With summer upon us, there are now an abundant amount of summer fruits available.  Peaches, nectarines, plums, apricots and watermelons are only some of the tasty fruits unique to the summer season.

Fruits play a very important role as an integral and healthy aspect to our overall diet.   We know that people who eat an abundance of fruits and vegetables substantially reduce their risk of many diseases.  Fruits provide nutrients vital for health and maintenance of your body. Now that it is summertime, the great selection of fruits in season seems almost never ending.  Taking advantage of that can mean better health and feeling a lot more energetic too. 

The nutrition in fruit

The United States government sponsored site My Plate does an excellent job in describing all of the nutritional benefits of eating fruit:

  • Most fruits are naturally low in fat, sodium, and calories. None have cholesterol.
  • Fruits are sources of many essential nutrients that are generally under consumed, including potassium, dietary fiber, vitamin C, and folate (folic acid).
  • Diets rich in potassium may help to maintain healthy blood pressure. Fruit sources of potassium include bananas, prunes and prune juice, dried peaches and apricots, cantaloupe, honeydew melon, and orange juice.
  • Dietary fiber from fruits, as part of an overall healthy diet, helps reduce blood cholesterol levels and may lower risk of heart disease. Fiber is important for proper bowel function. It helps reduce constipation and diverticulosis. Fiber-containing foods such as fruits help provide a feeling of fullness with fewer calories. Whole or cut-up fruits are sources of dietary fiber; fruit juices contain little or no fiber.
  • Vitamin C is important for growth and repair of all body tissues. It helps heal cuts and wounds, and keeps teeth and gums healthy.
  • Folate (folic acid) helps the body form red blood cells. Pregnant women should consume adequate folate from foods, and in addition 400 mcg of synthetic folic acid from fortified foods or supplements. This reduces the risk of neural tube defects, spina bifida, and anencephaly during fetal development.

Health benefits from fruit

It is easy to see that you can all get of these important nutrients from tasty choices.  My Plate also tells us some of the great health benefits of eating fruits on a daily basis;

  • Eating a diet rich in vegetables and fruits as part of an overall healthy diet may reduce risk for heart disease, including heart attack and stroke.
  • Eating a diet rich in some vegetables and fruits as part of an overall healthy diet may protect against certain types of cancers.
  • Diets rich in foods containing fiber, such as some vegetables and fruits, may reduce the risk of heart disease, obesity, and type 2 diabetes.
  • Eating vegetables and fruits rich in potassium as part of an overall healthy diet may lower blood pressure, and may also reduce the risk of developing kidney stones and help to decrease bone loss.
  • Eating fruits instead of some other higher-calorie food may be useful in helping to lower calorie intake.

Preventing heart disease and type 2 diabetes

The vitamins, minerals and antioxidants in fruit may help keep your heart healthy so you can reduce your risk of problems as you get older. Walter Willett reports in his book "Eat, Drink and Be Healthy: The Harvard Medical School Guide to Eating Healthy" that individuals who eat five servings of fruits or vegetables are 15 percent less likely to have a heart attack.  Fruit may also promote the healthy circulation of your blood, which also reduces your risk of heart disease. Willett adds that citrus fruits, such as oranges and grapefruit, may be particularly beneficial at reducing your risk of heart disease.  It can also cut your risk of contracting type 2 diabetes.  Type 2 diabetes affects many people and is characterized by an inability to use insulin the proper way with insulin resistance or not being able to produce enough insulin. Type 2 diabetes can be life-threatening if not diagnosed and treated.  A 2016 review article published in Journal of Diabetes Investigation found that fruit, especially berries, was linked to a decreased risk of developing type 2 diabetes. Fruit contains fiber, which can improve how your body uses insulin. It can also make you feel full, which can keep you from eating unhealthy foods and may result in weight loss.   Fruit contains many different nutrients that your body needs to maintain your health and eating several servings a day may cut your risk by providing you with the vitamins and minerals you need.

Selection and Storage of fruits

  • Choose in-season fruits. The closer you are to the growing source, the fresher your produce and the better it tastes.
  • Select fruits that feel heavy for their size. Heaviness is a good sign of juiciness.
  • Smell fruits for characteristic aromas. Fruits should generally have their characteristic ripe scent but not smell overly ripe. For example, melons both orange and green, shouldn't smell too musty, especially if you don't plan to eat it right away.
  • Test texture. An apple that feels mushy to the touch probably is too ripe. However, an avocado with a somewhat spongy texture is ideal.
  • Buy dried fruits processed without added sugar. Dried fruits are a concentrated source of dietary fiber but are also higher in calories than are fresh fruits. Use dried fruits sparingly and buy ones that don't contain added sugar.
  • Read labels on packaged fruits. Look for frozen fruits processed without added sugar. Choose fruit canned in water or fruit juice. Avoid fruits preserved in sugar-sweetened syrup, which is a source of calories without nutrients.
  • Keep fruits in your refrigerator after you wash and prepare them for eating. Refrigerate sliced fruits or sections of fruit. Don't store melons in the refrigerator until they are cut up.
  • Throw away produce you have kept too long. Discard fruit that is moldy or slimy, smells bad, or is past the "best if used by" date.

Personally, I love watermelon.  I look forward to the watermelon season and I use it for dessert most of the time for my Shabbat day meal.  This past Shabbat, as I cut open the watermelon, I saw by the color we had a winner and we all agreed it was the best one so far this season.  Not only does it taste good, but watermelons are mostly water — about 92 percent — and full of nutrients. Each juicy bite has significant levels of vitamins A, B6 and C, lots of lycopene, antioxidants and amino acids. There's even a modest amount of potassium. Plus, this tasty summer snack is fat-free, very low in sodium and has only 40 calories per cup.

Joel, myself and everyone else enjoyed the watermelon and all of us are careful to eat fruits daily.  BUT BE CAREFUL!  Fruits are high in natural sugar so try to keep it to about 4 per day and spread them out throughout the day and not in one sitting.  Including fruits as part of a good healthy and balanced diet will “add hours to your day, days to your year and years to your life.” 

Alan Freishtat is an A.C.E. CERTIFIED PERSONAL TRAINER and a CERTIFIED WELLNESS COACH with over 19 years of professional experience. Alan is the creator and director of the “10 Weeks to Health” program for weight loss.  He is available for private coaching sessions, consultations, assessments and personalized workout programs. Alan also lectures and gives seminars and workshops. He can be reached at 02-651-8502 or 050-555-7175, or by email at alan@alanfitness.com   Check out the his web site – www.alanfitness.com    US Line: 516-568-5027