Fruit with its antioxidant content is valuable for our health. Let's see which fruit to choose and when it is more appropriate to eat it
The snacks that the food industry has accustomed us to have a decidedly sweet taste. In this regard we speak of bliss point. This expression literally translated means "point of bliss" and consists of a well-balanced mix of fats and sugars such as to send our taste buds into ecstasy. It is because of this stratagem that everyone, some more and some less, experience a strong attraction for sweets.
The point is that the most suitable dessert for our metabolic system is precisely that of fruit. Let's find out why.
- Because it is good
- Which one to choose
- When to eat it
Because it is good
The caloric value of fruit is mostly linked to the sugar content (sucrose, fructose and glucose in varying proportions depending on the degree of ripeness). In addition to the calories of sugars, fruit also provides:
- a good quantity of fibers that become nourishment for intestinal bacteria;
- a good amount of antioxidants;
- a good quantity of vitamins and mineral salts;
- a good amount in water.
The fibers contained in the fruit promote intestinal transit by counteracting constipation. Since we do not have the enzymes responsible for their digestion, the fibers reach the colon (the last tract of the intestine) unaltered, where they become the nourishment of the resident bacterial flora. Therefore bacteria, unlike us, are able to draw energy from dietary fibers and as a waste product synthesize short-chain fatty acids. Among these, butyric acid is used as nourishment by the cells that line the colon (colonocytes) and acts at the same time as an anti-inflammatory and anti-tumor molecule.
The plants protect themselves from aggressions coming from the outside world (atmospheric agents, molds and phytophagous insects) through the production of particular molecules with an antioxidant action which are given the name of secondary metabolites or xenormetic substances. Interestingly, plants that are stressed have higher concentrations of xenormetic molecules. On the contrary, plants grown in greenhouses end up devoting all their energy to growth. Kept in optimal conditions of temperature and humidity, well irrigated and fertilized, protected in various ways from the harmful action of insects, these plants only have to do one thing: grow even if they are poor in nutritional value.
The advice for us is to consume very colorful foods daily because xenormetic substances are often yellow, red, orange or blue and what is more colorful than fruit? The antioxidant power of foods of plant origin is directly related to the content of secondary metabolites and is calculated in ORAC units. ORAC is an acronym that stands for Oxygen Radicals Absorbance Capacity. In order to counteract the action of free radicals, it is recommended to make a daily intake of antioxidants equal to 5000 ORAC units. Fruit makes this task extremely easy for us since, for example, 100 grams of plums exceed 5700 ORAC Units.
Fruit contributes to the supply of vitamins and mineral salts. Among the vitamins that fruit is rich in should be mentioned
- Vitamin C essential for collagen synthesis and able to neutralize free radicals;
- vitamin A essential for vision, embryogenesis, growth, normal development and differentiation of tissues and the immune response;
- Vitamin E capable of counteracting the oxidation of polyunsaturated fatty acids (Polynsaturated Fatty Acids or PUFAs) present in membrane phospholipids and plasma lipoproteins.
Mineral salts play the role of cofactors of enzymatic reactions. Among these should be mentioned:
- calcium, essential for coagulation, for muscle contraction, for the regulation of vascular tone, for the transmission of the nerve impulse and for hormonal secretion;
- iron, essential for the transport and use of oxygen in the body and for the functioning of many enzymes;
- magnesium, the main intracellular cation, critical element for maintaining the membrane potential of muscle cells and nerve cells and cofactor of more than 300 enzymatic reactions;
- manganese, essential in bone formation, participates in some biochemical reactions related to the metabolism of amino acids, cholesterol and carbohydrates;
- phosphorus, a fundamental constituent of bone tissue, a component of nucleic acids, nucleotides and phospholipids, involved in the regulation of acid-base balance;
- sodium, the main extracellular cation, takes part in the regulation of the hydro-electrolyte balance and blood pressure;
- zinc, essential for growth and development, is a component of numerous enzymes, facilitates and preserves the structure of many proteins and regulates the expression of many genes.
Which one to choose
The fruit to choose is that of the season, richer in nutritional value. A portion of fruit is equivalent to about 150 grams net of waste. The caloric intake is quite low and ranges from 89 kcal per 100 grams of the banana to 28 kcal of the yellow melon. The calories of fruit are related to its content in simple sugars, glucose and fructose. Glucose and fructose are the same components as cane sugar. But between the fruit and the sugar that we add to our drinks there is a substantial difference: in fruit we find vitamins, antioxidants, minerals, fibers and a large amount of water that lowers energy density and elevates the satiating power. It is therefore understandable why fruit is not contraindicated in the right quantities either in those who want to lose weight or in patients with impaired glycemic control (pre-diabetes, diabetes).
When to eat it
There are many who wonder when to eat fruit. There is a widespread idea that fruit at the end of a meal is not the right choice. By virtue of its high nutritional value, fruit is good for any time of the day. It can be consumed for breakfast together with a white yogurt, in snacks alone or combined with nuts (walnuts, almonds, hazelnuts…). If consumed at the end of a meal, fruit can bring various benefits. In the presence of a mixed nutritional substrate (made up of carbohydrates, proteins and fats) the simple sugars of the fruit are released more slowly into the blood. The presence of vitamin C helps to absorb the iron present in the other courses that make up the meal. Secondary metabolites protect the digestive tract from oxidative damage. The fibers and vegetation water contribute to the sense of satiety. Finally, the mildly sweet taste satisfies our palate and induces us to stop eating.
Fruit is an excellent food and should be eaten every day according to the season. The quantity must be in proportion to the caloric needs of each individual. According to the World Health Organization, the ideal would be to consume two portions of fresh fruit and three portions of vegetables throughout the day. This dietary habit allows us to fully satisfy the need for dietary fiber and micronutrients
- Diet with cauliflower, helps to lose weight and protects the brain
- Diet with dried figs, get your fill of antioxidants. But beware of calories
- Diet with beets, get your fill of vitamin K and lose weight
- Diet with potatoes, rich in resistant starch to control blood sugar
- Parsnip diet, get your fill of fiber and vitamin K.