Three Fruits You Need In Your Life

Fruits: Nature’s Sweet Treat

Fruits and vegetables are high in vitamin C & A, as well as other antioxidants and a variety of minerals.  Including them in your daily routine will be key to providing your body with the ability to defend against infections and disease.

While fruits and vegetables are insanely high in fiber, they are also impressively low in calories. This means you will reach “food baby” status (i.e. you’ll be full) before you eat more calories than your body needs. The fiber combined with the noteworthy vitamins and mineral profile result in side effects that include prevention or reversal of:

  • Type 2 diabetes
  • Cardiovascular disease (heart attack, stroke, hypertension)
  • Gastrointestinal issues (Crohn’s, ulcerative colitis, diverticulitis/losis)
  • Unintentional weight gain

There are several fruits and vegetables that are almost always found in your local grocery store, but sadly do not get as much press as more common options. Below are three examples of flavorful, easy to prepare and eat produce that happen to be jammed-full of health promoting nutrients.

Mango

Need To Know: Nutrition

Vitamin C: 1 cup mango = 100%  daily requirement, which improves immune health
Vitamin A: Supports eye health, immune function, reproduction, and cell growth involved in the formation and maintenance of heart, lungs, & kidneys
Folate: Plays a role in production of red blood cells, & helps prevent neural tube defects in utero
Vitamin B6: Promotes healthy skin, improves cognitive function, necessary for protein/carbohydrate/lipid metabolism, and immune function
Copper: Necessary for formation of red blood cells, healthy bones, blood vessels, nerves, and immune function, also contributes to iron absorption

Picking & Storing 

  • The Mango has two seasons- one in the spring/summer and one in the fall/winter providing a year-round supply.
  • When picking mangoes, squeeze the mango gently. A ripe mango will give slightly, like a peach or avocado.
  • Keep unripe mangoes at room temperature. Do not refrigerate mangoes before they are ripe.   Mangoes will continue to ripen at room temperature, becoming sweeter and softer over several days.
  • To speed ripening, place mango in a paper bag at room temperature. Once ripe, mangoes should be moved to the refrigerator, which will slow down the ripening process. Whole, ripe mangoes may be stored for up to 5 days in the refrigerator.
  • Mangoes can be peeled, cubed and placed in an airtight container in the fridge for several days or in the freezer for up to 6 months.

Preparing

  1. Place the mango such that the stem is on top.
  2. Place a knife about ¼ inch from the midline and slice downwards.
  3. Repeat on the other side.
  4. Run a spoon just beneath the flesh to to scoop out the mango
  5. Cut into cubes and enjoy!

Pomegranate

Need To Know: Nutrition

Vitamin K: Supports blood clotting and bone metabolism
Antioxidants (Polyphenols) May slow cancer growth and lower heart disease risk
Folate: Plays a role in production of red blood cells, & helps prevent neural tube defects in utero

inflamation

Picking & Storing 

  • In the US, fresh pomegranates come ripe in September or October and are available until January.
  • The ripest pomegranates are the ones whose peels are beginning to crack open, their plump, ripe seeds expanding  beyond the peel’s ability to contain them.
  • Store in the fridge for 1-6 months. Storing on the counter tends to dry them out.
  • Once seeded, if not eaten immediately, store chilled in an airtight container for 3-4 days.

Preparing

  1. Make a thin slice on the bottom of the pomegranate and place it cut side down on the cutting board to stabilize it (the blossom end that looks like a crown should be on top).
  2. At a shallow angle, cut around and remove the crown.
  3. Make a shallow, vertical cut along the ridges just through the red part on the outside of the pomegranate from blossom end to stem end.
  4. Pry open the pomegranate exposing the seeds (arils) until you’ve made 6 cuts
  5. Pry the seeds away from the membrane working over top of a bowl (if you fill the bowl with water, the seeds will sink to the bottom and the membranes will float to the top)
  6. Put the seeds into a serving bowl and munch away

Lychee

Need To Know: Nutrition

Niacin Helps with digestion, skin health, and nervous system),
Riboflavin Supports growth, repair, and breakdown of carbohydrates, proteins, and fats to produce energy
Potassium Regulates your body’s fluid, helps your muscles contract, and helps maintain overall heart health
Phosphorus Supports bone health and kidney function
Magnesium Used for building proteins, supporting muscle & nerve function, blood glucose control, and blood pressure regulation

Picking & Storing 

  • Choose lychee with red shells that are heavy for their size. Brown patches indicate sweeter fruit. A ripe lychee should be easy to peel with your fingers
  • Store lychee in a plastic bag in the fridge for up to 10 days.

Preparing

  1. Be very gentle as your remove the thin skin from the fruit. It will likely come off in just a few pieces.
  2. Now use your fingers to dig into the lychee a bit to remove the pit. It should very easily slide right out. You’ll notice a very thin,  brownish layer from the pit, that will remain on the inside of the fruit. Don’t try to remove this (you’ll lose a lot of juice). ]
  3. Now just pop it right into your mouth!

Adding more fruit to your daily plate is that’s needed to feel better and decrease any pain or discomfort associated with inflammation.

Join Registered Dietitians with Kailo Nutrition at Native Sun for a culinary tasting tour of fruits and vegetables that are off the beaten path. You’ll walk away with new recipes and a plan on how to use food as a way to gain control of your health.

 

Kendra Keupner, MS, a Dietetic Intern with Sodexo contributed to this article.