Quick intro: This is one in a series of Longevity Food – List of food to include to increase longevity.
The next food in the list of longevity food is fruits.
Yes! Fruits are also a part of the diet among the healthiest living people around the world. You got me right, the fruit is part and they enjoy eating rather than worrying about the calorie intake, weight gain and other such common issues highlighted by some diets.
Some of the common concerns are…
- A calorie is calories,
- Fruits are loaded with calories,
- Calorie intake from fruit initiate weight gain and other health problem,
- Consuming fruit will slow down the weight loss progress.
These are few concerns or excuse to avoid fruit, nature’s best gift.
Today major modern diets are focused on eliminating fruits. To make their point valid calories are blamed.
If the comparison is with fruit juice, then it’s not a fair comparison. Nature never invented fruit juice one can’t blame the sweet invention.
Whole fruit isn’t same as fruit juice, or canned fruit, or fruits which are altered to remove nutrients or add an ingredient.
The biggest concern — Processing and alteration of its nutritional value. Whole fruit wasn’t ever a concern, but some diet takes the support of fruit to gain some authority.
Skip fruit and you will skip the healthiest food provided by nature. While the people considering it healthiest will enjoy the taste and receive nutrients (especially fruit contains), you will lose everything just to lose weight. Losing weight and maintaining a healthy weight is possible even with consuming fruit in the diet.
Fad diet and tips make tough to snap out from misconceptions.
When you have gone through many dietary rules and regulation it will be tough to snap out from those misconceptions easily.
The first reason:
The longest and healthiest people’s love fruit, when they are enjoying without any negative impact, you will get the same result.
The term — If you want the benefits of fruit like them, then eat like them.
If you believe the claim of eating canned fruit or drinking fruit juice (industrially prepared or homemade, both), you won’t be able to get those benefits.
You will learn more in-depth on how to eat fruit to get maximum benefits and stay away from the health issue caused due to dependency on processed fruits.
The second reason:
Listen to research before quitting fruit.
When research proves that eating fruits is healthy, avoiding them will you devoid of healthy nutrients they possess.
Let’s look over the reason to eat fruit.
1. They are Rich In Nutrients
There are lots of fruit with their own combination of nutrients. Instead of their nutrient variation, they are a great source of nutrients.
Fruits are naturally low in sodium, fat, calories (which most are afraid) and none have cholesterol.
Fat: Fat is the most feared nutrients although they are good. Fruits have the lowest amount of fat and no harmful fat like trans fat. Few fruits contain polyunsaturated fat (Omega-3 and Omega-6).
Sodium: One of the reasons to include fruit is its low sodium while high potassium content. If you quit unhealthy processed food you will cut the sodium intake and increase the intake of healthy nutrients.
Calories: Each fruits calorie content differs but they won’t provide more than 100 calories if you ate 1 cup of fruit. Most of the fruit content is water while other remains are fiber, a small amount of carbohydrate, protein, and dense nutrients.
182 grams of Apple contains only 94.6 calories. (1)
148 grams of Pears contains only 85.8 calories. (2)
148 grams of Blueberries contain only 84.4 calories. (3)
100 grams of Persimmon contains only 70 calories. (4)
1 small Banana (118g) contains only 89.9 calories. (5)
Only, 28 grams of Potato chips (without salt, reduced fat) contains 136 calories. (6)
You can get the idea. Calorie intake goes down when you choose fruits over potato chips or other processed foods.
Cholesterol: No fruits contain cholesterol but they contain cholesterol-lowering fiber and phytonutrients.
Fruits are the source of some of healthiest yet under-consumed nutrients including potassium, dietary fiber, vitamin C, and folate (folic acid).
Potassium is a very important nutrient for heart health and to balance the electrolyte level. The rate of heart disease is rising and among those reasons is low potassium intake and high sodium level.
The nutrients profile isn’t limited to these nutrients.
They provide vitamins like Vitamin A, vitamin D, vitamin E, vitamin K, Thiamin, Riboflavin, Niacin, vitamin B6, vitamin B12, Pantothenic acid, Choline, and Betaine.
They provide minerals like Calcium, Iron, Magnesium, Phosphorus, Zinc, Copper, Manganese and Selenium.
Every fruit has different nutritional value, so its recommended to eat varieties.
