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Why you should be stocking up – plus tips to increase your intake.

Fruit is often shunned because of its sugar content and the belief that it's fattening. But experts agree, by foregoing your daily fruit, you're doing your health – and your waistline – a disservice. Here are three good reasons to rediscover fruit:

Description: Description: Are You Eating Enough Fruit?

Are You Eating Enough Fruit?

1.    It’s full of nutrients

Yes, fruit contains natural sugar (fructose). But it's balanced by vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, phytochemicals, fibre and other active substances that have many health benefits. These include improving digestion and increasing your immune system function.

"Despite mounting evidence outlining its benefits, most South Africans don't meet the recommended intake of 400-500g of fruits and vegetables per day," says dietitian Cornelia Owens from the Nutritional Information Centre University of Stellenbosch (NICUS).

"A serving of fruit provides on average 15g carbohydrate, Og fat, 250kJ in energy and 2-4g fibre, depending on the type and ripeness of the fruit. Diets high in fruit are rich in fibre and micronutrients, and low in fat. This naturally protects against the so-called lifestyle diseases, like obesity, heart disease and cancer."

2.    It’ll help you slim down

Fruit fills you up without filling you out as it's low in kilojoules and consists mostly of water. "Ideally you should eat 4-5 portions of fruit and vegetables per day, of which half must be fruit," advised Owen.

Make sure you're aware of portion sizes, and don't exceed your intake of fruit servings, particularly if you're diabetic.

3.    It can rev up your metabolism

Description: Description: Good carbohydrates are unprocessed foods that include fruits and green vegetables

Good carbohydrates are unprocessed foods that include fruits and green vegetables

A diet containing low-glycaemic carbo­hydrates – green vegetables, beans, fruits and whole grains – will keep your metabolism higher than a diet of high-glycaemic carbohydrates. These include processed grains, potatoes, white rice and sugary beverages. Make the switch, and you'll soon feel an energy boost.

MIX IT UP

Try these innovative ways of including fruits in your diet:

·           Blend chopped cherries, mashed blueberries or shredded apples, pears or peaches with extra-lean mince for a succu­lent burger.

·           Grill skewers that alternate sweet melon chunks with red, yellow or green peppers and red onion.

·           Top frozen yoghurt with sliced plums.

·           Slice a banana, grate an apple or scatter blueberries into your cereal.

·           Eat fresh fruit salad topped with plain, fat-free yoghurt and mint leaves, or try a baked fruit dessert instead of sugar-laden puddings.

·           For the kids, create colourful fruit kebabs to encourage them to eat more of these healthy foods.

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