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Published: April, 2013; Vol 9, Num 11

 

Tasty Fighter of Disease: Fruit

"If you've got a sweet tooth," says LHSFNA Management Co-Chairman Noel C. Borck, "fruit is a guilt-free way to satisfy it. And, as part of your daily diet, fruit can add years to your life."

LHSFNA Management
Co-Chairman
Noel C. Borck

Diets low in fruit are associated with more diseases today than either obesity or physical inactivity. The Global Burden of Disease Study (GBDS), a collaboration of more than 300 medical research institutions, finds that heart disease and stroke are the top causes of death. High blood pressure often contributes to these conditions, and diets rich in fruit – vegetables are also important – help protect against it.

What's So Good about Fruit?

  • Most fruits are low in fat, sodium, calories and have no cholesterol.
  • Fruits contain potassium, dietary fiber, vitamin C and folate (folic acid).
  • Diets rich in potassium may help to maintain healthy blood pressure.
  • Dietary fiber helps reduce cholesterol, may lower heart disease risk and can help with weight loss. Fiber helps reduce constipation and diverticulosis. Fiber-containing fruits – juices contain little or no fiber – provide feelings of fullness with fewer calories. You eat less.
  • Vitamin C is important for growth, helps heal cuts and wounds and helps keep teeth and gums healthy.
  • Folic acid helps the body form red blood cells. In pregnancy, it reduces risk of birth defects.

For the Best Nutritional Value:

  • Eat more whole or cut-up fruit rather than drinking juice.
  • When choosing canned fruits, select fruit canned in 100 percent juice or water.

Be Creative:

  • Use fat-free or low-fat yogurt as a dip for strawberries or melons.
  • Add fresh fruit to cereal, pancakes, salads and kabobs.
  • Make a smoothie with fat-free or low-fat milk/yogurt and fresh/frozen bananas, peaches and berries.
  • In baking, use unsweetened applesauce as a lower calorie substitute for some of the oil in the recipe.

Be Safe:

  • Rinse fruits before eating them.
  • Separate fruits from raw meat, poultry and seafood while shopping, preparing, storing.
  • Watch out for grapefruit! Grapefruit and other citrus fruits and juices can interact – sometimes fatally – with a number of cholesterol, blood pressure and cancer drugs and some antibiotics. If you take prescription medications, check with your health care provider or your pharmacist before consuming any citrus fruits, juices and food products that contain citrus fruit.

"If you swap out a serving or two of pastry or ice cream each week for some fruit," says Borck, "you're likely to see and feel the difference, and your long-term health will be enhanced."

The U.S. Department of Agriculture's ChooseMyPlate.gov/ website provides guidance for ensuring that your daily diet always includes a healthy serving of fruit. The LHSFNA's Nutrition & Fitness for Laborers training manual and Build a Better Body brochure help Laborers improve their dietary and exercise habits. Order these through the Fund's website by clicking  Publications.

[Janet Lubman Rathner]