Health Benefits of Fruits and Vegetables

Tips To Keep Foods Ripe and Fresh

When shopping for fresh fruits, you'll want to consider ripeness. As fruit ripens, the starch turns to sugar, which gives fruits their characteristic sweet taste. Some fruits continue to ripen after they're harvested, while others do not. Whether or not a fruit continues to ripen determines its storage and shelf life. For fruits that continue to ripen, it's a good idea to select them at varying stages of ripeness so they're not all ripe at the same time.

Fruits that require additional ripening should be stored at room temperature until they reach the desired ripeness. To has ten the ripening of some fruits, such as pears and peaches, put them in a loosely closed paper bag on the counter.

They'll be ready to eat in a day or two. If fruits become overly ripe, instead of tossing them, try trimming any blemishes, then cooking and puréeing the fruit to make sauces for dressings or desserts. Fruits that do not ripen after harvesting should be stored in a cool area, such as the refrigerator, until you are ready to eat them.

Fresh and Beyond

There are lots of easy, nutritious, and affordable ways to enjoy fruits and vegetables all year long:

  • Buy in season. Some types of fresh produce are great buys year-round, such as bananas, apples, broccoli, potatoes, carrots, cabbage, and spinach. Other items are more affordable -- and better tasting -- at certain times of the year. If your community offers a farmer's market, be sure to frequent it for extra-fresh produce.
  • Go for convenience. Try prewashed and/or precut salad greens, baby carrots, and chopped fresh vegetables. The time savings can be huge, and the waste very little.
  • Can it. Canned goods can be a low-cost, convenient way to enjoy your fruits and vegetables. Canned fruits and vegetables are generally comparable in vitamins and fiber to their fresh and frozen counterparts. Look for fruits packed in juice or water. Wash away extra sugar from canned fruits and extra salt from canned vegetables by rinsing them under cold water after opening.
  • Hit the sales. Look for great deals offered by your local grocery store. Often, bargain prices on fruits and vegetables are used to draw in customers. Check the food ads before you shop. Since you're looking for variety, try the items that are on sale, even if some are new to you.
  • Join the cold rush. Flash-freezing fruits and vegetables keeps all the important nutrients locked in tight. Frozen produce is handy to keep in your freezer for whenever you need it. Look for mixtures of vegetables to use in soups or stir-frys or to just steam or microwave and eat. Look for fruits frozen without added sugar.

How you store, clean, and prepare your produce can affect its nutritional benefits. Let's review some helpful tips in the next section.

This information is solely for informational purposes. IT IS NOT INTENDED TO PROVIDE MEDICAL ADVICE. Neither the Editors of Consumer Guide (R), Publications International, Ltd., the author nor publisher take responsibility for any possible consequences from any treatment, procedure, exercise, dietary modification, action or application of medication which results from reading or following the information contained in this information. The publication of this information does not constitute the practice of medicine, and this information does not replace the advice of your physician or other health care provider. Before undertaking any course of treatment, the reader must seek the advice of their physician or other health care provider.