Wrap up: Fruits are a great source of nutrients, and with low calorie, sodium, cholesterol, and fat.
2. Great Source of Antioxidant and Phytonutrient
The nutrients mentioned earlier were the nutrients you usually get those from every natural food you eat. But those aren’t the only nutrient they provide.
Fruits (even vegetables) are a dense source of antioxidant and phytonutrients.
Fruits contain antioxidants like vitamin A, vitamin C, vitamin E, vitamin K, and other nutrients which also possess antioxidants property.
Antioxidant protects from free radical and inflammation. Free radical and inflammation damages healthy cells which increase the risk of chronic diseases like heart disease, cancer, diabetes, neurodegenerative disease, to name few.
With enough fruit in the daily diet, you will meet the recommended antioxidant intake and stay protected from chronic diseases.
Antioxidants aren’t just the nutrients present in fruits. They are also loaded with phytonutrients, which are only present in plant food.
Phytonutrients are mostly available in the skin, thus juicing degrade the nutritional value.
There are many other reasons to eat whole fruit but for now, concentrate on phytonutrients stored in the skin.
There are varieties of fruit available and each fruit has its own set of phytonutrients.
Lots of research are done to prove their potential benefits on health and their protective effect against chronic diseases.
Phytonutrients are the plant’s chemicals those responsible to protect plants from damage from highly active oxygen, and also from insects.
These phytonutrients when ingested, provide antioxidant and anti-inflammatory property.
You can have a look over the antioxidants content of apple, blueberries and persimmon fruit.
The more fruits you enjoy the more varieties of phytonutrients you will receive.
Apple: There are dozens of phenols and polyphenols that an apple contains which gives it antioxidant property. (7)
- Anthocyanins (red varieties only) – cyanidin galactosides, cyaniding arabinosides
- Dihydrochalcones – phloretin, phloridzin
- Flavonols – catechins, epicatechins, procyanidins
- Flavonols and flavonol glycosides – quercetin, isoquercetin, kaempferol, rutin, reinutrin, hyperoside
- Hydroxycinnamic acid derivatives – caffeic acid, chlorogenic acid, coumaric acid
Blueberries: The key phytonutrients of Blueberries are: (8)
- Anthocyanins – malvidins, delphinidins, pelargonidins, cyanidins, peonidins, petunidin
- Hydroxycinnamic acids and derivatives – caffeic acids, ferulic acids, coumaric acids
- Hydroxybenzoic acids and derivatives – gallic acids, protocatechuic acids
- Flavonols – kaempferol, quercetin, myricetin
- Flavan-3-ols – catechin
- Stilbenoids (phytoalexins) – pterostilbene, resveratrol
Persimmon Fruit: The Hidden Phytonutrients present in a whole persimmon fruit are: (9)
- Phenolic compounds
- Proanthocyanidins (PAs)
- Oleanolic acid (OA) and ursolic acid (UA)
Blackberries: Let’s have a look the blackberries polyphenolic compositions. (10)
- Flavonols and Flavons: Kaempferol glycosides, Quercetin glycosides, Myricetin glycosides
- Anthocyanins: Cyanidin glycosides, Pelargonidin glycoside, Peonidin glycosides
- Phenolic acids and Hydrolyzable tannins: Ellagic acid and its glycosides, Ellagitannin, Gallic acid, and galloyl esters, p-coumaric acid and coumaroyl glycosides
Fruits are surely a dense source of nutrients, yet are avoided due to tall claims made by some diet.
These phytonutrients don’t just provide antioxidant and anti-inflammatory activity, each phytonutrient is helpful in many ways.
You don’t need to worry about the phytonutrients and their function, just focus on eating a few servings of fruit daily. Each fruit has its own taste, flavor and nutritional value so prefer to enjoy varieties rather than depending only on a single fruit.
Wrap up: With varieties of antioxidants and phytonutrients, eating fruits boost the antioxidants and anti-inflammatory activity. Fruits skin and pulp are the dense sources of phytonutrients.
3. Great Source of Fiber
A sweet craves yet want a healthy option, choose sweet delicacies, fruit.
It’s not just sweet but also a good source of fiber.
The phytonutrients present in the fruit’s peel or skin isn’t only the reason to eat fruit. Eating the skin you can increase your fiber intake to make sure you meet your daily recommended fiber need.
