You know that healthy weight loss comes as a result of regular exercise and a diet filled with plenty of fruits and vegetables.

But is anything with the word “fruit” or that contains one fruit or another a valid way to meet your fruit quota? No. Here's proof.

Proof One: Fruity, Sweet Cereals

unhealthy fruitBy now, eating bowl after bowl of fruity cereals that leave your milk pink and orange may only be a problem for your kids. But if you're still addicted to the cereals that claim to have some semblance of fruit but are filled with added sugars and calories, it's time for a change. Sure, they

may taste good, but sugar-laden breakfast cereals are ruining your fitness results—even if they supposedly have real fruit flavors. Wean yourself from the fruity cereals by chopping some real fruit into a bowl of healthy, sugar-free, cereal.

Proof Two: Fruity Desserts

Your stomach may think strawberry ice cream, raspberry cheesecake, and cherry pie are desserts from healthy heaven, but your mind knows otherwise. Though many desserts that lean on fruit for flavor are unhealthy, there are also many healthy fruit-based desserts to enjoy. Fruit parfait and fruit sorbet are good alternatives. And if you just have to have your cake and eat it with berries too, a light angel food will do just fine. Just make sure the slice of cake is thin.

Proof Three: Fruit Smoothies

Now, now. Don't get all up in arms. All fruit smoothies are not unhealthy. In fact, some of them are quite healthy, giving you a big boost of vitamins and minerals that help you feel energetic and ready to face the day. However, if you dabble too far beyond the healthy fruit smoothie, you can add more sugar than is found in many desserts.

To keep your smoothie nice and healthy, don't add soft-serve ice cream or frozen yogurt, candy, or other items that are obviously high in sugar and unnecessary calories. Rather, keep your smoothie nothing but fruit, ice, juice, yogurt, and a nice scoop of protein powder to ensure it is high on the health chart.

Proof Four: (Un)Fruit Juice

Juice can be wonderful. It has great flavor, great color, and great amounts of important vitamins and minerals. At least it does when it is fruit juice. Unfortunately, many drinks claim to be fruit juice, while only containing a very low amount of fruit juice. For these low-fruit fruit juices, sugar and water make up the bulk of the contents, robbing you of the important benefits of all-natural fruit juice.

Keep fruit juice indulgences to a minimum, as even the fruit-only kind is loaded with simple sugars.

Go Natural. To clearly sidestep unhealthy fruit options, go for raw, whole fruits and avoid packaged fruit in any shape or form.

Benefits of Whole, Raw Fruit

FRUIT BENEFITSThere's a reason all physicians recommend you eat a healthy diet with plenty of fruits. Quite a few reasons, actually. The following are a few things you'll consume when eating a piece of your favorite type of fruit:

  • Fiber (helps maintain gastrointestinal regularity and reduces the risk of heart disease)
  • Folate (helps reduce a pregnant woman's risk for giving birth to a child with defects in the brain or spinal cord)
  • Potassium (helps your body maintain a healthy blood pressure)
  • Vitamin A (helps your body fight off infections and maintain healthy eyes and skin)
  • Vitamin C (helps your teeth stay healthy and assists your body in the healing process when you experience a cut or wound)

In order to get plenty of these important nutrients, you'll need to slide some fruit into your diet every day.

Fortunately, adding fruit to your meals is an easy thing. All you have to do is drown some grapes in yogurt for breakfast, eat a banana as a side item during lunch, and go for a fruit salad at dinner!

Healthy Orange Chicken and Green Beans

Here's a recipe that adds fruit to dinner and takes all the guilt out of orange-flavored chicken. There's no sugar and no fryer involved. Just skinless, boneless chicken breast, marinated in orange juice, pan seared and then baked. Serve it up with orange-spiked green beans for a nutritious, protein-packed meal. Servings: 4

orange chicken by USDAgov

orange chicken by USDAgov

Here's what you need:

For the Chicken:

  • 2 cups fresh orange juice
  • 2 Tablespoons grated orange zest
  • 4 skinless, boneless, chicken breasts
  • fresh ground pepper
  • 1 Tablespoon olive oil

For the Green Beans:

  • 10 oz fresh, organic, green beans
  • 1/4 cup fresh orange juice
  • 1 Tablespoon grated orange zest
  • 1 teaspoon olive oil
  • dash of salt and pepper

For the Orange-Brandy Sauce

  • 2 Tablespoon coconut oil
  • 3 shallots, minced
  • 2 Tablespoons brandy
  • 1 cup fresh orange juice
  • 1/2 cup chicken broth
  • 1 navel orange, peeled and each segment cut into 3 pieces
  • 1 Tablespoon parsley, chopped
  • Dash of salt and pepper

Cook the Chicken:

  1. Place the orange juice and orange zest in a large ziplock bag. Season each side of the chicken breasts with salt and pepper. Place the chicken breasts in the ziplock bag, coating each side with juice. Marinate in the refrigerator for 2-3 hours.
  2. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.
  3. Grease a 12-inch, oven-proof skillet with the olive oil. Place over medium-high heat. Add the chicken breasts in a single layer, cooking for 3 minutes. Turn the chicken, season with a sprinkle of salt and pepper. Place the skillet in the oven for 15 minutes, or until a thermometer registers 165 degrees F in the center of the thickest breast.
  4. Remove from oven and cover with foil as you make the sauce and cook the beans.

Cook the Green Beans:

  1. Wash the beans, snap off and discard the stems. Place in a large ziplock bag with the orange juice and orange zest. Allow to marinate in the refrigerator for 30 minutes.
  2. Heat a medium sized skillet over medium heat. Grease with the olive oil. Remove beans from refrigerator, discarding the juice. Add to the skillet and cook, covered for about 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Remove cover, increase the heat and cook for an additional 3 minutes, until the beans are bright green.

Cooke the Sauce:

  1. In a medium skillet heat the coconut oil over medium-high heat. Add the minced shallot, cook, stirring often, for 2 minutes. Turn off the heat, add the brandy. Return to the heat and cook, scraping the bottom, until the brandy has almost evaporated, about 30 seconds. Increase the heat to high, add the orange juice. Boil for 5 minutes. Add the chicken broth, boil for 3 minutes.
  2. Add in the orange segments and the parsley. Turn off heat. Season with salt and pepper.

To Serve:

  1. Cut the chicken on the diagonal into thin slices and arrange over a pile of green beans. Drizzle with the orange-brandy sauce.

Nutritional Analysis: One serving equals: 302 calories, 13g fat, 161mg sodium, 19g carbohydrate, 4g fiber, and 29g protein

Researchers calculated a total of 132,000 deaths from diabetes, 44,000 deaths from heart disease and 6,000 deaths from cancer. All in 2010 alone. And all attributed to drinking sugar-sweetened soft drinks, fruit juice, or sports beverages. Save a life and use the social share buttons to send to a friend that drinks far too many sugary drinks. 

By Avtar Nordine Zouareg

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