WHY IS FRESH FRUIT SO GOOD FOR YOU?





Much is said about the importance of maintaining a decent amount of fruit and vegetables in our diets, and even the government is in on the act promoting ‘5 a day’ every day. But what is it about fresh fruit that make it so good for us?

We know that the human physique has been evolving over hundred of thousands of years and perhaps part of our success on this planet is due to our ability to make do with a wide variety of foods.

Typically, we would have survived on diets consisting mainly of berries, fruits, nuts, roots and leaves, but there would have been the odd fish, bird, reptile and occasional handful of insects thrown in (some of these insects would of course have been ingested unwittingly).

Fresh fruit consists mainly of water, carbohydrates and a small amount of protein. More importantly, they also contain very little - if any - fat. In fact most fruits will contain less than one gram of fat per serving, although Avocados are an exception to this containing about 31 grams of fat per fruit.

The carbohydrates found within fresh fruit are available to us in the form of starches and sugars (fructose, sucrose and glucose), and along with the small amounts of fat are – or at least should be - the primary sources of energy in the human diet.

Many fruits are also able to provide valuable folic acid and magnesium. Folic acid is essential for a number of chemical processes in the body, although most notably for the synthesis of haemoglobin and the nucleic acids DNA and RNA. Magnesium is essential for cellular metabolism, protein digestion, and the healthy function of the nervous system.

As well as being an important source for vital vitamins and minerals, fresh fruit is a food source that contains no cholesterol, little or no sodium, and is an excellent resource for dietary fibre. The term fibre - sometimes known as roughage - is commonly used to describe the indigestible portion of plant foods (skin, seeds and pulp) that helps to ‘push’ food through the digestive system. It also forms bulk for the stool.

It is important to eat foods that are high in fibre because they help to promote normal bowel function. In addition to this, fibre is also very useful in the prevention and treatment of constipation. Research from Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology (FASEB) recommends that a healthy adult should have an intake of fibre equivalent to 20 - 35 grams per day. However, further research by the USDA – United States Department of Agriculture - showed that the average intake of both men and women is around half this amount.
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Diets that are high in cholesterol, and in fat - especially saturated fats - can contribute to increased cholesterol levels within the blood. This in turn can significantly increase the risk of heart disease. However, there is some indication that dietary fibre can also play a role in helping to lower blood cholesterol.

If further proof were needed the taste organs within the human mouth are genetically pre-disposed to prefer sweet tastes over bitter ones. This ability is in fact an ancient one and common with many mammals, it helps to protect us from selecting foods that may include bitter-tasting, harmful toxins. The fact that we naturally enjoy and seek out sweet fruits is just further proof that they are perfectly suited to our bodily needs.

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