You might have heard about the blood sugar surge issue with fruit intake, but the thought of concern should be with fruit juice devoid of fiber, not the whole fruit.
When you eat a whole fruit, you receive a small amount of sugar with satiety nutrient fiber. These fibers make fruit healthy as they slow down the absorption of sugar while lower the appetite by improving satiety.
With increased satiety, your fruit intake will be lower compared to juice intake. You can gulp 2-3 apple juice without the feeling of satiety while you will feel more satisfied with consuming a whole apple.
The loss of fiber in fruit juice is responsible for increased intake of calorie while with no nutrients to slow down the absorption the sugar is faster.
You can get the actual culprit or the real problem.
A whole fruit won’t harm your health or weight loss rate, its the processing of fruit do as you dump the important nutrients from fruit.
Fiber has a crucial importance in our health. If you are eating veggies, beans and also the fruit, the intake of fiber increases and so the protection from chronic diseases.
Don’t say no to whole fruit, but say no to fruit juice. If you are planning to add fruit smoothies in your diet, then there is no need to worry as they contain the whole fruit without any loss of fiber.
Wrap up: The fiber content of fruit makes it the healthiest food. If you want to enjoy the complete benefit of fruit prefer to eat the whole fruit. Whole fruit is healthy as they aren’t processed to remove the satiety nutrient, fiber. Loss of fiber will have a negative effect on health and weight loss goal.
4. Protect from Heart Disease
Heart disease is the no 1 killer around the world.
It may be the most common health problem, yet they can be tackled with a slight change to diet.
Diet high in fruits and vegetable are associated with lower cardiovascular disease risk.
Some of the common factor increasing the risk of heart disease are: (11)
- High LDL “Bad” cholesterol
- Low antioxidant protecting activity
- High blood pressure
- High homocysteine level in the blood
Handle these factors and you will lower the risk of heart disease and also recover from heart disease.
1. Tackle the Cholesterol Level and Damage From Oxidation
Cholesterol has an important role yet excess doesn’t do any good for health. (12)
Yet, there are few studies that claim high cholesterol doesn’t have an impact on heart health. (13)
There are many controversial results of cholesterol but one thing is sure, cholesterol may be good but excess won’t be healthy.
High cholesterol level in blood is the reason for the oxidation and buildup of plague leads to atherosclerosis responsible for heart disease.
Eating fruit can lower the LDL cholesterol and the high antioxidants protect from oxidation. The antioxidants activity in the blood lowers the damage to arteries preventing hardening of arteries.
Fiber absorbs excess cholesterol in the intestine and excretes it. With low cholesterol absorption, the level of LDL cholesterol lowers, bringing back to a healthy level.
With low cholesterol and high antioxidant activity, the risk of plague buildup lower and so the heart disease risk.
2. Lowers Blood Pressure
High blood pressure also called as Hypertension. It put strains on blood vessels and heart. Over time, extra strain on blood vessel and heart increase the risk of heart attack and stroke.
One of the common reason for increased blood pressure is high sodium intake.
Fruits and vegetable are a rich source of potassium, a nutrient required to balance sodium-potassium level in the body to bring blood pressure to a normal level. (14)
Consumption of fruit rich in flavonoids increase nitric acid production. High nitric acid expands the blood vessels and improves the blood flow thus lowering the blood pressure. (15)
Lower cholesterol is also found to increase the rate of nitric production and cleanup of plaque in arteries. (16)
3. Lower Homocysteine Level in Blood
Build up homocysteine in the blood vessels increase the risk of the heart problem. (17)
Homocysteine is a common protein found on blood. Meat is the primary source of homocysteine.
There are many more nutrients available in fruits responsible for a healthier heart. All these combinations of nutrients lower the risk factors and improve the functioning of the heart.
With reduced risk factors and improved arteries functioning, the risk of heart disease lowers while it is also beneficial for people suffering from cardiovascular disease.
The reason fruits are beneficial against cardiovascular disease. (21)
- Lower blood pressure
- Lower blood lipids
- Lower platelets reactivity
- Lower Insulin Resistance Damage
- Reduce oxidative stress
- Reduce Inflammation
- Improves endothelial function
Wrap up: Fruits are a complete package of healthy heart nutrients. Missing them from the diet can lower the intake of heart-healthy nutrients thus increase the risk.
