institute recommends at least 5 servings a day. Unfortunately the SAD (Standard American Diet) is full of alternatives to fruit. Instead of eating sweet, juicy, delectable fruit we oftentimes choose cookies, cake and donuts. I have been guilty of feeding my sweet cravings with junk food (ice cream, candy bars and the like). Subsequently, I saw my body change for the worse. I experienced bloating, weight gain, terrible PMS symptoms and sluggish digestion. Once I eliminated the junk, all of the aforementioned issues disappeared. Now, I’m a firm believer in moderation being the key to maintaining a healthy life, but some things we just should not eat. Especially when there are great alternatives right at our fingertips.
So why is fruit so good for us? And how will it keep the doctor away? Glad you asked!
- Fruit is the primary dietary source of natural vitamin C. This vitamin is essential for health. A vitamin C deficiency can induce scurvy (anemia, bloody gums, and weakness).
- Fruit is void of bad fats and oils
- Fruit contains a host of vitamins and minerals (potassium, magnesium, calcium and iron to name a few).
- Fruit contains phytochemicals, which are substances that perform preventative and healing functions
- Most fruits contain 80% – 93% water (think watermelon). Pure living water filled with nutrients.
- Fruit is a great source of FIBER!
- Fruit does not generate toxic residuals while being digested. Instead fruit facilitates detoxification and elimination of wastes.
- Fruit can act as a mild laxative which facilitates gentle evacuation (think bananas).
- Antioxidants are found in abundance in fruit (think blackberries and grapes) and along with phytochemicals, help prevent cancer.
Try to avoid heavily processed fruit (like canned and jellied). Remember, once something is processed or even heated on the stove, nutrients are degraded (especially vitamins that are extremely heat sensitive). Stay away from fruit juice that has been pasteurized. There are very few nutrients left. Dried fruit will provide fiber and minerals, but will have very little water. If you do buy packaged fruit, read labels and stay away from additives. FRESH is always better!
How can you incorporate more fruit in your diet?
- Just eat more fruit. When you have a craving for something sweet, grab a piece of fruit instead. If you already eat 3 servings of FRESH fruit a day…increase it to 4 servings.
- Make a fruit salad
- Eat fruit for dinner
- Make FRESH fruit smoothies and juices
- Prepare snacks in advance so you are ready to fight the craving