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The nutritional value of fruit depends on the kind, but it is usually a good source of vitamin C and the mineral potassium. Some fruits are fair sources of some B vitamins and other minerals in smaller amounts. This food group consists mostly of water and is low in calories by weight. As fruits generally contain very little fat or protein, most of their calories come from carbohydrates. They are typically a good source of fiber.
Fruits are generally low in calories. A medium-sized orange contains only 65 calories, and a medium-sized apple or banana has only about 100 calories. In terms of calories, the nutritional value of fruit usually comes almost entirely from carbohydrates. Two exceptions include coconuts and avocados, which have more fat than most other fruits.
These foods are also a good source of fiber. A medium orange or apple provides about 3 g of fiber, or about 15 percent of the U.S. recommended daily allowance (RDA). A medium banana offers about 4 g of fiber. The nutritional value of fruit with skin is reduced when the skin is removed. This is because much of fruit's fiber is often found in the skin, as is the case for fruits such as apples, pears, and kiwi.
Citrus fruit is generally well known as a good source of vitamin C. Oranges, grapefruit, and limes are all very good source of this vitamin. Other good sources of vitamin C include kiwi, cantaloupe, and berries, although most fruits offer some vitamin C.
Some fruits provide fair amounts of B vitamins, such as B1, B2, and the B vitamin folate. For example, oranges contain about 10 percent of the RDA for vitamin B1, about 10 percent of the RDA for folate, and small amounts of B2, B3, and B6. Bananas are a good source of B6 and provide about 20 percent of the RDA for this vitamin.
The mineral potassium is an important part of the nutritional value of fruit. Bananas are rightly regarded as good source of potassium, as a single medium banana provides almost 25 percent of the RDA for this mineral. Many other fruits are also good sources. Fruits usually contain other minerals in smaller amounts.
When they are orange or red in color, the nutritional value of fruit can include vitamin A in the form of beta carotene. Peaches, grapefruit, and watermelon are a few examples. Although less common in the United States, mangoes and papayas provide even more beta carotene.
I like to eat a variety of fruits for afternoon snacks. Not only are they delicious, but they satisfy my sweet tooth while providing many nutritional requirements. It's nice to know that most fruits are also low in calories.
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