5. Protects From Cancer
Cancer is the most dreadful disease and takes millions of lives every year worldwide.
Treatment of cancer at an earlier stage is possible yet the medication process is unbearable and makes the life tough for the survivor.
The risk of cancer increases with increased chronic oxidation and chronic inflammation.
Chronic oxidative stress increases the production of free radicals which are responsible for the damage of healthy cells. As one cell is damaged, the process continues making healthy cells abnormal. With continues damage due to free radicals and inflammation, abnormal cells divide uncontrollably and destroy body cells.
These abnormal divisions of cells and damage of healthy cells are known as cancer.
If you are planning to stay protected from the earlier damage to cells and the spread of cancer, you should have a healthy diet. A diet rich in antioxidant and anti-inflammatory compounds controls the oxidative stress and inflammation.
Antioxidants and anti-inflammatory compounds keep a healthy level of free radicals and inflammation. They neutralize the free radicals and calm down the inflammation before they do any damage.
Fruits and vegetable are dense source antioxidants and phytonutrients making them healthier food to protect from cancer.
An Italian study on Mediterranean populations found that fruit and vegetable consumption appears to provide protection from cancer.
Nutrients broadly studied on their effectivity to provide protection from cancer are dithiolthiones, isothiocyanates, indole-3-carbinol, allium compounds, isoflavones, protease inhibitors, saponins, phytosterols, inositol hexaphosphate, vitamin C, D-limonene, lutein, folic acid, beta carotene, lycopene, selenium, vitamin E, flavonoids, and dietary fiber. (22)
Yet they are found to kill cancer cell but can’t cure cancer. But those studies prove the potential of nutrients in the prevention of cancer.
Antioxidant and phytonutrients are the best bet to provide protection from cancer are due to their effectivity to provide protection from oxidative stress and inflammation. With lower damage to the cell, the risk lowers.
Fruits and vegetables are the best food to lower the risk of cancer.
People living in the Blue Zone diet is rich in vegetable and fruits, and have the lowest risk of cancer. The cancer-protective benefit is due to their dependency on whole food.
Lots of studies have been done to prove the anti-cancer effect of the fruit. It’s no doubt with high anti-cancer nutrients they are a great addition to diet and stay protected from cancer.
You may not treat cancer with fruits but you can stay protected from the leading factors that stimulate the progression and growth of cancer.
Wrap up: With high antioxidant and anti-inflammatory compound in fruits, they provide protection against the development of cancer.
6. Improves Digestion
Fruits are a good source of fiber, insoluble and soluble fiber.
Insoluble fiber adds bulk to stool and prevents constipation. Fruits are the best food to get relief from constipation and other digestive issues.
With bulk in the stool, there is an improvement in bowel movement helping to improve detoxification.
The soluble fiber in fruits proves very crucial for digestive health. They slow down the digestion of food keeping full for long, and they are the food for the healthy bacteria in the gut.
The insoluble and soluble fiber works together to improves digestion and overall digestive system health.
While fiber is not the only reason fruits are helpful in restoring digestive health.
Mango – Contains digestive enzymes known as amylases, which break down carbs into sugars like glucose and maltose and improves the absorption. (30)
Banana – Contains digestive enzymes amylases and glucosidases, which break down carbs into sugars. (31)
Avocado – Contains digestive enzyme lipase, helps to digest fat making earlier to absorb fat. (32)
Kiwifruit – Contain digestive enzyme actinidain, which help to digest protein. (33)
With a good source of fiber, they also contain the digestive enzyme which helps to digest and absorbs protein, carb, and fat. With better digestion and absorption you absorb more nutrients from each meal.
While the gut bacteria feeding on soluble fiber also improves the absorption of nutrients.
Wrap up: Insoluble and soluble fiber in fruits supports a healthy digestive system. With the digestive enzyme, they prove to be a complete food for digestive health.
7. Help To Manage Diabetes
Diabetes is the most important concern among people.
People with or without diabetes are afraid of the sugar content in the fruits. They judge fruit only on the basis of its sugar content.
If they look at the fruit, they aren’t just a source of sugar.
The fact is the opposite.
Fruits contain a good amount of fiber, vitamin, minerals, and phytonutrients. With an abundant source of nutrient, fruits are only judged for its sugar content.
