Health benefits of fruits


fruitsWe are most often born with healthy minds and bodies, but as we grow older, our body invariably loses its natural capacity to renew and rejuvenate itself. The main reason for this is poor diet and lifestyle choices. We have become completely alienated from nature. The progress of science has led to man being better fed, but very poorly nourished. The food we eat is devoid of vital nutrients. Diet plays a very important role, in the maintenance of good health, in addition to prevention and treatment of various diseases.

Nature has given us a vast choice of natural and fresh food which helps us lead a healthy, energetic and disease free life. All that we need is available in nature. We just need to have the knowledge to use them effectively in order to gain the most from them. Fruits are the most natural food you can find, which can be eaten raw – that is, in its natural state. Fruits are an excellent source of minerals, vitamins and enzymes. They can be easily digested and have a cleansing effect on the blood and the digestive system. There are a lot more reasons why we should have a generous helping of fruits in our diet.

Why should we eat fruits?

Fruits are alkaline forming    

When the body is acidic, it is more susceptible to diseases, and can lead to acidosis. It has been known for a long time that fruit is one of the most alkaline forming foods that exist. Some fruits like oranges maybe acidic to taste,  but are alkaline forming after digestion. An alkaline diet is said to improve the K/Na ratio and may benefit bone health, reduce muscle wasting, as well as prevent diseases such as hypertension and strokes. Most fruits are alkaline forming, except a few like prunes, plums and cranberries.

High in Water Content

Fruits also have a high percentage of water, about 80%, and hence are very hydrating. Water is one of the most essential nutrients. It regulates body temperatures, eliminates toxins, carries nutrients and helps chemical reactions that occur in our cells. Water also lubricates and cushions our joints.

Source of natural sugar

The body needs natural sugar as a source of energy. The complex sugar from starchy food is broken down into simpler sugars by digestive enzymes. Fruits contain simple sugars which is used directly by the body, unlike refined sugar which is devoid of nutrients and fibre, and do not provide any minerals and vitamins. Fruit on the other hand is a nutrient-dense food, full of vitamins and minerals.

Medicinal Properties of fruits

Fruits help to clear the system of wastes and toxins and replenish the body’s sugar, vitamins and minerals. The fibre in the fruits acts as a laxative and aids the smooth passage of food in the digestive tract. Papaya is an excellent source of vitamin C and carotene, and a medium sized mango provides much of the vitamin A necessary for the body. The minerals in the fruits and dry fruits like raisins help to build strong bones. Fruits like custard apple supply enough calcium to meet our daily requirement.

Certain fruits are known to be beneficial in combating certain ailments. Apple, pomegranate, lemon and orange are said to be beneficial for the heart. Fruits like apple dates and mango are said to be good for the central nervous system. The nutrients in these fruits exert a tonic effect on the nerves. All berries are said to strengthen nerves and build blood. Watermelons cleanses the kidneys. Lemons are a good remedy for liver problems and indigestion. Thus, a generous helping of fruits taken everyday, may help prevent diseases and keeps one energized and healthy.

How should we eat Fruits?

Eat Seasonal Fruits

Food culture usually evolves to suit the needs of every region. Globalization has taken away the food culture that is suited to a region. When one chooses to eat local fruits, one is sure that they are fresh. Nowadays it is difficult to know what fruit is in season as all kinds of fruit are readily available. When we eat seasonal fruits, we know that the phytonutrients have developed to their full potential. Fruits are available in certain seasons for a reason. We need more of certain nutrients during certain seasons. Water melons and tropical fruits are available in the summer, and they should be eaten then as they are high in water content and potassium. They replenish the water and salts that have been lost through sweat. Citrus fruits are available in winter. According to ayurveda, in winter, the constitution is usually imbalanced, which results in a sluggish internal environment that leads to the breeding of many viruses. To avoid this we need to build up our immunity, and what better fruit than oranges to do this.

Eat a Large variety of raw fruits

Nutritionists advice eating a large variety of fruits, so as to get all round nutrition.  One should also eat one type of fruit at a time, and avoid mixing acid fruits with sweet ones. Choosing local variants and seasonal fruits will be more affordable and an assurance that one eats fresh fruit rather than packaged, processed or preserved stuff. Fruits are best eaten raw, as they lose much of their nutritional value when cooked.

When Should we Eat Fruits?

The best time to eat fruits is first thing in the morning after a glass of water. There are some nutritional claims that fruit should not be eaten along with other foods. This is because they believe that when fruits are eaten with other foods, they stay longer in the stomach and ferment the other digested foods, causing gas and indigestion. Another claim is that the body has trouble digesting the carbohydrates in fruit when in combination with other foods. Even though this is not supported by the science, natural hygienists believe that fruits don’t combine well with other foods. The reason is that fruit contains simple sugars that require no digestion, and hence don’t stay for a long time in the stomach, whereas foods rich in fat, protein and starch, stay in the stomach for a longer period of time because they take more time to digest. Therefore when you eat fruit after or along with a meal, the fruit sugar stays longer in the stomach and ferments. You need to leave a gap of at least 30 minutes between a meal and a fruit snack. Ideally, one should eat fruits an hour before the meal or two hours after, if they have diabetes or any other digestive problem like acidity.