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By choosing to complete this mail lesson, you have taken the first step in learning more about the importance of nutrition and its relationship to good health. During the lesson about MyPyramid you learned about healthy eating using MyPyramid as your guide. You learned how much of these foods you need to eat each day. This lesson will take a closer look at the fruit group.
To complete this lesson:
- Carefully read this lesson. It should take about 20-25 minutes to complete.
- Answer the questions at the end of the lesson.
- When you are finished, place the questions in the prepaid envelope and place the envelope in the mail.
The Fruit Group
The MyPyramid symbol shows six color bands that run from the bottom of the pyramid to the top. There is a color band for each of the five food groups. The sixth band is for oils. The red color band represents the fruit group, which is the food group that this lesson will focus on.
Focus on Fruits! Fruits have important nutrients like vitamin A, vitamin C, potassium, and fiber. Eat a variety of fruits because they are naturally low in calories, fat, and sodium. For good health, adults should try to eat 2 cups of fruit a day.
- The fruit group includes all fresh, frozen, canned and dried fruits and 100% fruit juice.
- Fruits have important nutrients like vitamin A, vitamin C, potassium and fiber.
- Eat a variety of fruits because most are naturally low in fat, sodium, and calories
- Limit fruit juice to less than half of total fruit intake, the average adult should limit juice to 1 cup per day. Read the label to make sure it says “100% Juice.”
- Eating fruit as part of a healthy diet may reduce the risk of some diseases such as heart disease, cancer and type 2 diabetes.
How much do you need to eat?
The exact amount of fruits and vegetables that you need to eat depends on your age, gender, and how much physical activity you get each day.
A typical adult should try to eat 2 cups of fruit every day.
What counts as a ½ cup of fruit?
- ½ cup chopped fruit
- ½ cup canned fruit, drained
- ½ small apple
- ½ cup applesauce
- ½ large banana or orange
- About 15 grapes
- ½ of a medium grapefruit
- ½ cup 100% fruit juice
- ¼ cup dried fruit (raisins, prunes, apricots, cranberries, etc)
Do you remember why eating fruits are important?
- Fruits and vegetables are important sources of many nutrients including vitamin A, vitamin C, potassium, and fiber.
- Fruits and vegetables, as part of an overall healthy diet, may help reduce the risk of heart disease and other chronic diseases, such as cancer and type 2 diabetes.
- Prevents night blindness
- Fights infection
- May reduce the risk of certain cancers and heart disease
Good sources of vitamin A: cantaloupe, mango, papaya, apricots, peaches, and nectarines.
- Heals cuts and keeps skin healthy
- Fights infections and colds
- Helps the body absorb iron from food
Because vitamin C is not stored in the body, you need to eat foods rich in vitamin C every day.
Good sources of vitamin C: oranges, grapefruit, lemons, limes, strawberries, cantaloupe, and melons.
- May lower blood pressure
- May reduce the risk of kidney stones
Good sources of potassium:
Bananas, dried peaches, dried apricots, cantaloupe, and orange juice.
Fiber helps us to …
- Regulate bowel movements
- Feel full
- Lower blood sugar and cholesterol
- May reduce the risk of getting certain types of cancer
Choose a diet of 20-30 grams of dietary fiber every day. Many fruits are loaded with dietary fiber, so by eating 2 cups of fruit every day, you will be well on your way to getting your 20-30 grams of dietary fiber.
- Strawberries (1 cup) = 3 grams dietary fiber
- Banana (1 medium) = 3 grams dietary fiber
- Orange (1 medium) = 3 grams dietary fiber
- Pear (1 small) = 4 grams dietary fiber
- Raspberries ( ½ cup) = 4 grams dietary fiber
Tips to add fiber to your diet
- Eat berries.
- Eat the skins on fruits and vegetables when possible, such as apples.
- Snack on dried fruit.
- Choose whole fruits and vegetables instead of drinking 100% juice.
Eat Healthy Foods and Save Money Too!
- Tips to help you and your family eat more fruits:
- Keep a bowl of fresh fruit in the refrigerator at eye level.
- Buy fresh fruit that is in season. They usually cost less and taste better.
- Purchase juices labeled 100% juice. Beverages labeled “juice blends”, “fruit punches”, “fruit drinks” and “juice cocktails” are mostly water and sugar. Remember, eating fruit is better than drinking 100% juice because you get more fiber and less calories!
- At breakfast, top your cereal with bananas or peaches; add blueberries to pancakes. Or, try a fruit mixed with low-fat or fat-free yogurt.
- At lunch, pack a tangerine, banana, or grapes to eat, or choose fruits from a salad bar.
- At dinner, add crushed pineapple to coleslaw, or include mandarin oranges or grapes in a tossed salad.
- Add fruit like pineapple or peaches to kabobs as part of a barbecue meal.
- For dessert, have baked apples, pears, or a fruit salad.
- Cut-up fruit makes a great snack! Or, try whole fresh berries or grapes.
- Dried fruits also make a great snack. They are easy to carry and store. Keep a package of dried fruit in your desk or bag. Some fruits that are available dried include apricots, apples, pineapple, bananas, cherries, figs, dates, cranberries, blueberries, prunes (dried plums), and raisins (dried grapes).
- As a snack, spread peanut butter on apple slices or top frozen yogurt with berries.
- Frozen juice bars (100% juice) make healthy alternatives to high-fat snacks.
Make fruit more appealing:
- Many fruits taste great with a dip or dressing. Try low-fat yogurt or pudding as a dip for fruits like strawberries or melons.
- Make a fruit smoothie by blending fat-free or low-fat milk or yogurt with fresh or frozen fruit. Try bananas, peaches, strawberries, or other berries.
- Try applesauce as a fat-free substitute for some of the oil when baking cakes, cookies and brownies.
- For fresh fruit salads, mix apples, bananas, or pears with acidic fruits like oranges, pineapple, or lemon juice to keep them from turning brown.
Fruit tips for children:
- Set a good example for children by eating fruit everyday with meals or as snacks.
- Offer children a choice of fruits for lunch.
- Depending on their age, children can help shop for, clean, peel, or cut up fruits.
- While shopping, allow children to pick out a new fruit to try later at home.
- Top off a bowl of cereal with some berries. Or, make a smiley face with sliced bananas for eyes, raisins for a nose, and an orange slice for a mouth.
- Offer raisins or other dried fruits instead of candy.
- Make fruit kabobs using pineapple chunks, bananas, grapes, and berries.
- Pack a juice box (100% juice) in children’s lunches versus soda or other sugar-sweetened beverages.
- Choose fruit options, such as sliced apples, mixed fruit cup, or 100% fruit juice that are available in some fast food restaurants.
Keep it safe!
- Wash fruits and vegetables before preparing or eating them. Under clean, running water rub fruits or vegetables briskly with your hands to remove dirt and surface germs. Dry after washing with a clean dish towel or paper towel.
- Keep fruits and vegetables separate from raw meat, poultry, and seafood while shopping, preparing, and storing.