Insider’s Viewpoint: Fruit and Vegetable Fact vs. Fiction
When it comes to fruits and vegetables, there are a lot of myths that exist. Most of us fall short of meeting the recommended daily servings, so it is important to set the record straight on misinformation that may discourage people from enjoying their favorite fruits and vegetables.
5 Fruit & Veggie MythBusters
Potatoes are Bad for You. Potatoes are naturally free of fat, cholesterol and sodium. A medium-sized potato contains only about 110 calories yet provides almost half of your daily vitamin C needs. Potatoes are also packed with complex carbohydrates, potassium and fiber. Much of the fiber can be found in the skin, so eat your potatoes with the skin when possible.
Fresh Fruit is Healthier than Frozen or Canned. Fresh produce is a delicious and healthy option however frozen and canned are just as nutritious. Frozen fruits and vegetables are picked and processed at the peak of ripeness and then flash frozen, which locks in their flavor and nutrients. Canned fruits and vegetables are non-perishable and budget-friendly. They too are harvested at peak ripeness.
- When buying canned fruit, avoid added sugar and calories by selecting varieties packed in water or fruit juice rather than syrup.
- When selecting canned vegetables, avoid extra sodium by giving them a good rinse prior to eating or look for those labeled “reduced sodium” or “no salt added.” (The excess sodium and sugar in most people’s diet, however does not come from canned fruit or vegetables. What is most important is to eat fruits and vegetables, fresh, canned, or frozen.)
Fresh Produce is Too Expensive. It is possible to purchase fresh fruits and vegetables and stick to your budget.
- For the best prices, buy varieties that are on sale or in season.
- Do your own cutting and chopping at home rather than buying the pre-cut and packaged produce.
- Buying in bulk, such as a bag of apples or potatoes, is another way to save money.
- To avoid wasting money by throwing out produce that has passed its prime, freeze items like berries or bananas to use later in smoothies or muffins.
Avocados are Fattening. Although there are 4.5 grams of fat per serving, (a serving = about 1/5 of a medium-sized avocado) most of that fat is heart-healthy mono- and polyunsaturated fats. For only 50 calories, one serving also includes nearly 20 vitamins, minerals and phytonutrients. Avocados are also the richest known fruit source of phytosterols which is a group of compounds found in plant-based foods that have been found to help lower cholesterol.
Commercial Produce Washes are Essential to Properly Clean Your Fruits & Veggies. Whether you choose organic or conventional produce, proper cleaning is important to prevent foodborne illness. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) discourages the use of commercial produce washes and instead recommends washing all fruits and vegetables thoroughly under running water before eating, peeling, cutting or cooking. The FDA also recommends that you scrub firm produce, such as melons and cucumbers, with a clean produce brush. After cleaning, dry produce with a clean cloth towel or paper towel to further reduce bacteria that may be present.
Jennifer Meyer, RD, LMNT
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