On the Table

Boost your health with fresh fruit

CorrespondentJuly 8, 2014 

If you want to lose a few pounds, take advantage of summer fruit. It’s an easy tactic that is enjoyable to try.

It makes sense for several reasons. For starters, when it’s hot outside, you feel more like eating light, refreshing meals. Fruit, with its high water content, is hydrating and easy to digest.

Watermelon, cantaloupe, honeydew melon and berries of all types are about 90 percent water. And all of that fluid is tied up with dietary fiber.

So fresh summer fruits are filling but low in calories.

They’re also highly nutritious. Blueberries, strawberries, watermelon, cantaloupe and peaches, for example, are rich in vitamins, minerals and health-supporting phytochemicals.

Eat fresh fruit as often as you can. If you are diabetic, check with your dietitian or health care provider about any special considerations you may have for carbohydrate distribution in your diet.

But for most healthy people, make fresh fruit a daily habit. Here are some tips:

• Keep fresh fruit in the house. Since most summer fruits don’t keep for more than a few days, buy only what you can eat in a reasonable amount of time and shop more often.

If you wash and slice fruits and keep them in the refrigerator ready to eat, you’ll also make it more convenient to reach for fruit when you want a snack.

• Look for ways to add fruit to your plate. A thin slice of watermelon or a couple of strawberries make nice garnishes.

Add fresh berries to a green salad or serve a scoop of fruit salad on top of a bed of salad greens. Crushed pineapple is good mixed into coleslaw.

• Fruit salad is delicious mixed with sprigs of mint from the garden. Serve it with yogurt and granola for breakfast or as a dessert or snack.

• Make a meal out of fruit. Slice a cantaloupe in half, scoop out the seeds and fill the center with low-fat cottage cheese or a half-cup of blueberries and a dollop of Greek yogurt. You can do the same with a papaya or pineapple.

To get the most benefit from fresh summer fruits, eat them whole instead of juiced to get the fiber.

Make the most of this summer’s fruits!

Suzanne Havala Hobbs is a registered dietitian and clinical associate professor of health policy and management at UNC-Chapel Hill. Reach her at suzanne@onthetable.net; follow her on Twitter, @suzannehobbs.

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