Since the dawn of human civilisation, people have eaten fruit. In prehistoric times, people enjoyed fruit fresh from the plant or tree, and could only sample fruits native to their local climates. In fact fruit, along with vegetables and meat (if the hunt was successful), was a main staple of the human diet.
Today, with the development of the food industry and improvements in processing technology and transportation, we can enjoy fruits from across the globe in all manner of forms – massively increasing our demand. But unfortunately, it is now believed that 25% of the total world production of fruit goes to waste, due in part to poor weather conditions, irregular/late harvesting and improper storage.
Nevertheless, our consumption of fruits has boomed. Global intake of Apples, Bananas and Oranges alone totals a colossal 255.56 million tonnes each year. But what is the fascination with fruit? Fruit has many “organoleptic characteristics” – it appeals to the senses. Its various coloured pigments appeal to the sight. The range of esters and chemical compounds produce a vast array of fragrances and tastes.
But not only does it look and taste good, it IS good for us. In fact, we are recommended to eat five portions of fruit or vegetables every day in order to maintain a healthy diet. But why this is so?
Why fruit is a vital part of a healthy diet
A primary reason why fruits are so nutritious is due to their high levels of carbohydrate. Carbohydrate is one of the three primary members of the “Macronutrient” group, alongside protein and fat, which humans must consume in the high volumes in order to maintain our metabolism. However, the sugars (glucose) contained in certain fruits such as grapes can present a challenge to those with Diabetes, especially if they are also sensitive to acids. Blueberries have been found to benefit people with diabetes, as they have a very low glycaemic index.
A secondary factor is that fruit contains high concentrations of mineral elements which, although only necessary in minimal quantities, are essential to the healthy operation of our immune systems. However, it is a common misconception that fruits being rich in acids, which act as a suitable carrier for Vitamin C, are its best source and therefore vital as a defence against illness and infection. In fact, Peppers and some sort of Cabbage contain much higher quantities.
Most fruits (with the exceptions of bananas and dog roses) contain large amounts of water. This is extremely important to all humans, and especially athletes, because by consuming fruit they take in added water, which prevents dehydration (although it should be used as a supplement to a regular water intake, and not as an alternative).
More importantly fruits contain little undissolved dry matter, which means by ingesting the fruit the significant compounds such as sugars, carbohydrates, vitamins and minerals which are dissolved in the water are easily absorbed into the body. These include certain antioxidants which are believed to have a strong anti-cancerous effect. Scientific studies have shown the 100g of raspberries, eaten every day for four days, provide sufficient antioxidants to significantly reduce the risk of developing serious illnesses.
According to the World Health Organisation, approximately 1.7 million deaths (2.8%) worldwide are attributable to low fruit and vegetable consumption. Adequate consumption of fruit and vegetables reduces the risk of cardiovascular diseases, stomach cancer and colorectal cancer.
So it is clear to us now that fruit is really beneficial to our health. But with such a wide variety of fruits available to us, which ones should we be eating?
Which fruits are the healthiest?
We can’t really say that there is a “healthiest fruit” or a “least healthy fruit” – each variety of fruit has a different set of characteristics which benefit our bodies in different ways. For example, the humble blackcurrant contains 60mg of calcium, compared to a fig which contains 35mg, or an apple which contains just 7mg. Iron can be found in high quantities (approx. 1mg per 100g) in fruits such as redcurrants and blackberries. Dog Roses have a concentration of Vitamin C about 10 times higher than most fruits, containing 1250mg for every 100g of fruit.
On the other hand some fruits, which are beneficial in some aspects, are not so beneficial in others. Take the apple for example – it is often said that “an apple a day keeps the doctor away.” This saying has some grounding in fact as apples have been found to help regulate blood sugar and are a great source of dietary fibre. Nevertheless, with a surprising 19g of sugar in just one medium apple, it is a fruit best enjoyed in moderation.
So what have we learned? Quite simply put: Fruit is vital to life. And with this in mind, our Little Bay and Foodilic restaurants strive to make the most of fruits in their dishes. Why not check out our menus at www.littlebay.co.uk and make your reservation to sample some of our delightful dishes.