Fruits, along with vegetables, constitute an integral part of the Food Pyramid, which recommends everyone to have at least 2-3 servings of fruits a day. Fruits are rich in vitamins, minerals, and fibre; and are naturally, low in sodium and fat. Low calorie fruits, as defined by the FDA, comprises of those fruits which provide 40 calories or less per serving. Following is the list of low calorie fruits which we can incorporate freely in our diet:
- Apple (green)
- Black berries
- Green grapes
- Guava (pink & white)
- Karonda fruit
- Star fruit
- Tomato, (yes! Scientifically it’s a fruit)
These above mentioned fruits are not just low calorie fruits, but are rich in vitamin C, potassium and fibre as well. These nutrients are vital for health and maintenance of our body, reducing the risk of chronic diseases. Potassium, for instance, is a heart-friendly nutrient, helping to keep blood pressure under control, reducing the risk of heart attack or stroke. Vitamin C, on the other hand, strengthens our immunity, maintains healthy skin, bones and cartilage. Fibre, not being a nutrient in itself, is very important constituent of our diet. It helps in maintaining a healthy bowel system and body weight, controlling blood cholesterol, blood sugar levels, along with other benefits.
Apart from the regular vitamins and minerals that we keep hearing from everyone, these low calorie fruits are also rich in phytochemicals, a class of naturally occurring chemicals produced by plants. It’s found that, when we consume these chemicals in the food that we eat, they influence the various chemicals processes in our body in many helpful ways. Some of the important roles of these phytochemicals, also termed as antioxidants, are:
- To stimulate the immune system
- To boost heart health, eye health, skin health
- To help regulate hormones
- To reduce/prevent inflammations that can initiate &/or propagate cancer
- To reduce the toxin levels in the body
Dieticians and health professionals would always recommend to eat more fruits, but we being more inclined towards fancy foods, find it difficult to eat even the minimum required quantity at times. Since it’s not a matter of few days, but that of a lifetime, we need to find new, innovative ways to eat fruits, without getting bored of them. Following are the various ways in which these fruits can be incorporated in our regular diet:
- At breakfast, add fruits to your yoghurt, cereals, milk. Make fresh milk shakes, smoothies as well, to kickstart your day!
- Challenge yourself to try fruits of different colours, on different days of the week.
- Add them to the food you love. Like, you can mix frozen berries into your pancakes, add watermelon cubes to your summer chillers, so on and so forth.
- Add them to various sprouts or vegetable salads, baked dishes
- Fresh fruit pulps or syrups can be used in various dressings.
- You can try fruit pops, freeze 100% fruit juice or freshly cut fruits in flavoured water overnight, and there you go with healthy desserts to beat the heat!
Having said about the various health benefits of fruits, it’s important to choose them well. Choose fresh fruits, fruit juice and frozen and canned fruits that are not laden with heavy syrups (read labels carefully).
Last but not the least, I would advise you to go for seasonal and local fruits rather than imported ones as seasonal fruits would be easily available, at low costs and there would be least possibility of added pesticides. In addition, a seasonal fruit would always be at its peak in nutritional value, appearance and flavor.