Most people live hectic lifestyles and if you have children you can just about quadruple the ‘heck’ in hectic. Between work, school and social schedules it can be hard to find time for good nutrition — or so we tend to believe. Good nutrition is always at your fingertips and can be much faster than the fast food restaurant trap. I know sometimes it seems faster and easier to drive by McDonald’s, Taco Bell or Kentucky Fried Chicken, but natural fresh fruits are healthier and faster than even the fastest fast food chain.
Below I’ve listed the ‘fastest’ fresh fruits with their nutritional information for eating a small raw portion along side some of the quickest value menu options. Decide for yourself . . .
Bananas are one of my personal favorites. They conveniently come in their own disposable, biodegradable, and compostable wrapper. They contain less than one gram of fat total and only 2mg of sodium. Just one banana will give you one third of the recommended daily allowance of vitamin C. They are also high in folate, pantothenic acid and magnesium and additionally contain small amounts of vitamin A, calcium, vitamin K, niacin, phosphorus and selenium. Below for comparison you’ll find the nutritional information for a Whopper from Burger King — also fast and easy to eat on the run. However, just one Whopper contains over 1400mg of sodium. That’s 2/3 of your allowed sodium for the day in one quick snack.
1 cup raw Banana mashed (click to enlarge image):
One Whopper from Burger King (click to enlarge image):
Apples are so fast and easy, that all you have to do is pull the stem off the top, wash, and eat. The skin is full of vitamins and minerals that are great for keeping a body on the go. When you eat a raw apple with the skin you can enjoy a snack that only has 2 calories from fat! Apples are high in potassium and vitamin C and also contain vitamin A, calcium, vitamin K, folate, phosphorus and magnesium. Think about that next time you’re cramming a Big Mac down your gullet. McDonald’s Big Macs on the other hand contain a whopping 295 calories from fat (a total of 563 calories) and over 1000mg of sodium.
1 cup raw Apples chopped (click to enlarge image):
1 McDonalds Big Mac (click to enlarge image):
Of the fast fresh fruits I have listed here, strawberries might be the hardest to eat — but only if you’re trying to avoid eating the leaves (which can easily be pulled off by hand if you’re not home). Strawberries are manna from heaven in my own opinion, but don’t just take my word for it — they give you over 100% of the recommended allowance of vitamin C and 9% of your recommended dose of folate. Calories from fat; a mere 4 of a total of 49 calories. Strawberries are also high in potassium, vitamin K and magnesium. By comparison eating just one beef soft taco from Taco Bell you’ll get 92 calories from fat including 4g of saturated fat and 626mg of sodium. Certainly not the worst fast food I have listed here, but not good for you either.
1 cup raw Strawberries quartered (click to enlarge image):
Taco Bell Beef Soft Taco (click to enlarge image):
Plums are a delicious treat as well. The biggest problem with plums is eating just one. Remember prunes are dried plums. Don’t eat too many of these beauties unless you’re trying to clean out your system. Plums are amazing! They are high in potassium, vitamin A, vitamin C, vitamin K and give you small amounts of calcium, folate, phosphorus and magnesium as well. If you choose instead to snack on some McDonald’s french fries you enjoy 170 calories just from fat and 266mg of sodium — and that’s just a medium fry. You don’t want the numbers for a large fry.
1 cup raw Plums sliced (click to enlarge image):
McDonalds Medium French Fry (click to enlarge image):
To me nothing is better than a perfectly ripe and sweet peach. Instructions: Wash, devour, repeat. Peaches, as delicious as they are, only contain 3 calories from fat, no saturated fat and certainly no trans fat. You’ll also get potassium, fiber, a small amount of protein, vitamins A, C and K, calcium, niacin, folate, phosphorus and magnesium. Even as a snack, a bowl of vegetable beef soup from Subway, just doesn’t compare. I always say if you’re going to eat fast food eat Subway — but Subway is really just better than other fast food. It is still not necessarily good for you (but that’s a topic for a whole other post). Vegetable beef soup at Subway still has over 1300mg of sodium. That’s more than half of your sodium for the day in one snack.
1 cup raw Peaches sliced (click to enlarge image):
Subway Vegetable Beef Soup (click to enlarge image):
Although pears may not be one of my favorite fruits, they are still delicious, nutritious and fast. Wash and enjoy potassium, 16% of your fiber for the day, 1g of protein, vitamins A, C, and K, folate, calcium, phosphorus and magnesium. Oh yeah — and a whole 1 calorie from fat! However if you choose instead to snack on a KFC Crispy Caeser Twister, you’ll be enjoying 369 calories from fat and a total of 744 calories (mostly empty ones). One little Twister will also provide you almost half of your saturated fat for the day and almost 70% of your sodium for the day. Hope you didn’t plan on eating anything else!
1 cup raw Pears sliced (click to enlarge image):
KFC Crispy Caeser Twister (click to enlarge image):
Make sure you’re always prepared with fast food by keeping washed fresh fruit ready to go with you when you walk out the door. Next time you’re crunched for time, remember that eating healthy can be just as fast as any fast food chain. Many convenience stores even carry a small selection of fruit, or at least some bananas. Or instead of stopping by a restaurant, stop by a grocery store. It is better to eat several pieces of fruit on the run and then eat a good meal when you get home, than to get the runs from greasy fast food. Your stomach, rear-end and arteries will thank you for making good decisions.
Let me know what your favorite fast fresh fruits are by leaving a comment below!
Percentages, vitamins and minerals discussed above are based on a 2000 calorie diet. Image credit for apple in water belongs to Vjeran Lisjak.