Fruits and vegetables are part of a well balanced and healthy eating plan.

Helping control your weight is not the only benefit of eating more fruits and vegetables. Diets rich in fruits and vegetables may reduce the risk of some types of cancer and other chronic diseases. Fruits and vegetables also provide essential vitamins and minerals, fiber and other substances that are important for good health.

To lose weight, you must eat fewer calories than your body uses. This doesn’t necessarily mean that you have to eat less food. You can create lower calorie versions of some of your favorite dishes by substituting low calorie fruits and vegetables in place of higher calorie ingredients.

The water and fiber in fruits and vegetables will add volume to your dishes so you can eat the same amount of food with fewer calories. Most fruits and vegetables are naturally low in fat and calories and are filling.

Nutrient Information

You can also find out which fruits and vegetables are good and excellent sources of these nutrients. Follow the simple ways to cut calories and eat fruits and vegetables throughout your day.

Breakfast: Start the day right.

  • Substitute some spinach, onions or mushrooms for one of the eggs or half of the cheese in your morning omelet. The vegetables will add volume and flavor to the dish with fewer calories than the eggs or cheese.
  • Cut back on the amount of cereal in your bowl to make room for some cut up bananas, peaches or strawberries. You can still eat a full bowl but with fewer calories.

Lighten up your lunch.

  • Substitute vegetables such as lettuce, tomatoes, cucumbers or onions for 2 ounces of the cheese and 2 ounces of the meat in your sandwich, wrap or burrito. The new version will fill you up with fewer calories than the original.
  • Add a cup of chopped vegetables, such as broccoli, carrots, beans or red peppers, in place of 2 ounces of the meat or 1 cup of noodles in your favorite broth based soup. The vegetables will help fill you up, so you won’t miss those extra calories.

Dinner

  • Add 1 cup of chopped vegetables such as broccoli, tomatoes, squash, onions or peppers, while removing 1 cup of the rice or pasta in your favorite dish. The dish with the vegetables will be just as satisfying but have fewer calories than the same amount of the original version.
  • Take a good look at your dinner plate. Vegetables, fruit and whole grains should take up the largest portion of your plate. If they do not, replace some of the meat, cheese, white pasta or rice with legumes, steamed broccoli, asparagus, greens or another favorite vegetable. This will reduce the total calories in your meal without reducing the amount of food you eat. But remember to use a normal or small-size plate — not a platter. The total number of calories that you eat counts, even if a good proportion of them come from fruits and vegetables.

Smart snacks

Most healthy eating plans allow for one or two small snacks a day. Choosing mostly fruits and vegetables will allow you to eat a snack with only 100 calories, such as:

  • a medium-size apple (72 calories)
  • a medium-size banana (105 calories)
  • 1 cup steamed green beans (44 calories)
  • 1 cup blueberries (83 calories)

All fruits are healthy for us, but the best ones are those with the most fiber. A good rule of thumb is to stick with the “S or S” fruits, the ones with edible skins or seeds, such as apples, peaches, pears, blueberries, strawberries, blackberries, and grapes. Eating the skin and seeds amps up your fiber intake, and the skin and the seeds contain most of the antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals. That’s why it’s much better to eat whole fruit, rather than relying on juices.

Instead of a high-calorie snack from a vending machine, bring some cut-up vegetables or fruit from home. One snack-sized bag of corn chips (1 ounce) has the same number of calories as a small apple, 1 cup of whole strawberries AND 1 cup of carrots with 1/4 cup of low-calorie dip. Substitute one or two of these options for the chips and you will have a satisfying snack with fewer calories.

Focus on Fruit

Fruits For maximum nutrient richness and great taste in fruit, pick a variety of colorful fruits when choosing them.

  • Fill your cart with brightly colored fruits such as blueberries, strawberries, oranges, apricots, kiwifruit, cantaloupe, watermelon and red, green and purple grapes.
  • Choose fresh fruits in season when they’re less expensive and most flavorful. Ask produce department staff which fruits are in season now.
  • Stock up on canned and frozen fruits when they are on sale.
  • Avocado is a fruit, too. Top your salad with a few slices or pair it with an exotic fruit such as mango for a refreshing fruit salsa.

Super Fruits

Let’s have a look on some super fruits.

Goji Berries

Also known as the wolfberry, this bright red-orange fruit has been a staple in rural China for at least 2,000 years. Nutritionally, goji is rich in fiber, riboflavin, copper, iron, potassium and zinc. Related to the tomato, potato and eggplant, it is the only berry exceptionally high in beta-carotene, zeaxanthin and lycopene. Available dried in cereals and granola or as an ingredient in juice drinks and tea.

Mangosteen

Unrelated to the mang, mangosteen has a thick purple skin covering an edible white pulp. It grows on a tropical evergreen tree in Asia, Africa and the Pacific tropics. Although the fruit itself has a rather low nutrient density and antioxidant activity, manufacturers extract potent phytonutrients from its skin, thus its superfruit status. Valued for sweetness, it’s added to juices and desserts.

Noni

Native to Southeast Asia but found throughout the tropics, noni is another white fruit, a sign it’s not rich in phytonutrients. However, it boasts a fiar amount of vitamin C as well as numerous minerals, notably potassium. In fact, noni is so rich in potassium, experts caution people with impaired kidney function to avoid noni juice. When nearly ripe, the fruit has a foul odor and pungent taste, earning it the name “cheese fruit” in Polynesian culture.

