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Nutrition

Why You Should Include More Fruit In Your Plant-Based Diet By Whitney English MS, RDN, CPT

Posted on July 13, 2018

Fruit is called nature’s candy for a reason — it’s delicious! But unlike candy people make that’s packed with processed sugar (and little else), fruit comes packaged with a bunch of beneficial components aside from its natural sweetness.

 

A major benefit of fruit is its fiber content. Fiber has been shown to aid in digestion and reduce the risk of chronic diseases like cancer, diabetes and heart disease. Fiber is broken down in our gut by our microbiome, which produces compounds that feed our colonic cells and help fight disease. This is one good reason to enjoy fruit in its whole form. When you drink just the juice of a fruit, you lose all that nutritious fiber. Apples, for instance, are an incredibly fibrous fruit, packing about 4.4 grams of fiber each.

 

Another amazing component of fruit is its phytochemical content. Phytochemicals are compounds found in plants that possess health-promoting properties. They give fruit its vibrant color, like the red in a juicy tomato or the deep purple of a ripe blackberry. The bluish purple phytochemicals known as anthocyanins, for example, which are found in blueberries and raspberries, have been shown to help improve cardiovascular function and may reduce the risk of heart disease. Carotenoids, which are found in orange, yellow and red colored fruit like papayas and watermelon, may help reduce the risk of lung and prostate cancer and help support eye health.

 

Despite what some popular diets suggest, there’s no such thing as eating too much fruit or the “wrong kind” of fruit, as long as you’re consuming it as a part of a balanced diet. Note the “banana diet,” where you eat 10+ bananas in one sitting. That’s not a balanced diet! Research shows that whole fruit consumption is beneficial not harmful to your health.

 

To reap the health benefits of fruit, you’ll want to consume about 2-3 servings per day. A small apple or orange, ½ of a banana or 1 cup of berries counts as a serving. If you’re making a smoothie or açaí bowl, ½ to 1½  cups is an average amount of fruit to include. Make sure to balance out your beverage or bowl with other important nutrients like protein and fat. I like to use organic soy milk and ground flax seeds for protein in my smoothies and avocado or peanut butter for a source of fat.

 

One of my favorite smoothies is a PBJ Smoothie. To make it, simply combine all of the following ingredients in a high-powered blender:

 

1 small banana, frozen

½ cup frozen berries of choice

1 tablespoon peanut butter

1 cup organic unsweetened soy milk

½ cup Daiya Strawberry Greek Yogurt Alternative

1 tablespoon chia seeds

 

For more tasty smoothie recipes, visit my website, Whitney E. RD!

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