Fruits are undoubtedly beneficial to our entirety as humans in many ways, and some yet undiscovered. The eating of fresh fruits coupled with other factors kept our great grandparents healthy, increased their life span, and kept them looking fresh: these all point to the health benefits of fruits and why we should adopt this culture once more.
Yesterday, my mother brought home a boatload of oranges and African star apple, and to my surprise, she consumed six African star apples right there in my presence. Do you know what she said after eating? “You better eat these to keep your vitamin-C levels up, as they are the best source of vitamin-C.” I pondered on these words for a few minutes, then had three of the apples as I low-key felt like six was way too many, haha!
In hospitals and other healthcare systems, fruits are one of the holistic means used in patient’s care. So, rather than buy a box of fruit snacks, the good old homemade fruit box remains the best alternative. Just so you know, an apple a day still keeps the doctor away.
Let’s dive into the health benefits of fruits, and five (5) you shouldn’t take for granted.
FRUITS IN RELATION TO HEALTH
Although including fruits in diet isn’t a new topic, its staggering importance cannot be over-emphasized. Fruits are a complete food group that can reduce the risk of various diseases when taken consistently. They are sometimes combined with vegetables, but this does not reduce the importance of fruits; rather, it enhances it.
One might wonder: “how do fruits affect my health?”
Here’s a breakdown of the benefits of fruits to healthy living and what you do to your body when you eat fruits.
- Nature provides fruits with no artificial additives; therefore, they contain natural, primary, and secondary nutrients that are important to the health and maintenance of your body. Unfortunately, some nutrients found in fruits, which are vital to our health, such as potassium and fiber, are scarce in our daily diet. A lot of the human diet comprises carbohydrates, proteins, and fats with fewer vitamins, fibers, and antioxidants, all of which can be found in fruits.
Did you know that fruits do not contain cholesterol? Yet, a large population of people suffers from cholesterol-related diseases. Imagine if fruits were a significant item in their diet, then there would be no need for the many trips to the hospital.
2. Fruits are popular for their sweetness. As a result, people believe they are harmful to the body, but this is a misconception. The quantity of sugar in fruits is not enough to be harmful, and the process of digestion and metabolism reduces the risk. What makes sugar, particularly fructose to be harmful is the negative metabolic effect when consumed in large quantities. In contrast, when you eat fruits, the process of metabolism is slow, and therefore, it enters the bloodstream at a low rate, which quells the negative metabolic effect of fructose.
3. Fruits with a higher amount of skin are more nutritious, no matter the size. The skins of fruits are incredibly rich in fibers and antioxidants. Fruits like berries are healthier because of their high amount of skin, even though they are small. Different fruits have different nutrients and in varying amounts. It’s important to not just focus on a particular class of fruit but eat the varieties, so the number of nutrients taken in can balance out.
4. It is also crucial to note that eating whole fruits is relatively better than drinking (fruity drinks and juice). When you eat whole fruits, you reduce the rate at which the sugar (fructose) enters the body and also the digestion rate. When there is a reduction in the digestion rate, there is a feeling of being full, which restricts craving another meal. Hence, eating fruits can also be a way to lose weight by reducing the quantity of food you eat.
5. Finally, most fruity drinks and juices commercially produced are not 100% natural. They contain a lot of artificial sugar, sweeteners, and preservatives. This already goes against the idea of taking fruits for health reasons.
BENEFITS OF FRUITS OVER DRUGS
Hippocrates said, “let food be thy medicine, and medicine be thy food.”
This asserts that the importance of a good diet in the general well-being of an individual has been discovered right from the beginning! The key to living healthy is not far-fetched and can be traced down to our diet. Your body relies heavily on what you give to it.
The body carries out hemostasis through various metabolic activities by making use of the available nutrients. There are a lot of reasons why you fall sick and need a doctor; one of which is when your body is unable to maintain a conducive internal environment because it is lacking in essential nutrients. Thankfully, this knowledge can actively be corrected by a change in the diet rather than drugs.
According to Chemistry, drugs are chemical compounds, produced artificially to either change or restrict some physiological processes. All drugs contain active and inactive ingredients, which come with various risks. The active ingredient of a drug can cause dependence or addiction, especially those that have a short half-life, while the inactive ingredients are most times allergens, that can cause severe allergic reactions.
Here, eating fruits is generally safer as a preventive and sometimes corrective medium to several illnesses. Prevention, they say, is better than cure.
Clearly, medical practitioners have been trying in recent times to educate the masses on the importance of a combined diet of fruits and veggies. An example is Wholesome Wave, which is a Connecticut-based Nonprofit Organization, that has been collaborating with medical practitioners to prescribe fruits and vegetables to children, who are at risk of developing diseases such as diabetes, high blood pressure, and other diet-related diseases. We also strongly believe in this movement!
It’s not that fruits work better than drugs, but fruits prevent the need for drugs because they inhibit harmful processes and maintain positive body health.
CERTAIN FRUITS AND THEIR HEALTH BENEFITS
Antioxidants are substances that prevent oxidation. They prevent/reduce damage to cells caused by free radicals, which may be crucial to the prevention and control of heart diseases, cancer, among others.
Berries are incredibly rich in antioxidants because of their enormous amount of skin. Not only do berries have high anti-inflammatory properties that aid the body in fighting against infections, but they also help to strengthen metabolic processes.
Berries boost immunity and also protect the blood-brain barrier. Blueberries, in particular, are said to protect the DNA and slow down mental decline.
Statistically, on the satiety index, oranges and apples are the most filling fruits on Earth, as they score very high on the scale. When you take oranges, you automatically lose the appetite for another meal, which makes them great for appetite control. Oranges are also relatively low in calories but high in fibers. The former aids weight loss, while the latter aids digestive processes.
Oranges have been known to reduce the risk of cancer, blood pressure, cholesterol, and blood sugar. It is also great in the prevention of skin damage and improves the immune system.
Fun fact: oranges are a great source of vitamin-C. Oh well, you knew that already, haha!
Pineapples are rich in Vitamin C (shockingly) and B, and these vitamins are crucial for pregnant women. It also contains bromelain, which has the ability to breakdown proteins, and therefore aid digestion. From research, I also found out that bromelain can reduce belly fat.
Pineapples are greatly beneficial for the aged population because they reduce arthritis and inflammatory responses in the body. It also has good anti-oxidative properties.
Both ripe and unripe plantains are highly rich in minerals, fiber, and vitamins, with the potential to serve as a healing agent for diabetes. The high-fiber content aids in its usage in weight loss and better digestion, while the vitamins act as antioxidants to keep our immune system healthy.
Unripe plantain proves to be more beneficial because it contains less sugar, and it’s high in fiber. Depending on your age bracket, an unripe plantain could be recommended over a ripe one. Regardless, each version has its nutritional and health values/importance.
Every part of a papaya tree is relevant to our health in its distinct ways. The leaf (squeezed) mixed with milk is a natural herbal blood tonic, and the unripe type is a great treatment for malaria and typhoid.
Ripe papaya fruit has many benefits, and research shows it helps in reducing cancer agents in the body. They also contain an antioxidant called carotenoids, coupled with the enzyme papain that has great anti-aging properties.
As the new generation, the decision to be health-conscious should be a daily commitment. New junk, processed foods, sweets, and many more are constantly introduced to us, but if we decide to prioritize our health before anything else, we can send these companies who are unconcerned about our safety out of business.
Remember, every fruit has one vital benefit or the other, and if we honestly can do our research, and eat fruits that are beneficial to our health, our generation can also boast of a longer life span, and better body health.