Eat Healthy : Pick up fruit for a quick pick up

If you are thirsty, need a quick pick-me-up or satisfaction of sweet craving; and your body craves for that extra nutrition, instead of opting for a pack of juice with select nutrients, just pick up a fruit with all of them, and take a luscious bite of life It is 8 am and you are still in bed. The alarm clock ‘forgot’ to ring as usual and you groan as today is yet another day for you to go without breakfast. Fifteen minutes later you’re dressed. Grabbing your laptop case, you make a dash for the door, lingering for a few minutes at the kitchen counter. You are tempted by the array of fruits in the basket, but due to time, or lack thereof, you decide instead to take a tetra pack of the very same and hasten towards work. Probably the commercial of a fruit juice manufacturer influenced you to consider not only its holistic and nutritional value, but also approve of it as being a worthy substitute to that tiny fruit you were advised to eat every day. However, what really put the cat in the bag was the option of drinking your fruit and having it too – the mere convenience of it. The inconvenient truth, however, is that regardless of the type and make of the fruit juice, the essential and most vital nutrients come from its whole. A fruit pressed or squeezed to make juice loses most of its nutritional value in addition to fibre and some water soluble vitamins. The fruit juice that has lost its fibre and large amounts of nutrients is basically just a concentrated source of sugar and is deficient in nutrients that in whole fruits supplement digestion and metabolise. Although fruits originally contain an ample amount of fibre, the commercial juicing process separates the juice from the fibre such that the juice ends up containing little or none of it. Thus, numerous health benefits such as aid in absorption of nutrients, boost in colon health and reduction in the risk of colon cancer, low cholesterol, and prevention of constipation provided by fibre are lost. This creates a deficiency of this nutrient in the diet of a person who chooses fruit juices over whole fruits on a regular basis. Even though fruit juices have nearly zilch nutritional advantage over actual fruits, they are artificially fortified to combat other nutrient deficiencies. Some fruit juices are fortified with vitamin C, D, calcium, potassium etc. This is extremely beneficial to lactose intolerant individuals, as Vitamin D and calcium play a significant role in bone strength and can be absorbed from 100-percent fruit juice, instead of dairy products. For example, juices such as that made of orange, can be fortified with Vitamin D to serve as an oral supplement to maintain the vitamin D levels in adults. But that can be managed with sunlight or vitamin supplements. However, a large number of fruit juices that are sold commercially, contain numerous added sweeteners (sucrose or high fructose corn syrup), as opposed to only a small fraction of real fruit juice. This results in consumption of a huge amount of calories without actual nutrition on intake of these beverages even if it is freshly squeezed. Many fruits have a high glycemic index; that is, they contain a high percentage of sugar. Since the sugar content of juices of all fruits is much higher than that of the actual fruit, people end up consuming ‘extra sugar’ which may lead to future problems such as increase in blood sugar and worsening of glycemic control. In addition to this, some fruits have edible skins (eg: apples, strawberries, grapes etc.) which are important for biological activities - they are one of the sections of the fruit which interact with sunlight that create coloured pigments that absorb different wavelengths of light. These pigments include carotenoids which are basic metabolism-building blocks and flavonoids, which not only have varied biochemical and antioxidant effects that protect us from various diseases, but also aid numerous metabolic processes. Besides this, the skins of some fruits like grapes have actually been found to have the ability to aid in minimising the risk of cancer and providing protection against the harmful UV rays. Even though fruit juices that are 100-percent natural, contain bioactive compounds called phytochemicals that help fight disease, like any other food, they are a high source of calories and should be prescribed if a high caloric requirement is needed or due to difficulty in chewing or swallowing. Fruit juices are usually prescribed to people suffering from major illnesses who need to increase their sugar intake. In this case too, fresh fruit juices are given preference over canned ones. Usually around 5-6 oranges are used to make a glass juice. If you try eating the same amount, it’s obvious which choice will be more filling. However, if you would still rather drink the fruit rather than eat it, a healthier option would be fruit smoothies as they have comparatively higher fibre content. Besides, a smoothie is more filling and extremely easy to make. For a banana and peach smoothie, take half a banana and two peeled peaches. Throw the mix into the blender along with a few cubes of ice. Blend for about two minutes and you’re good to go!  Image Link Flickr, Source: The Hans India

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