The sugar content of food can be a concern if you:
- Remove peel (source of fiber, and phytonutrients)
If you aren’t doing the above two mistake then you are safe from the risk of blood sugar surge and thus from diabetes.
Let’s have a look at how fruit in the diet isn’t bad, while it can cut the risk of diabetes.
Fruits contain calories but are less than any snack you may eat. Eating other snacks won’t provide fiber and healthy nutrients.
Satiety and Slow Digestion:
The fiber content in fruit make them a healthier snacking option for diabetes patients or improving the health condition for diabetes patient.
The fiber in fruit is responsible for slow digestion and release of sugar, preventing any sugar surge.
Fiber is known for the satiety effect. With better satiety, you won’t feel the need to eat more or eat a large serving of fruit.
Increased insulin sensitivity:
With a long period of excess insulin, the risk of diabetes increases due to insulin resistance.
Insulin resistance (IR) is a pathological condition in which cells fail to respond normally to the hormone insulin, resulting in increased blood sugar.
Insulin resistance can be a sign of prediabetes. As cells are not able to respond normally to insulin, there will be a need for more insulin. With the increased demand for insulin, pancreases have to work harder to supply enough insulin. The excess stress on pancreases damages the beta cells whose role is to produce insulin.
With insulin resistance and increasing damage to pancreatic beta cells, the risk of Type 2 Diabetes increases with passing day.
If some have insulin resistance, the risk of type 2 diabetes increases, but it’s not necessary.
You can fight back type 2 diabetes by increasing insulin sensitivity. Better the cell responses to insulin, lower will the insulin need while lowering the burden on pancreatic beta cells.
That’s about insulin resistance and the start of Type 2 Diabetes development…
If insulin resistance can increase the type 2 diabetes risk, improvement in insulin sensitivity can cut the risk.
If you had been said that fruit increase the risk of diabetes then have a look over their beneficial effect on keeping away the diabetes risk.
While the phytonutrient anthocyanin can stimulate the secretion of Glucagon-like peptide 1 (GLP-1) in the gut after a meal. (42)
- encourage the release of insulin from the pancreas
- increase the volume of cells in the pancreas that produce insulin (beta cells)
- hold back glucagon release
- reduce appetite
Each fruit is a good source of fiber and phytonutrients, available in the peel. If you have been removing the beneficial peel of fruit then you can surely increase the risk because you lose the vital nutrients. With the combined activity of nutrients, fruit prove to be healthy.
Yes, fruit juice isn’t good as whole fruit. They will raise blood sugar at a quick rate while won’t improve insulin sensitivity.
That’s a lot of reason to include fruit in your diet.
If you still have a concern with diabetes and fruit then:
- Eat whole fruit instead of juice
- Limit the fruit serving rather than quitting
- Eat with meal
By following those you won’t have any effect on blood sugar, while you will be able to enjoy the fruit and its nutrients.
Wrap up: Fruits are a great source of fiber and phytonutrients. Fiber slowdown the digestion and absorption of calories. While fiber and phytonutrients increase insulin sensitivity to cut the risk of diabetes.
8. Strengthens Bones
A healthy bone supports a stronger and healthier body.
Like other benefits, fruits are dense in nutrients to support a stronger bone.
Fruits contain an adequate amount of nutrients required to build a stronger bone.
Bone formation requires nutrients like calcium, magnesium, phosphorus, vitamin D, potassium, and fluoride.
Vitamins and minerals needed for metabolic processes related to bone, includes manganese, copper, boron, iron, zinc, vitamin A, vitamin K, vitamin C, and B vitamins. (45)
Each nutrient has its own role in building a stronger bone.
Among those nutrients, some of the important nutrients are calcium, vitamin D, vitamin C, vitamin E, vitamin K and magnesium.
- Calcium – The primary nutrients required for bone formation.
- Vitamin D – We need vitamin D to absorb calcium to build bones.
- Vitamin C – Helps to lay down new bone
- Vitamin E – Acts as an antioxidant to fight free radicals destruction of bone.
- Vitamin K – Required for synthesis of osteocalcin and binds calcium to the bone
- Magnesium– It helps to lay down bone mass.
Potassium is often overlooked for bone health, but they play more importance in today’s diet.
Today’s modern diet is rich in acid-forming food which is the reason for weaker bone even the intake of calcium is high.