Luckily, manufacturers have found a way to remove the substance responsible for this unpleasant taste and smell. Some noni is sold as juice online and by multi-level marketing companies, accompanied by unsubstantiated health claims.

Seabuckhorn

Another Chinese fruit, sometimes called seaberry, seabuckhorn is a tart yellow-orange berry that grows on a thorny vine. A highly acidic fruit loaded with vitamins A, C and E, as well as a notable amount of unsaturated fat, this fruit is available usually in juice or tea form. For many Americans, it’s an acquired taste.

Other Fruits of the Future

Newbie superfruits are just waiting in the wings to hit the American market. You may soon see Cupuacau, a Brazilian fruit with a chocolaty taste and two South American fruits rich in vitamin C – Acerola, a sour, bright-red cherry-like fruit and Camu Camu, a reddish-purple berry. Plus, be on the lookout for the irresistibly named Yumberry, a Chinese red berry with an appealing sweet taste.

Exotic super fruits have one downside: They must be imported long distances, so they are not environmentally friendly of foods, much like a banana. Touted with mostly unsubstantiated health claims, it’s best to enjoy these fruits for their novelty, unusual taste and to add variety to your diet. Their array of antioxidants and phytonutrients are a bonus.

Many of these fruits are not likely to show up in supermarket produce displays just yet, but they’re already showing up in the ingredient lists of juices, smoothies, and even fortified waters as well as in cereals, granola bars, ice creams and desserts. .

Many of these fruits boast exceptionally high antioxidant activity and phytonutrient content- higher than most Western fruits, earning them the title of Superfruits by the industry. But, are they truly superior to other fruits?

Clinical trials have yet to show that any of the top exotic superfruits are effective against human disease. However, familiar Western fruits with high antioxidant/phytonutrient contents – like grapes, cranberries, blueberries – do have some data supporting a relationship between their intake and a lower risk of chronic diseases.

Notes on Berries in General

  • Low in sodium, fat and cholesterol free.
  • An excellent source of fiber, potassium and vitamin C.
  • Support heart health, normal blood pressure and weight loss.

Vegetables

Most vegetables are naturally low in calories, fat, and cholesterol, and are filling. They are also important sources of many nutrients, including potassium, fiber, folate (folic acid), vitamin A, vitamin E, and vitamin C. People who eat more vegetables as part of an overall healthy diet are likely to have a lower risk of some chronic diseases such as heart disease and diabetes.

Any vegetable or 100 percent vegetable juice counts as a member of the vegetable group. Vegetables may be raw or cooked; fresh, frozen, canned, or dried/dehydrated; and may be whole, cut up, or mashed. To get the most health benefits, vary the types of vegetables you eat. Eat more dark green and orange vegetables.

Remember: Substitution is the Key

It’s true that fruits and vegetables are lower in calories than many other foods, but they do contain some calories. If you start eating fruits and vegetables in addition to what you usually eat, you are adding calories and may gain weight. The key is substitution. Eat fruits and vegetables instead of some other higher-calorie food.

Fruits and Vegetables Have Fluid

Fruits & Vegetables Did you know that fruits and vegetables have fluid? Some of these nutritional goodies are over 90 percent water so they may help quench thirst. Grapes, pineapple, watermelon, celery, and lettuce are just a few. Not only will they satisfy you when you’re thirsty, but they also count towards your 5-a-day.

Tips for Making Fruits and Vegetables Part of Weight Management

Eat fruits and vegetables the way nature provided — or with fat free or low fat cooking techniques. Try steaming your vegetables, using low-calorie or low fat dressings, and using herbs and spices to add flavor. Some cooking techniques, such as breading and frying or using high-fat dressings or sauces will greatly increase the calories and fat in the dish. Eat your fruit raw to enjoy its natural sweetness.

Canned (see Canned Food Convenience) or frozen fruits and vegetables are good options when fresh produce is not available. However, be careful to choose those without added sugar, syrup, cream sauces or other ingredients that will add calories.

Choose whole fruit over fruit drinks and juices. Fruit juices have lost fiber from the fruit. It is better to eat the whole fruit because it contains the added fiber that helps you feel full. One 6-ounce serving of orange juice has 85 calories, compared to just 65 calories in a medium orange.

Whole fruit gives you a bigger size snack than the same fruit dried — for the same number of calories. A small box of raisins (1/4 cup) is about 100 calories. For the same number of calories, you can eat 1 cup of grapes.

Did You Know?

According to a study from the University College London, you can slash your annual risk of death by eating at least seven fruit and vegetable servings daily.

Fresh Fruit Sorbet Recipe

Place 2-1/2 cups (about one pound) any packaged frozen fruit pieces and 2-tablespoons sugar (or more to taste) into a food processor. Puree fruit by pulsing processor on and off while gradually adding 1/4-cup non-sweetened apple juice for two minutes or just until sorbet becomes well blended, smooth and creamy. Serve immediately or freeze.

Savory Vegetables Recipe

  • 1 cup chicken broth
  • 3 cups cut-up vegetables*

Mix broth and vegetables in saucepan. Heat to a boil. Cover and cook over low heat five minutes or until vegetables are tender-crisp. Drain.

*Use a combination of broccoli flowerets, cauliflower flowerets, sliced carrot and sliced celery.