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Publication #FCS8914

Healthy Fruit Choices for MyPlate1

Claudia Peñuela2

The fruit group includes all fresh, frozen, canned, and dried fruits. Fruits may be eaten whole, cut-up, or pureéd, and also as juices. The MyPlate message is "Focus on Fruits." Just like vegetables, fruits are sources of fiber, vitamin C, vitamin A, and folate, as well as minerals such as potassium. Fruits are naturally low in calories and fat, and are free of cholesterol. Fruits offer a variety of tastes and textures, and you can add fruits to many foods such as salads, desserts, breads, and yogurt.

Recommended Fruit Intakes

MyPlate recommends eating between 1 and 2½ cups of fruits every day depending on age, sex, and level of physical activity.

Go to http://myplate.gov to create your personal plan.

Table 1 shows the recommended cups of fruits per day for a person who gets less than 30 minutes per day of moderate physical activity. Those who are more physically active are able to consume more while staying within calorie needs.

Table 1. 
 

Age (Years)

Cup(s)

Children

2–3

1

 

4–8

1–1½

Girl

9–13

 

14–18

Boy

9–13

 

14–18

2

Women

19–30

2

31–50

 

51+

Men

19–30

2

 

31–50

2

 

51+

2

What does "one cup" from the Fruit Group mean?

1 cup of chopped or whole fruit

1 cup (8 ounces) of 100% fruit juice
½ cup of dried fruit

One cup from the Fruit Group is:

  • 1 small apple

  • 1 medium grapefruit

  • 1 medium pear

  • 1 large banana

  • 1 large orange

  • 1 large peach

  • 2 large plums

  • 8 large strawberries

  • 32 seedless grapes

Why should you consider choosing fruit instead of juice?

100% fruit juice can be a healthy part of a diet. It's always better to choose more whole fruits than juice because whole fruits contain more fiber. If you need 2 cups of fruit per day, drink one cup of fruit juice and select whole fruit for your second cup. If you choose to drink fruit juice, select orange or prune because they are rich in potassium.

"Fruit punch," "fruit aid," and "fruit drinks" contain no juice, or a small amount. They are high in sugar and water, and lack other nutrients. Read the food label to determine the percentage of juice in the drink. Sports drinks or energy drinks are not considered juices because they have only fruit flavoring. Drink these types of beverages in moderation.

If a child drinks a great deal of juice, he may fill up and be less hungry for solid food. Adults who consume juice instead of whole fruits may have a higher calorie intake and lose the benefits of fiber. Vitamin C is a water-soluble vitamin, so any extra vitamin C consumed is not stored in the body for future use, but is instead lost through urination.

Nutrients and Key Points about Their Benefits

  • Fiber reduces the risk of heart disease and promotes regular bowel movement. Some examples are grapefruit, tangerine, and orange.

  • Vitamin C helps to heal cuts and wounds and maintain healthy teeth and gums. Some examples are guava, kiwi fruit, citrus fruits, strawberries, papaya, cantaloupe, pineapple, and mango.

  • Folate produces red blood cells and reduces the risk of neural tube defects in newborns. Some examples include grapefruit, orange, papaya, cantaloupe, strawberries, and other berries.

  • Potassium helps to maintain a healthy blood pressure and is needed for muscle and nerve functions. Some examples of potassium-rich fruits are prune juice, prunes, dried peaches or apricots, bananas, cantaloupe, honeydew melons, orange juice, raisins, figs, and berries.

Tips for Buying Fruits

  • Buy fresh fruit in season when they have peak flavor and are available at a good price.

  • If you decide to buy juices, purchase only 100% fruit juice. Read the label to determine the percentage of juice.

  • Choose canned fruit packed in water, 100% juice or light syrup. They are usually lower in cost and easy to store.

  • Buy dried fruit. They are easy to carry and store. Dried fruit include apricots, apples, bananas, blueberries, cranberries, cherries, figs, pineapples, prunes, and raisins.

  • Choose frozen fruit without added sugars and sauces.

  • When you are shopping, pick your frozen fruits last to make sure they stay frozen on your trip home. Choose frozen fruit that is hard and not in ice. Ice being in the package may mean that the fruit has thawed and refrozen.

Tips for Eating More Fruits

  • Eat fruits for snacks. Try cut-up fruit, dried fruits, peanut butter on apples slices or low-fat yogurt with berries.

  • Have fruits for dessert! Try baked apples or pears, or tropical fruit salad.

  • Include fruit in meat dishes, such as chicken with oranges, apricots, or mangoes.

  • Be creative, and add fruit to breakfast, lunch, and dinner menus.

  • Set fruits in handy places in the refrigerator, or on the counter or table to encourage their consumption.

  • Use ripe fruit in smoothies.

  • For children, offer a variety of fruit to decorate their plates. Also, let children pick out a new fruit and let them help you clean, peel, or cut the fruit.

References

United States Department of Agriculture, MyPlate.gov. MyPlate Basics [Online]. http://www.myplate.gov/

United States Department of Agriculture, Center for Nutrition Policy and promotion. Dietary Guidelines for Americans [Online]. http://www.cnpp.usda.gov/dietaryguidelines.htm

Center for Disease Control and prevention. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. National Cancer Institute. USA.gov's Fruits and Veggies Matter [Online]. http://www.fruitsandveggiesmatter.gov/

Footnotes

1.

This document is FCS8914, one of a series of the Family Youth and Community Sciences Department, Florida Cooperative Extension Service, Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences, University of Florida. Original publication date August 5, 2010. Reviewed with minor revisions August 2011. Visit the EDIS website at http://edis.ifas.ufl.edu.

2.

Claudia Peñuela, EFNEP assistant in nutrition; Department of Family, Youth and Community Sciences; Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences; University of Florida; Gainesville, FL 32611.


The Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences (IFAS) is an Equal Opportunity Institution authorized to provide research, educational information and other services only to individuals and institutions that function with non-discrimination with respect to race, creed, color, religion, age, disability, sex, sexual orientation, marital status, national origin, political opinions or affiliations. For more information on obtaining other UF/IFAS Extension publications, contact your county's UF/IFAS Extension office.

U.S. Department of Agriculture, UF/IFAS Extension Service, University of Florida, IFAS, Florida A & M University Cooperative Extension Program, and Boards of County Commissioners Cooperating. Nick T. Place, dean for UF/IFAS Extension.