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The Health Benefits of Fruit

Clementine Oranges

Fabulous Healthy Fruits – Recipes Included!

Authored by Chef Thomas Carrig – Chef at Hilton Head Health

I’m thinking that you’ve heard this before, but eating fruit is really beneficial for you and an important part of a healthy diet. According to the CDC, only 12.1% of American adults eat the recommended one and a half to two cups of fruit each day. Statistics like this really puzzle me – fruit is sweet and delicious and very easy to find!  

I don’t have any data to support this claim, but I would feel pretty confident saying that the vast majority of the little bit of fruit consumed is eaten raw or eaten in the morning hours. 

Maybe, just maybe, if I showed you a couple of recipes that featured cooked fruit in a savory meal, more of you would eat more fruit! 

Why You Should Eat Fruit Every Day

First, to help motivate you, some very compelling reasons to eat the recommended amount of fruit each and every day. According to the United States Department of Agriculture’s “ChooseMyPlate” web site

Most fruits are naturally low in fat, sodium, and calories. None have cholesterol. 

Fruits are sources of many essential nutrients that are under-consumed, including potassium, dietary fiber, vitamin C, and folate (folic acid). 

Diets rich in potassium may help to maintain healthy blood pressure. Fruit sources of potassium include bananas, prunes, and prune juice, dried peaches and apricots, cantaloupe, honeydew melon, and orange juice. 

Dietary fiber from fruits, as part of an overall healthy diet, helps reduce blood cholesterol levels and may lower the risk of heart disease. Fiber is important for proper bowel function. It helps reduce constipation and diverticulosis. Fiber-containing foods such as fruits help provide a feeling of fullness with fewer calories.  

Vitamin C is important for the growth and repair of all body tissues helps heal cuts and wounds, and keeps teeth and gums healthy. 

Folate (folic acid) helps the body form red blood cells. Women of childbearing age who may become pregnant should consume adequate folate from foods and in addition 400 mcg of synthetic folic acid from fortified foods or supplements. This reduces the risk of neural tube defects, spina bifida, and anencephaly during fetal development. 

Fresh Fruit

Health benefits of Fruit

As part of an overall healthy diet, eating foods such as fruits that are lower in calories per cup instead of some other higher-calorie food may be useful in helping to lower caloric intake. 

Eating a diet rich in vegetables and fruits as part of an overall healthy diet may reduce the risk of heart disease, including heart attack and stroke. 

Eating a diet rich in some vegetables and fruits as part of an overall healthy diet may protect against certain types of cancers. 

Adding fruit can help increase the intake of fiber and potassium which are important nutrients that many Americans do not get enough of in their diet. 

Now you know just how beneficial fruit is, let’s cook some really great stuff with fruit and have it for lunch or dinner – to borrow from an old television commercial – “Fruit, it’s not just for breakfast anymore!” 

Peach Chutney Recipe

First up, a Hilton Head Health favorite, our “Peach Chutney.”  We serve this on grilled meats and our guests love it. It offers a great balance of sweetness, acidity, and spice and pairs especially well with grilled pork or chicken. And it also freezes well, so makes a big batch, portion it out into smaller containers and it makes for an easy elegant meal. 

When buying fresh peaches, use your hands, eyes, and nose!  A peach should feel firm all over and heavy in your hand. Look at the stem, the skin around the stem should be golden, or creamy – not pink or red. In the world of peaches, size matters – the bigger the better as they tend to be sweeter and juicier than smaller peaches.  Finally, hold it up to your nose and take a good sniff, you should detect that signature, pleasant peach sweetness. 

The peach season typically runs from May to October, depending on the weather of course and nice fresh peaches are abundant in our farmer’s markets and grocery store. Out of season, frozen peaches are a solid alternative – freezing technology has come a long way since the ’50s and ripe, fresh fruit is often frozen hours after picking. 

INGREDIENTS: 

½ tablespoon- Olive oil  

2 each- Peaches, pitted, sliced 

1 each- Shallot, chopped 

¼ cup- Orange juice, fresh  

1/4 teaspoon- Cinnamon, ground 

1/4 teaspoon- Red pepper flakes  

1/8 teaspoon- salt 

STEPS: 

Warm saucepan to medium heat. 

Add olive oil.  

Once the pan is hot, add shallots and cook until tender then add peach slices. 

Let peaches cook for about 5 minutes, stir frequently. 

Then add orange juice, cinnamon, pepper flakes, and salt. 

Stir frequently and bring peaches to a simmer until peaches are tender and the sauce has a slight thickness to it.  

Peach Chutney Nutrition Facts

Curried Apple Soup Recipe

This next recipe will blow your mind!  Another Hilton Head Health favorite – “Curried Apple Soup.”  This is “Wow” in a bowl, you must try it. While the main ingredient is apple, we use Granny Smith apples which have that great tartness and then combine with savory onions and celery and give it a fantastic flavor boost with some curry powder. If that weren’t enough, we are going to make this lush and “creamy” with fat-free Greek yogurt. 

Granny Smith apples are readily available all year round and should be firm with a bright green, sometimes freckled, shiny skin. According to the U.S. Apple Association, and yes there is one, the Granny Smith is the third most popular variety and it is named after a real granny – Anne Smith who cultivated apples in Australia back in the 1800s (she had eight children and a slew of grandchildren). 

INGREDIENTS: 

Granny Smith apples, peeled, cored, and chopped: 1 lb. 

Sweet onion, peeled and sliced: 1 medium 

Celery, thinly sliced: 2 stalks 

Butter: 2 T. 

Curry powder: 2 tsp. 

Lemon juice, fresh: ¼ cup 

Chicken stock: 2 ½ cup 

Low-fat yogurt, plain: 1 ¼ cup 

Salt: ¼ tsp. 

Black pepper: ¼ tsp. 

Mint, fresh, chopped: 1 T. 

STEPS: 

In a large saucepan, gently cook apples, onion, and celery in the butter, stirring occasionally, for 5 minutes.  Increase the heat to moderate, stir in the curry powder, cook for 3 minutes.  Add the lemon juice and stir in the stock.  Bring slowly to a boil, cover and simmer 15 minutes, or until apples are tender. 

Purée the soup in a blender or food processor.  Return soup to the rinsed pan; gradually add the yogurt then slowly return the soup to simmer.  Do not let boil.  Season to taste. 

Serve the soup hot or cold, garnished with mint. 

Like the chutney, this soup freezes well so you can make a bunch and freeze it in single or family size servings. Because of the balanced flavors, you can enjoy this soup at any time of the year. 

Curried Apple Nutrition Facts

Thanks for taking some time to learn some great recipes that will get you in the kitchen and eating more fruit to healthy up your diet!     

Chef Thomas Carrig
Chef at Hilton Head Health

Click here for more information about the wellness and weight loss programs at Hilton Head Health, recently named the #1 Wellness Resort the Country by USA Today