By Adebayo Obajemu
Often we have read or heard that “An apple a day, keeps the doctor away”, yes! This is quite true as fruits play a very important role in our lives. History also states that during the early days, humans would often search and live on nature’s wonderful gifts like fruits and vegetables.
They would eat them raw and live. Fruits along with vegetables have always been very essential in the growth and development of human life. Fruits are naturally sweet to taste, low in calories, fat, sodium and cholesterol. They contain many vitamins and nutrients that would reduce risk of various health related problems.
Fruits are rich in fiber which is very essential for the smooth movement of the digestive system. There are some fruits that give body energy as they contain carbohydrates which are the main source of energy. Carbohydrates in fruits are mainly sugar which actually breaks down easily and make a quick source of energy.
Fruits contain at least 90 to 95 percent water which is also an important nutrient. Basically fruit benefits a healthy lifestyle by giving us carbohydrates, fiber and micro-nutrients which aid our bodies to function properly. Fruits give you more energy than sugar or sweets as they contain natural glucose and fructose.
They also contain minerals, vitamins and nutrients that are useful for a healthy life. You can make amazing, mouth-watering and delectable sweets, desserts and juices with fresh fruits. They are easy to cook and digest easily.
Some of the popular and healthy fruits that can be consumed in your everyday meal are apples, banana, grapefruit, mango, orange, strawberry, guava, papaya, watermelon, muskmelon, sweet lime etc
Many Nigerians are not health conscious, and there’s a common belief that the most important thing is taking food. Little do they know that food alone cannot guarantee good health.
According to some health professionals who spoke with BusinessHallmark, fruits are as important as good food if we must maintain healthy living.
According to Dr. Adebisi Adejo, chief medical director of St Anthony Medical Centre, Iju Ishaga, “there are some common fruits available around us that are of immense benefits to our body and can help boost our immunity and make us stay healthy.
“Naturally, there are thousands of fruits available for our consumption that are needed by our body on daily basis. Judging from the current economic situation in the country, the costs of food items and particularly if you must have a meal so rich in balanced diet, are quite expensive.
So, it is advisable for individual household members to look the way of regular high fruits consumption, in order to stay healthy and fit.
According to him, orange is known to have several health benefits and is among the most popular fruits around the world.
Oranges can be taken not only as a snack but also as a major recipe ingredient in various dishes. Nowadays orange juice is an integral part of a healthy breakfast thus promoting a healthy start to the day. They’re mainly available in two categories — sweet and bitter, with the former being the type most commonly consumed.
“Generally, an orange should have smoothly textured skin and be firm and heavy for its size. These will have higher juice content than those that are either spongy or lighter in weight.
He listed the benefits of eating oranges:
High in Vitamin C
He said oranges are an excellent source of vitamin C. One orange contains 116.2 per cent of the daily value for vitamin C. Good intake of vitamin C is associated with a reduced risk of colon cancer as it helps to get of free radicals that cause damage to our DNA.
Healthy immune system
He noted that vitamin C, which is also vital for the proper function of a healthy immune system, is good for preventing colds and preventing recurrent ear infections.
Prevents Skin Damage
“Anti-oxidants in oranges help protect skin from free radical damage known to cause signs of aging. An orange a day can help you look young even at 50!
Keeps Blood Pressure Under Check
“Oranges, being rich in Vitamins B6, help support the production of haemoglobin and also help keep blood pressure under check due to the presence of magnesium.
Controls Blood Sugar Level
“Fibre in oranges helps by keeping blood sugar levels under control thereby making consumption of oranges, a healthy snack for people with diabetes. Moreover, oranges have simple sugars. The natural fruit sugar in oranges, fructose, can help keep blood sugar levels from rising too high after eating.
Its glycemic index is 40 and normally whatever foods fall under 50 are considered to be low in sugar. He, however, cautioned against eating too many oranges in one go. Eating too much can spike insulin and may even lead to weight gain, according to him.
Good for Eye Health
“Oranges are a rich source of carotenoid. The Vitamin A present in them play an important role in keeping the mucus membranes in the eyes healthy. Vitamin A is also responsible to prevent age-related muscular degeneration, which in extreme cases can lead to blindness. It also helps eyes to absorb the light.
Safeguards Against Constipation
“Oranges have both soluble and insoluble fibre. This helps in keeping your intestines and stomach function smooth, preventing irritable bowel syndrome. Additionally, the fibre helps treat constipation.
Dr. Feyisami Obamo, chief medical director of Trust Clinic, Abule Egba also lent his voice to the importance of taking fruits, especially pawpaw also known as papaya. He said Papaya contains dietary fibres , folate, vitamin A, C and E. It also contains small amount of calcium, iron, riboflavin, thiamine and niacin.
