When it comes to the health benefits of fruits, there is no denying that an apple a day really does keep the doctor away. Fruits are rich in essential nutrients needed by the body such as antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals. Fruits also contain many phytonutrients, nutrients that are found from plant sources. Studies show that fruits can benefit the health by preventing the risk of numerous health conditions including cancer, stroke, and heart disease. In the food pyramid, fruits are in the second layer of the pyramid alongside vegetables. Studies show that fruits can be eaten in any servings per day but there should be at least 2-4 servings. Fruits should be eaten in variety especially when it comes to color since the nutrients provided by one fruit may differ from another one. A good example would be dark-colored berries like blackberries and blueberries which are rich in the polyphenol antioxidant called anthocyanin while fruits that are orange and yellow in color are better sources of beta carotene. These fruits also contain different types of polyphenol antioxidants, namely cryptoxanthin and zea-xanthin.
Benefits of Eating Healthy Fruits
Eating right does not only involve eating the right kinds of food but also in the right amounts. Fresh fruits are considered to be better than fruit juices even if no sugar is added since the fiber content is kept intact. Below are some reasons why it is good for the health to eat fruits.
- Fruits are low in fat and calories. Diabetics may benefit from regular consumption of fruits even if these contain fructose, a simple type of sugar since most fruits have a low glycemic index (GI). Glycemic index refers to the ability of a food to increase blood sugar levels in the body. Low GI foods are recommended for diabetic patients to prevent spiking in blood sugar. Fruits are also best for people who wish to lose weight since it is low in calories but packed with nutrients needed by the body.
- Fruits are good sources of antioxidants. Antioxidants help reduce damage caused by free radicals in the body. Free radicals cause damage to the cells which can alter cellular function and can even lead to cell death. Free radical damage has been linked to the development of chronic diseases such as heart disease and cancer. Antioxidants do not only prevent free radical damage but also help boost the immune system.
- Fruits are a good source of dietary fiber, specifically soluble fiber. Soluble fiber is known to help reduce the risk for heart disease by decreasing total cholesterol and LDL cholesterol (bad cholesterol) levels in the blood. It also plays a role in better glucose control. Soluble fiber can also help relieve constipation and diarrhea.
When to Eat Fruits
Some people say that fruits are best eaten before a meal for better digestion while some say it should be eaten after a meal. Since fruits contain simple carbohydrates, these tend to be digested quickly especially on an empty stomach and the nutrients are said to be absorbed better by the body. There is no conclusive evidence to support the right time to eat fruits, specifically if it should be before a meal or after a meal. Fruits contain different nutrients and some may be better absorbed by the body if taken after meals while some may be better absorbed on an empty stomach. Some nutrients from fruits also promote absorption of other nutrients from food such as in the case of vitamin C and iron. Iron is best absorbed by the body if taken together with vitamin C so eating fruits like oranges and dark green leafy vegetable after eating iron-rich foods can aid in iron absorption. When it comes to fruit, health experts will agree that it is a nutritious food with many health benefits. There is no reason to be picky when it comes to the right time to eat fruits and it can be a great appetizer or dessert. Fruits are great for individuals trying to lose weight as well as for those looking for ways to improve their health.