Fruits: Fun facts and health benefits

Published 10:00 pm Thursday, March 9, 2017

Most folks agree we all need several servings of fruits and vegetables each day. The amounts I recommend are:

For children 2-8 years: 1 to 1 ½ cups a day.

Girls 9-18 years: 1 ½ cups a day.

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Boys 9-18 years: 1 ½ to 2 cups a day.

Women 19-30 years: 2 cups a day.

Women 30+ years: 1 ½ cups a day.

Men 19 + years: 2 cups a day.

Now that we know the daily volume of fruits and vegetables we should have each day, let’s just have some fun. I’d like to share with you some interesting, but true facts about fruits and vegetables you might not know.

Here we go!

A strawberry isn’t really a berry, but a banana is. Strawberries are the only fruit that grows seeds on the outside.

A banana ripens more quickly if you place it in a brown paper bag with an apple or tomato. India is the #1 banana producer in the world.

Apples float in water, because they are composed of 25 percent air. There are 7,000 different types of apples grown all over the world.

Frozen vegetables are just as beneficial to health as fresh ones (I did an article on that once).

Sugar beets are the second most important source of sugar after the sugar cane. Asparagus, which can grow 10 inches in 24 hours, is a member of the lily family. Garlic, leeks, chives, and onions also belong to the lily family.

Avocado leaves, bark, and fruit are very poisonous to animals (including horses).

Kiwis were once called Chinese gooseberries.

The largest zucchini measured 69 ½ inches long, and weighed 65 pounds.

A watermelon is 92 percent water.

Pineapples are actually berries.

Raspberries, pears and blackberries belong to the rose family.

Yams and sweet potatoes are not the same.

There are 10,000 types of tomatoes. Although a fruit, it took a ruling by the Supreme Court in 1893 to make, by law, the tomato a vegetable. One hornworm can eat an entire tomato plant in one day. The French used to refer to the tomato as the “apple of love.”

Some radishes can grow three feet long and weigh 100 pounds.

There are 700 varieties of peaches.

Thomas Jefferson is credited with introducing French fries to America. Potatoes do not have to be stored in the refrigerator, but should be stored in a dark, dry place.

The persimmon is Japan’s national fruit.

California produces 95 percent of the nectarines grown in the United States.

The word cauliflower means “cabbage flower.”

Zucchini, eggplant, olives, capsicum, avocados, peapods, cucumber, pumpkin and butternut pumpkin are all actually fruits.

It takes just one ounce of celery seed to produce an acre of celery.

Corn is actually a type of grass.

In Latin apricot means “precious.”

The rutabaga began as a cross between wild cabbage and the turnip, and got its name from the Swedish word “rotabagge” meaning round root.

Mushrooms are not plants, but rather a separate kingdom of fungi.

A mango tree can grow as tall as 100 feet.

Microwaving a lime for 15 seconds before squeezing yields twice the juice.

I hope you’ve enjoyed some of these interesting facts. Remember, eating more fruits and vegetables could significantly reduce risk for many chronic diseases such as high blood pressure, obesity, cancer, and heart disease.

If you are not crazy about many fruits and vegetables, take a stroll down your grocer’s produce aisle or visit your local farmers market. You might see produce you’re never tried or even thought of. Also, there are so many new (to us) exotic fruits and vegetables to try. 

Diet or exercise question? Email me at David Crocker of Landrum has been a nutritionist and master personal trainer for 29 years. He served as strength director of the Spartanburg Y.M.C.A., head strength coach for the USC Upstate baseball team, the SC state champion girls gymnastic team, and the Converse College equestrian team.

He served as a water safety instructor to the United States Marine Corps, lead trainer to L.H. Fields modeling agency, and taught for four semesters at USC Union. David was also a regular guest of the Pam Stone radio show.