More than two-thirds of adults fall short of getting the government’s recommended two cups of fruit daily, according to registered dietitian Cynthia Sass. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that more than two-thirds of adults are also overweight. If you’re among either group, it may help to eat more fruits and dates, although you should consult your doctor before starting a weight loss plan or making any major changes to your diet.
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Eating more fruit on top of your typical diet won’t help you slim down, but replacing some higher calorie foods with fruits might. Most fruits have low energy-density levels, which means they have low calorie counts per serving. To reduce the calorie counts of what you’re eating but keep the same volume of food, substitute sliced fresh fruits for some of your breakfast cereal, granola, baked goods, rice or meat. Dates have a higher energy density but still offer a wide array of nutrients, with at least 15 minerals and six vitamin varieties in every fruit. Most of a date's carbohydrates are natural sugars, so one way to lower calories but still satisfy a sweet tooth is by eating several sweet dates instead of a dessert like cake or an ice cream sundae.
It also makes sense to seek out fruits that have the highest fiber counts when you’re watching your weight. Dietary fiber intake is inversely associated with body weight as well as body fat percentage and body mass index (BMI), according to a research review published in 2005 in the journal “Nutrition.” Fiber may also stimulate weight loss by decreasing net calorie absorption. Almost all fruits have at least 1 gram of fiber per serving, but pears, blackberries and raspberries have more than 5 grams per serving, so eating them more often could facilitate weight loss. Eating just three Medjool dates will also give you more than 5 grams of fiber.
Another helpful strategy is to occasionally use fruit salads or fruit smoothies as replacements for regular meals. As fruits can’t provide the protein and healthy fat you need on a daily basis, however, it’s healthiest to limit your fruit meal replacements to one per day. If fruits alone aren’t enough to fill you up, add a side of nonfat Greek yogurt, which is high in protein – the most filling type of nutrient. A sample smoothie that is high in both protein and fiber could include 1 cup of nonfat, plain Greek yogurt, 1 1/2 cups of fresh or frozen berries and a handful of crushed ice. Another option is the yogurt with two dates, half a frozen banana and crushed ice.
Weight Loss Pitfalls
While increasing the amount of fruit you eat can help you slim down, it’s important to stay mindful of the quantity of food you’re eating. It is possible to eat so much fruit that you hinder weight loss efforts, according to Dr. Melina Jampolis, a physician nutrition specialist for CNN.com. Jampolis suggests that you limit your fruit servings to three per day. Watching quantities is especially key for dried fruits like dates, which have smaller serving sizes and higher energy density levels. As a rule of thumb, a serving of fresh fruit should be about 1 cup, and a serving of dried dates should be about 1/4 cup.