To neutralize the acid, bone release calcium in the blood to buffer the acid in the absence of potassium.
Potassium is required to keep our body’s optimum acid/base balance, thus, in turn, it helps to keep bone healthy.
Fruits and vegetables are known as an alkaline food. Eating enough fruit and vegetables have found a greater calcium density in bone thus a lower risk of osteoporosis and fractures. (49)
With a wide range of bone-strengthening nutrients, its no doubt that fruits are good for bone health. You don’t just need calcium for stronger bone, you even need to prevent their loss from bone. With a healthy balance of bone forming and bone-protecting nutrients, you will get a stronger bone.
Wrap up: Fruits contains both bone-forming and bone-protecting nutrients, thus maintaining a healthy development of bone and lowers the risk of osteoporosis or bone fracture.
9. Weight Loss Friendly
Fruits are considered weight loss friendly due to their high fiber content.
With high fiber content and slow release of energy, your satiety level will be good for long. (50)
Higher the satiety level lower will be the craving, and so lower will be the craving.
While the sweet and flavourful fruits will be great option to meet sweet tooth need. If you make a healthier choice by adding fruits to your snack, you will increase your nutrients intake while lower the unhealthy processed food intake.
Wrap up: Fruits are high in satiety nutrient fiber. With the increased intake of fiber and natural fruit sugar, the energy level stays stable for long thus preventing unwanted hunger or craving.
10. Eye Health
Want to a healthier eye?
You should focus on adding more vegetables and fruit. They are a great source of nutrients like lutein, zeaxanthin, vitamin C, and vitamin E. (51)
Lutein and Zeaxanthin are carotenoids found in plants and are an important part of the eye retina.
These carotenoids are estimated to absorb 40% to 90% of blue light, thus protects the retina damage from light-related-damage. (52)
These carotenoids are potent antioxidants and can reduce oxidative damage due to high activity and exposure to light. (53, 54)
Vitamin C is potent antioxidants which provide eye antioxidant protection.
High concentration of vitamin C in the eye can help to regenerate another antioxidant such as vitamin E. (55)
Fruits are an abundant source of other antioxidants and phytonutrients which have a protective effect on eye health.
Wrap up: With high antioxidants and phytonutrients, fruits can help in the healthy development of the eye. They provide protection to retina from light-induced damage and oxidative stress.
11. Brain Health
Fruits are dense of the source of antioxidants and phytonutrients, required to provide a neuroprotective effect.
With high antioxidant and phytonutrients, they provide high antioxidant activity will protect brain cell from damage.
Phytonutrients like polyphenols and anthocyanin increase hippocampal plasticity which benefits learning and memory function. (56)
Wrap up: With a different range of nutrients in each fruit, the effects on brain health differs. While to get most benefits from fruit focus on adding more berries as they are a rich source of cognitive boosting phytonutrients.
The benefits that fruits can provide are quite vast. The above-mentioned benefits are just a glimpse. The healthiest and longest living people are fond of fruit, and they enjoy every fruit available.
Consumption of fruits doesn’t have any negative impact until you use it in the right way.
The right way to eat fruit is to eat whole and unprocessed fruit. Processed fruits aren’t the same as real fruit. They are devoid of beneficial nutrients which are found to provide the benefits. If you remove all the beneficial nutrients in fruit, all the thing left is its sugar content and a few nutrients.
While considering that concern, it’s all about fruit juice and packed food.
If you are able to get fresh fruits, enjoy it with your meal. If you aren’t able to get fruit don’t go for pack fruit or packed juice.
Fresh juice isn’t healthy as whole fruit are mentioned earlier due to loss of its beneficial fiber and phytonutrients content. While the juice of the packed fruit is the worst you can drink or give to your family.
Packed juice is just sugar syrup with added fruits flavour, and fruit (just to make nutrient label ethical). There is nothing like healthy about drinking fruit juice. If you think that you will receive natural nutrients from fruit juice then be prepared to load your blood with a sugar rush.
If you want to enjoy fruit then surely do but don’t blame it if your fruit intake is from processed fruit juice.
It’s high time to fall in false claims of packed and processed food, as they are ruining our whole families health. If you believe the message, take charge of your health and your families health, while spreading awareness among your friends, because change starts from you.
Longevity Food – Fruit