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Become a Fruit Fan

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The
Department of Health bases its five-a-day message on a report from the World
Health Organisation (WHO) that came out in 1990. Looking at the amount of fruit
and vegetables eaten in regions like Italy and Greece, where high intakes of
fruit and vegetables were linked to low rates of chronic disease and some
cancers, the WHO recommended that 400g of fruit and vegetables should be
consumed per day. In 2003, the WHO confirmed this with further studies and
continues to recommend a minimum of 400g. To make it easier, health experts
have divided the 400g into 5x80g portions, two to three of them coming from
fruit.

 

WHY ARE FRUITS SO IMPORTANT?

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They are rich in fibre, important in healthy digestion
and help prevent certain conditions such as constipation and bowel cancer.

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They are packed with antioxidants that stop
free-radicals attacking and damaging our cells, helping prevent health problems
like heart disease, strokes and cancer.

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They contain vital vitamins and minerals, like vitamin
C, potassium, folate and beta-carotene.

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They are low in fat and calories yet fill us up, so
they help with appetite and weight control.

 

WHAT COUNTS AND WHAT IS A PORTION?

Most
fruit-containing foods can count towards your three fruit servings per day, but
there is a limit to how many portions they provide, regardless of the amount.
For example:

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Fresh fruit: 80g of
fresh fruit equals one fruit portion, e.g. 1 medium apple, 3 apricots, 4 heaped
tablespoons of blueberries.

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Dried fruit: 30g dried
fruit equals one fruit portion, e.g. 2 figs or 1 heaped tablespoon of raisins.

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Tinned fruit: 80g tinned fruit equals one
fruit portion, e.g. 2 pear halves or 2 pineapple rings

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Fruit juice: A small
glass (150ml) of pure fruit juice counts as one fruit serving, but you can only
count one serving of fruit juice towards your three fruit servings per
day. This is because unlike fresh fruit, the juicing process squeezes out
natural sugar that is normally found between the cells of fruit, which is
harmful to your teeth.

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Smoothies: A smoothie
can contain up to two portions of fruit per day, but not more than this. The
smoothies must contain at least 80g of fruit & 150ml pure fruit juice, or 2x
80g servings of fresh fruit.

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Fruit in recipes: Add up the
total amount of fruit used in a recipe and divide by 80g to give you the total
amount of fruit portions in the recipe. You can then divide this by the amount
of servings of food to figure out the amount of fruit portions you will be
consuming.

(For children younger than 11years old, use their fist size or 50g of
fruit as one fruit portion.)

 

DO I NEED VARIETY?

Each
different fruit contains various combinations of fibre, vitamins, minerals and
antioxidants. So to get the best benefit, eat a variety of fruit daily,
especially differently coloured fruits. And if you are not a fruit fan you can
puree fruit and…

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Mix it with fruit juice and freeze it into ice
lollies.

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Add into yoghurt and make smoothies or healthy
milkshakes.

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Add apple/pineapple puree into baking recipes, e.g.
blueberry muffins or banana bread.

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Mix into porridges or cereals.

 

WILL FRUIT MAKE ME GAIN WEIGHT?

Like
everything you eat, if you eat too much of it, you will put on weight. However,
many people make the mistake of thinking fruit is sugar and will cause you to
gain weight. The truth is, fruit is made up of various types of sugars, but the
main type of sugar is fructose, which has a different metabolic pathway and a
lower glycaemic (blood sugar) response compared to glucose, which is found in
candy and sweet, refined carbs. Fruit also contains fibre, which lowers the
glycaemic response even further.

 

Thus
if you eat a lot of fruit at one time, the sugar load in the blood can rise
unfavourably, but not if you eat one to two portions at a time. So the key is
to have a variety of fruits and spread them out throughout the day, rather than
having them in all in one shot.

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