AHA News: A Nutritious Side Dish to Grill This Memorial Day

FRIDAY, May 22, 2020 (American Heart Association News) -- The coronavirus has put a damper on Memorial Day outings, but you can still kick off barbecue season with healthy grilled fruit kebabs.

Skewers filled with pineapple, strawberry, banana and watermelon offer a smart alternative to typical holiday desserts like ice cream and cake.

"All fruits are nutritious because they're a source of micronutrients, dietary fibers and polyphenols, the latter of which have antioxidant and anti-inflammatory benefits," said Penny Kris-Etherton, a registered dietitian and professor of nutrition at Pennsylvania State University's Department of Nutritional Sciences.

"Many studies have shown that higher fruit intake is associated with better health and a decreased risk of chronic disease-related morbidity and mortality."

The fruit kebabs might be sweet and tasty, but they're also packed with soluble and insoluble fiber, which have lots of health benefits and make you feel full.

"Soluble fiber decreases cholesterol absorption and lowers (bad) LDL cholesterol, a causal factor in the development of atherosclerosis," Kris-Etherton said. "Insoluble fiber benefits gastrointestinal health … and total fiber is thought to play a role in satiety and control food intake."

The recipe also contains balsamic vinegar. Kris-Etherton said the nutritional benefits of vinegar are still largely unproven, especially in the small amounts used in this recipe.

Make sure to keep an eye on the honey and don't add more than the two tablespoons in the recipe.

"Honey is considered an added sugar (and) it has the same effect physiologically as does sugar," she said.

The American Heart Association recommends limiting added sugar to no more than 100 calories a day for most women and no more than 150 calories a day for men.

Grilled Fruit Kebabs

  • 8 skewers

  • 2 cups pineapple chunks

  • 2 cups watermelon chunks

  • 2 bananas (peeled, cut into large chunks)

  • 1 package strawberries (stems discarded)

  • 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar

  • 2 teaspoons honey

  • 1 tablespoon canola oil

If using wooden skewers, make sure to soak them in water for at least 30 minutes.

Heat a grill to medium-high. Prepare the fruit by chopping 2 cups pineapple and 2 cups watermelon. Peel and thickly slice bananas and remove stems from strawberries.

Thread fruit onto the skewers, aiming for two pieces of each fruit per skewer: strawberry, pineapple, watermelon, banana, strawberry, pineapple, watermelon and banana. Place onto a platter or baking sheet.

In a small bowl, combine the balsamic vinegar, honey and oil. Whisk together. Use a basting brush to glaze fruit with about half the balsamic mixture.

Grill fruit kababs about 8 to 10 minutes, turning a couple of times while cooking and basting with remaining balsamic mixture until fruit is caramelized.

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