“Pawpaw is very rich in antioxidant nutrients flavonoids and carotenes; very high in vitamin C plus A, and low in calories and sodium. It also contains the following:
Vitamin A, Vitamin C, Vitamin E, Calcium, Iron, Riboflavin, Thiamine, Niacin.
“Owing to the above information, he said, it becomes easy to understand why pawpaw is reputed amongst other fruits for being the most beneficial when it comes to health.
“Apple is a power food packed with soluble fibre that helps in controlling insulin levels; cleanses and detoxifies the body, helps in eliminating heavy metals like lead and mercury. The pectin in this red delicious apple fruit helps to reduce cholesterol levels by lowering insulin secretion. An apple has only 50-80 calories and no fat or sodium.
“This fruit is power packed with vitamins C, A and flavonoids and small amounts of iron, calcium and phosphorus. You can eat an apple or add it into your desserts or drink a good glass of juice. Always remember that “An apple a day, keeps the doctor away.
Obamo stated that banana is a very popular and staple fruit that is often eaten by many of us.” Besides being a good source of carbohydrates, fibre, magnesium, vitamin C, potassium and vitamin B6, this fruit boast benefits other benefits.
One amazing thing about banana is that it has a natural sweet taste, cheap to buy and always available throughout the year. It is casually eaten for its taste, texture and gives fullness to the stomach when eaten. This is a caloric dense fruit and makes one feel energetic.
“The potassium and magnesium in this fruit aid in maintaining normal blood pressure and heart protection; while the high potassium content also promotes bone health. It has an antacid effect and is said to protect against stomach ulcers.
According to Adejo, watermelon is an excellent summer fruit to indulge on, fresh, very juicy, and a rich source of nutrients, vitamin and minerals.
“It is also incredibly hydrating as it contains about 92% water hence is naturally low in fat. Watermelon is rich potassium and helps to retain calcium in the body resulting in stronger bones and joints. Overall there are many fresh fruits contain high amounts of vitamin C.
“Hence, making these fruits a part of your daily diet would provide with the required nutrients to the body and keeps the body hydrated. Eating fruits improves blood circulation, improves digestive system, gives an amazing glow to the skin and shine to the hair and promotes the overall health.
He said of grapefruit cannot be overemphasized.”The benefits from this fruit include vitamins C, A and B5, potassium, lycopene and fiber. It is also packed with essential vitamins to support immune system that helps prevent free radical damage.
Adejo stated that “mango is an excellent, wonder fruit amazingly packed with a bunch of nutrients, extremely rich in minerals, antioxidants, vitamins and enzymes. This fruits is considered the king of fruits. It is also one of the richest sources of Vitamins A, C and E, minerals like potassium, calcium, iron and phosphorus.
Additionally these iron rich mangoes are high in antioxidants, low in carbohydrates and help combat stomach acidity. Adejo said it is impossible to ignore fruits if one must have healthy body.
Fruits provide the necessary nutrition supplements to our body and also improve the body condition. Fruits provide perfect supplement for hormonal imbalance. Fruits provide many positive results. So far fruits have cured some of the ailments of the body also.
Fruits contain water content that maintains necessary moisture in the body. Fruits contain a substance called fructose which is a better supplement than sugar. All the fruits improve the sodium level content in the body and hence people with low sodium content should consume more fruits.
Dry fruits such as cashew nuts, walnuts, raisins, apricots help in the proper development of bones in the body. They also purify the blood in the body. Fruits cause easy digestion in the body and hence people with digestive problems should consume fruits so that their bowels are cleaned.
Fruits also release energy instantly. Fruits should be consumed during breakfast such as apple, mango, grapes and oranges and they maintain the hormonal imbalance in the body. Fruits regulate the weight in the body by adding necessary supplements and reducing the unnecessary fat.
The three fruits i.e. avacado, apricot provide necessary supplements to the hair and hence many products related to hair cure are made of these fruits. Many industries producing the cosmetic products are planning to add oils of these fruits to their products to provide the necessary supplement.
Most of the fruits contain certain levels of potassium and hence they regulate the blood pressure in the body. Some fruits have also prevented occurrence of mouth and digestive tract cancer. Pregnant woman should consume fruits for the necessary supplements for the fetus in the body as protein is a very necessary supplement in the body.
For a pregnant woman folic acid production in the body is very necessary because it helps in the proper development of the embryo. The Nigerian Center for Disease Control and Prevention has recommended a person to consume at least 5 types of any fruits daily or at least a part of a fruit because it promotes healthy living.