It's no secret that healthy eating means increasing your intake of fruits and vegetables. As easy as this may sound, putting it into practice can be difficult. Adults tend to eat less than the recommended amounts of essential nutrients, including fruits, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Eating fruit before a meal not only encourages extra fruit intake, it may also help you control your weight and meet your vitamin and mineral needs.
Low Energy Density
Eating a piece of fruit right before your meal may help control your eating during mealtime. Sitting down for a meal when you're starving can lead to overeating and excessive calorie intake. Eating a piece of fruit before a meal allows you to put something that is low calorie into your stomach. Fruits are considered to be a low-energy-density food. This means that they provide a small amount of energy, or calories, for a high volume. Eating low-energy-density foods, especially before a meal, helps to reduce your overall caloric intake, which lends itself to weight control.
Eating fruit before a meal increases your intake of fiber for that meal, because most fruit is high in fiber. When you eat fiber, you feel fuller for a longer period of time because fiber slows down digestion. It also helps block the absorption of fats and cholesterol, making your meal that much better for you. If you are diabetic, fiber in your meal means slower digestion and a slower release of glucose into your bloodstream. When this occurs, your glucose is better controlled. High-fiber fruit sources include apples and pears with the skin on, raspberries and bananas.
Vitamins and Minerals
The optimal way to get all of the vitamins and minerals your body needs is through your diet. Adding fruit to your daily eating plan not only helps to control your eating and weight and to curb your appetite, it also helps you obtain the essential nutrition for good health.
Fresh or Packaged
Good nutrition can be found in all forms of fruit. Whether canned, dried or raw, fruits provide essential nutrition for your body. Frozen and canned fruits are packaged and processed within hours after being picked, which helps to preserve the vitamins and minerals within. Fruit juice, however, contains much less fiber than actual fruit. Read nutrition labels to avoid canned or frozen fruits that contain added sodium or sugars.
- "Dietary Guidelines for Americans, 2010"; United States Department of Agriculture and the United States Department of Health and Human Services; 2010
- MayoClinic.com: Energy Density and Weight Loss: Feel Fuller on Fewer Calories; January 20, 2011
- "Nutrition: Concepts and Controversies"; Francis Sizer and Eleanor Whitney; 2004.
- MayoClinic.com: Dietary Fiber; November 19, 2009
- MayoClinic.com: High-Fiber Foods; November 17, 2009
- Medline Plus: Vitamins