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Fruit - Fruit your way to longevity!

By Jake Biggs, Nutrition Longevity

What are fruits?

The definition of a fruit is any sweet, edible part of a plant that resembles fruit, even if it does not develop from a floral ovary and is also used in a technically imprecise sense for some sweet or semi-sweet vegetables, some of which may resemble a true fruit or are used in cookery as if they were a fruit eg: rhubarb. It is the sweet and fleshy product of a tree or other plant that contains seed and can be consumed as a food.

What are the different types of fruits? Complete fruit list!

Abiu, Açai, Acerola, Ackee, African cucumber, Apple, Apricot, Avocado, Banana, Bilberry, Blackberry, Blackcurrant, Black sapote, Blueberry, Boysenberry, Breadfruit, Buddha's hand (fingered citron), Cactus pear, Canistel, Chempedak, Cherimoya (Custard Apple), Cherry, Chico fruit, Cloudberry, Coco De Mer, Coconut, Crab apple, Cranberry, Currant, Damson, Date, Dragon fruit (or Pitaya), Durian, Egg Fruit, Elderberry, Feijoa, Fig, Finger Lime (or Caviar Lime), Goji berry, Gooseberry, Grape, Raisin, Grapefruit, Grewia asiatica (phalsa or falsa), Guava, Hala Fruit, Honeyberry, Huckleberry, Jabuticaba, Jackfruit, Jambul, Japanese plum, Jostaberry, Jujube, Juniper berry, Kaffir Lime, Kiwano (horned melon), Kiwifruit, Kumquat, Lemon, Lime, Loganberry, Longan, Loquat, Lulo, Lychee, Magellan Barberry, Mamey Apple, Mamey Sapote, Mango, Mangosteen, Marionberry, Melon (Cantaloupe, Galia melon, Honeydew, Mouse melon, Musk melon, Watermelon, Miracle fruit, Monstera deliciosa, Mulberry, Nance, Nectarine, Orange, Blood orange (Clementine, Mandarin, Tangerine), Papaya, Passionfruit, Peach, Pear, Persimmon, Plantain, Plum, Prune (dried plum), Pineapple, Pineberry, Plumcot (or Pluot), Pomegranate, Pomelo, Purple mangosteen, Quince, Raspberry, Salmonberry, Rambutan (or Mamin Chino), Redcurrant, Rose apple, Salal Berry, Salak, Satsuma, Shine Muscat or Vitis Vinifera, Sloe or Hawthorn Berry, Soursop, Star apple, Star fruit, Strawberry, Surinam cherry, Tamarillo, Tamarind, Tangelo, Tayberry, Tomato, Ugli fruit, White currant, White sapote & Yuzu.

These are considered to be fruits according to the scientific definition, but can be considered as vegetables: Bell pepper, Chile pepper, Corn kernel, Cucumber, Eggplant, Jalapeño, Olive, Pea, Pumpkin, Squash, Tomato and Zucchini.

What are the types of fruits?

Berry: Entire fruit is fleshy, except for perhaps a thin skin. Can contain one seed or multiple. The seed or seeds must be inside the fruit eg: blueberries and grapes.

Pepo: Modified berry, skin is hard and thick eg: pumpkin and watermelon .

Hesperidium: Modified berry, leathery skin however not as hard as the skin of a pepo eg: all citrus fruit (orange and lemon).

Pome: Fruit that has a core surrounded by edible fleshy tissue, core usually not consumed eg: apples and pears.

Drupe: Also named as stone fruit, fleshy fruit with a hard stone surrounding the seed eg: peaches and olives.

What are the health benefits of fruits?

Consuming fruit is an optimal way to improve overall health and reduce onset of medical conditions. Fruits are packed with essentials vitamins and minerals (micronutrients) and are rich in dietary fibre. With also containing a range of health boosting antioxidants and flavonoids.

Scientific evidence on health benefits of fruit

Multiple journal articles have demonstrated that individuals who consume more fruit have a superior nutritional status including:

1. Prevention of medical conditions: Multiple studies have investigated fruit and vegetables together, with a small amount investigating fruit alone. One review of 9 studies discovered that each daily portion of fruit consumed reduced the risk of heart disease by 7%. One study looked at how various types of fruit affect the risk of type 2 diabetes. Those who consumed the greatest grapes, apples and blueberries had the lowest risk, with blueberries having the greatest effect. Individuals who consume the most fruit tends to be more health conscious, less likely to smoke and more likely to exercise. Multiple randomized controlled trials (human experiments) have demonstrated that increased fruit intake can lower blood pressure, reduce oxidative stress and improve glycaemic control in diabetic patients.

2. High in dietary fibre, water and upsurged chewing resistance: Whole fruits take time to chew and digest, the fructose component of the fruit will be slowly moved to the liver and due to its high dietary fibre component will make individuals feel fuller for longer. When fructose is rapidly digested (coca cola) it can cause long term health consequences (tooth decay, heart disease and type 2 diabetes).

3. Loaded with dietary fibre, vitamins, minerals and antioxidants: Nutrients that are imperative for optimal health. Dietary fibre (specifically soluble fibre) has been demonstrated to have multiple health benefits including reducing cholesterol, slowing absorption of carbohydrates, bowel management, weight loss and upsurged satiety. Fruits are loaded with several vitamins and minerals that many individuals don’t get enough of which include vitamin C, potassium and folate. The skin of fruits is very rich in antioxidants and fibre (berries which have greater amounts of skin, are often believed to be healthier than larger fruits. Variety is king due to the different micronutrient composition.

4. Weight loss: Fruits are incredibly filling due to their high fibre and water content and as well as the extensive chewing involved. Fruits are one of the highest in the satiety index (measure of how much different foods contribute to feelings of fullness. Apples and oranges are amongst the highest scoring foods tested. Increasing dietary intake of apples or oranges, the individual will likely feel so full that will automatically reduce overall dietary intake. In a six-month study, nine men ate a diet consisting only of fruits (82% of calories) and nuts (18% of calories). These males lose substantial amounts of body mass particularly those who were overweight than at healthy weight.

Is there any particular times or instances that an individual should limit or remove fruit from dietary intake?

1. Intolerance: Consumption of fruit can cause digestive imbalances in specific individuals with and intolerance to ‘Fermentable Oligosaccharides, Disaccharides, Monosaccharides, and Polyols (FODMAPS). FODMAPS are a group of sugars that aren’t completed digested or absorbed into the intestines, fermented in the gut which cause gastrointestinal disturbances. Sensitive FODMAPS individuals are advised to only consume one fruit portion in 1 serving (~80g~). High fodmaps fruits include apples, apricots, cherries, figs, mangoes, nectarines, peaches, pears, plums and watermelon. Low fodmap fruits include unripe bananas, blueberries, kiwi, limes, mandarins, oranges, papaya, pineapple, rhubarb and strawberries.

2. Low carbohydrate or ketogenic diet: These dietary paradigms intend to reduce substantially carbohydrates to under 50g daily or potentially no carbohydrates at all. One fruit can be 20g of carbohydrates, which makes consumption of fruit impractical.

What about dried fruits or fruit juices?

There is no dietary fibre or water content as well that dried fruits are extremely high in sugar and easy to overindulge in due the lack of dietary fibre. Fruit juices as well should be limited unless it is the pure fruit being extracted. But whole fruits are still the king to the dietary fibre component. A substantial number of juices on the market are packed with preservatives, added sugars and additives.

As a nutritional medicine practitioner, I advocate fruits to all my clients. The research evidence illustrates the numerous health benefits that fruits have. Excluding this from the diet is not advantageous for long term health and longevity.

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