Make more fruit part of your new year's resolution

| 29 Sep 2011 | 07:57

    The winter holidays that start with Thanksgiving and end with New Year’s are a whirlwind of family gatherings, neighborhood get togethers and work parties. They’re also the time of year when everyone cooks their best dish for dinner and bakes their favorite desserts for the family. No wonder that when January rolls around, your waistband may feel a bit snug. Since the New Year is traditionally a time for a fresh new start, why not make a healthier lifestyle part of your list of resolutions? Whether your goal is to lose weight or simply eat more healthfully, a great way to start is by incorporating more fresh fruits into your diet. The USDA Dietary Guidelines recommend that Americans eat two to five servings of fruits a day. Studies also show that healthful diets that include these natural treats are linked to such health benefits as a lowered risk for certain cancers, stroke and heart disease. The USDA also recommends that the majority of fruit servings come from whole fruits, rather than fruit juices, and urges consumers to eat a variety of fruits. Whole fruit provides the added bonus of dietary fiber that you don’t get from fruit juices. Eating a variety of whole fruits ensures you’ll get the maximum health benefits. Here are some easy tips for increasing your fruit intake, and your energy level, that can put you on track for a healthy New Year. • Top your yogurt and granola with fresh sliced fruit like bananas or pineapples; it adds flavor and an extra nutritional punch. One medium banana contains 11 percent of your total daily requirements of potassium, and a cup of extra sweet pineapple provides as much vitamin C as one cup of orange juice, with the added benefit of fiber from the whole fruit. • If losing weight is your goal, diets containing fiber-rich foods like bananas and apples can help you get through the afternoon cravings at work. Foods containing fiber tend to produce a feeling of fullness. One medium apple satisfies 20 percent of your daily fiber requirements; a banana satisfies 16 percent of your daily fiber requirement and contains no fat, sodium or cholesterol. • Eating whole fruits can deliver the energy and nutrition you’ll need to make the most out of your workout routine. For a quick pick-me-up before you hit the gym, eat a banana. This nutrient-dense fruit can provide both a quick energy boost and a sustained release of energy over time, helping to provide endurance and concentration. In addition, the potassium in bananas plays an essential part in building and repairing muscles. • Keep fresh cut fruit on hand. You’re more likely to get your fruit in for the day if it is cut, cleaned and ready-to-eat. Many companies now offer pre-packaged varieties of fruit. Available in cantaloupe, pineapple, and watermelon, and grapes, these fresh-cut fruits provide you with the daily nutrition you need in a no-fuss, on-the-go container. • Another convenient way to incorporate fruits into your day is with smaller snack options. Fruit snack packs are an excellent example of a healthy, ready-to-eat snack that provides essential vitamins and minerals such as Vitamin A, iron and magnesium. By focusing on more nutritious eating, adding whole fruits to your diet and getting your body moving, you’ll be on your way to a healthier New Year in no time.