It’s a well-documented fact that we need more fruits and vegetables in our diet to not only maintain health, but also to prevent chronic illnesses that plague our nation today. 100 years ago, the average consumption in the U.S. of home grown produce was 131 pounds per person. Today the average consumption is only 11 pounds per year! The result? A diet largely lacking in health giving minerals, vitamins, antioxidants, phytochemicals and fiber – all essential for avoiding chronic illness.
Antioxidants found in fruits are powerful substances that protect the body against the harmful effects of free radicals, which themselves are the result of poor dietary choices, pesticides, pollution stress and other factors. Phytochemicals have antioxidant properties that protect against cell damage.
Not only is the consumption of home grown produce (from family gardens) down, but the Center for Disease Control tells us that only one in 10 Americans eat enough of any type of grown fruits and vegetables. Even in the state of California, where fruit consumption is the highest in the nation, only 18% of the population met the recommended daily requirement of fruits and vegetables.
Fruit is a great alternative to processed and junk food, so bringing it to work as a snack or part of your lunch is an important step in staying healthy. But your choice of fruit is important because not all fruits are considered equal if you’re trying to manage your weight or keep your blood sugar levels manageable. Any fruits that have higher fructose content, too little fiber or have been hybridized to make them seedless aren’t the best choice.
These three fruits, however, are an excellent source of nutrients and can be easily taken to work to eat as a snack.
Blueberries, strawberries, raspberries and blackberries. Studies on the protective health benefits of berries provide stunning conclusive evidence of the power of eating even a cup of berries a day. They are packed with antioxidants and phytochemicals and have enough fiber to keep blood sugar low.Conventionally grown berries can have pesticides on them, so wash them well or buy organically grown berries. Buying frozen organically grown berries is an economical and convenient way to keep berries on hand. Scoop out a cup a day and bring them to work in an easy to carry small food storage container.
You can easily make berries an absolutely delicious treat by drizzling them with good balsamic vinegar. Here’s a quick recipe to show you how easy they are to prepare.
While we may not think of avocados as fruit, they are in the fruit category called drupes. Drupes are fruits with a pit or stone at their core. Avocados are an excellent source of good mono unsaturated fat (a plant-based raw fat that we’re often deficient in) as well as a good source of folate, dietary fiber, vitamins C and E, riboflavin and B6.
Look for avocados that are slightly firm to the touch with a brown outer skin. The outer skin protects them (and you) from pesticide spray. Avocados are easy enough to slice and place on a whole grain cracker for a quick, filling snack.
Another fruit in the drupe family. We don’t often think of fruit as a good source of fat but here’s another that is rich in mono unsaturated fat. Olives are a good plant-based source of fat as opposed to the saturated fat that is present in animal-based foods. Substituting plant-based fats for animal fats is a great way to manage artery damaging LDL (bad) cholesterol.
Olives have been cultivated for over 5,000 years and many types are grown in Italy, Spain and Greece. California is home to most U.S.-grown olives. Of course, organically grown are best, but all olives get cured before they are packaged and sold. Nevertheless, look for “organically grown” on the package.
A few olives as a quick snack also provide copper, iron, vitamin E and fiber. Another benefit is they are low in sugar content, meaning they won’t spike your blood sugar during the workday. Eat them plain, on a cracker or add them to a salad for lunch.
While you’re thinking of ways to incorporate more berries, avocados and olives into your workday diet, you should also know that there are a few fruits you should try to avoid during your 9-to-5 (but not at all times!). You may want to consider keeping a lid on your weekday intake of the following three fruits.
Pineapple contains an enzyme named bromelain which is great for digestion but it is also very high in sugar, which causes highs and lows to glucose levels – something you want to avoid, especially while at work.
An average banana has 120 calories and high natural sugar content. They may be easy to store, but that could lead to overeating.
Watermelon has a low satiety rate, meaning it won’t fill you up. Plus, watermelon has high sugar content.
We’d love to hear what you have been taking to work for snacks and how you’ve integrated fruit into your diet. Leave a comment and follow Café Quill on social media to share your tips!