Fruit Salad Magic

Turn fruit into a salad, and watch it disappear.

By Elaine Magee, MPH, RD
WebMD Weight Loss Clinic - Feature

Reviewed by Kathleen Zelman, MPH, RD/LD

Even if you aren't crazy about fruit, who can resist the array of colors, textures, and flavors a fruit salad offers? If you've got fruit sitting in a bowl or in your refrigerator, take five minutes to transform it into fruit salad. It's like magic -- your family and visitors will suddenly find the fruit irresistible, and it will disappear before your eyes.

Some fruit salads do taste better than others, however. Picture a salad made with canned peaches, apricots, and mandarin oranges -- all of which have similar colors and textures. Then imagine a salad made with crisp, tart apples; firm red grapes or blueberries; strawberry halves; and sliced banana or mango. This salad presents an assortment of colors and textures -- and is thus much more appealing.

Here are a few other things to keep in mind when creating fruit salad magic:

The Most Nutritious Fruits for Your Salad

Fruit gives us all sorts of nutrients, from minerals like potassium to antioxidant vitamins like vitamin A and C, not to mention hundreds of phytochemicals. To narrow down the playing field, here are some of the top fruit sources of three powerful vitamins.

Vitamin A (think yellow/orange fruits):

  • Mango, 1 = 805 retinol equivalents (RE)
  • Cantaloupe cubes, 1 cup = 561 RE
  • Apricots, 2 = 183 RE
  • Watermelon cubes, 1 cup = 56 RE
  • Peach, 1 medium = 53 RE
  • Papaya cubes, 1 cup = 39 RE
  • Orange segments, 1 cup = 37 RE

Vitamin C (think orange and red fruits):

  • Orange segments, 1 cup = 96 milligrams (mg)
  • Papaya cubes, 1 cup = 86 mg
  • Strawberry halves, 1 cup = 86 mg
  • Kiwifruit, 1 = 74 mg
  • Cantaloupe cubes, 1 cup = 68 mg
  • Mango, 1 = 57 mg
  • Pink/red grapefruit, half = 46 mg
  • Raspberries, 1 cup = 30 mg
  • Blackberries, 1 cup = 30 mg

Folic acid (think orange and red fruits):

  • Orange segments, 1 cup = 55 micrograms (mcg)
  • Papaya cubes, 1 cup = 53 mcg
  • Blackberries, 1 cup = 50 mcg
  • Banana, 1 = 35 mcg
  • Raspberries, 1 cup = 32 mcg
  • Orange, 1 small = 29 mcg
  • Mango, 1 medium = 29 mcg
  • Kiwifruit, 1 = 29 mcg
  • Cantaloupe cubes, 1 cup = 27 mcg
  • Strawberry halves, 1 cup = 27 mcg

Fruits vs. Veggies

I know plenty of people who love fruit, but feel quite differently about vegetables. Vitamin A, Vitamin C, and folic acid are just some of the many vitamins that you can get from fruits if you don't like vegetables. All three are found in dark green vegetables, for example. Not bonkers for broccoli? Feel free to enjoy the fruits listed above, and get your daily dose of these vitamins.

And what about the powerful phytochemicals found in colorful vegetables, which you've been hearing so much about in the news? Many of them are found in fruit, too.

Anthocyanins and proanthocyanins, which are thought to have antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties, are in most berries and grapes, in addition to eggplant and red cabbage. Lutein, which is known to have antioxidant action, is in oranges as well as dark green veggies. Lycopene, another antioxidant, can be found in watermelon, guava, and red and pink grapefruit in addition to tomatoes.

Red grapes and blueberries contribute resveratrol, an antioxidant that may offer protection from heart disease. Blueberries, strawberries, and pineapple have p-courmaric, another known antioxidant. The antioxidant quercetin is found in apples, pears, cherries, grapes, and strawberries. Lots of fruits contain the phenolic acid phytochemical group: bright green kiwifruit; purple fruits like plums and blackberries; red cherries, strawberries and cranberries; and orange fruits like guava and mango.

Dressing Up Your Fruit Salad

You can dress up your fruit salad with all sorts of additional ingredients. There are things you toss in for texture and flavor pizzazz -- like walnuts or gingersnap crumbs if you want something crunchy, and miniature marshmallows if you want something sweet. And then there are things you drizzle onto the fruit, like flavored light yogurt if you want something creamy and tart or a splash of amaretto liqueur if you want a little kick.

What should you avoid adding to your fruit salad if you're trying to trim calories? First, there's whipped cream, with 51 calories per 2-tablespoon serving. Some recipes call for mayonnaise or Miracle Whip -- but at 200 calories per 2-tablespoon serving, you're better off without it. (See the recipe below for a lighter Mock Mayo for your fruit salad recipes.)



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