Health Benefits of Fruit

I read this article when it first came out and stumbled on it again. Thought some of you might enjoy reading it. I’m sending it out to my customers today also. Have to make use of the rainy day.

Well - Tara Parker-Pope on Health

Making the Case for Eating Fruit
By SOPHIE EGAN JULY 31, 2013 2:28 PM July 31, 2013 2:28 pm 337
Credit Tony Cenicola/The New York Times
Experts agree that we are eating too much sugar, which is contributing to obesity and other health problems. But in the rush to avoid sugar, many low-carb dieters and others are avoiding fruits. But fresh fruit should not become a casualty in the sugar wars, many nutrition experts say.

Dr. David Ludwig, the director of the New Balance Foundation Obesity Prevention Center at Boston Children’s Hospital, said that sugar consumed in fruit is not linked to any adverse health effects, no matter how much you eat. In a recent perspective piece in The Journal of the American Medical Association, he cited observational studies that showed that increased fruit consumption is tied to lower body weight and a lower risk of obesity-associated diseases.

Whole fruits, he explained, contain a bounty of antioxidants and healthful nutrients, and their cellular scaffolding, made of fiber, makes us feel full and provides other metabolic benefits. When you bite into an apple, for example, the fruit’s fiber helps slow your absorption of fructose, the main sugar in most fruits. But fiber is not the full story.

“You can’t just take an 8-ounce glass of cola and add a serving of Metamucil and create a health food,” Dr. Ludwig said. “Even though the fructose-to-fiber ratio might be the same as an apple, the biological effects would be much different.”

Fiber provides “its greatest benefit when the cell walls that contain it remain intact,” he said. Sugars are effectively sequestered in the fruit’s cells, he explained, and it takes time for the digestive tract to break down those cells. The sugars therefore enter the bloodstream slowly, giving the liver more time to metabolize them. Four apples may contain the same amount of sugar as 24 ounces of soda, but the slow rate of absorption minimizes any surge in blood sugar. Repeated surges in blood sugar make the pancreas work harder and can contribute to insulin resistance, thereby increasing the risk for Type 2 diabetes.

“If we take a nutrient-centric approach, just looking at sugar grams on the label, none of this is evident,” Dr. Ludwig said. “So it really requires a whole foods view.”

Fruit can also help keep us from overeating, Dr. Ludwig said, by making us feel fuller. Unlike processed foods, which are usually digested in the first few feet of our intestines, fiber-rich fruit breaks down more slowly so it travels far longer through the digestive tract, triggering the satiety hormones that tend to cluster further down the small intestines.

Another nutrition expert, Dr. Robert Lustig, a professor of pediatrics at the University of California, San Francisco, who has called sugar “toxic” at high doses and fructose the most “actionable” problem in our diet, is still a fan of fruit. “As far as I’m concerned, fiber is the reason to eat fruit,” since it promotes satiety and the slow release of sugar. He adds a third benefit from fiber: it changes our “intestinal flora,” or microbiome, by helping different species of healthy bacteria thrive.

Neither doctor favors certain fruits over others. But Dr. David L. Katz, director of the Yale University Prevention Research Center, said that “to maximize the benefit, you actually want a variety” of fruits. He advises “eating the rainbow,” since different colors signal different types of antioxidants and nutrients.

All three experts caution against choosing juice over whole fruit. While the best juice has nothing added, nothing subtracted, some important changes take place when you turn fruit into liquid. Chewing the whole fruit slows down consumption, Dr. Katz said, compared to when you “take an 8-ounce juice and just pour it down the hatch,” which not only makes it easier to ingest more calories, but releases fructose faster into the bloodstream.

Plus, he said, with juicing, “you reduce some of the metabolic benefit of the fiber by pulverizing it so fine; it changes the physical structure.” Commercially produced juices are particularly concerning since they are often filtered, removing fiber altogether. If you opt for juice, tossing whole fruit in a blender rather than squeezing it offers the best chance of retaining most of the fiber, vitamins and minerals.

Dried fruits also hold one of the main disadvantages of juices: volume. Dried fruit essentially concentrates the calories and sugar into smaller packets, making it easier to consume excess calories. But dried fruit is better than juice, Dr. Katz said, because it preserves the fruit’s cellular structure, along with the health assets that provides. And since dried fruit travels easily and does not rot, it can make the difference in eating any fruit at all.

Dr. Katz’s hierarchy? Fresh fruit, followed closely by dried fruit, with sweetened dried fruit a distant third, and juice in fourth place.

He said we should remember “a law we all learned from Aesop” and judge fructose “by the company it keeps,” fiber and all.



I would never discourage my kids from eating fresh fruit. There are just too many good things about it (Fiber, Nutrients, etc) to discourage eating it. They do prefer it to most veggies and I wish we could strike a better balance but the sweetness from fruits naturally lend them to being more kid friendly than veggies. My daughter will eat carrots, celery, cucumbers but if there is fruit nearby she’ll choose it every time.

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Not to mention tongue fatigue. I don’t have the research handy, but they’ve essentially learned sweetness is relative. Eat too many candy bars and fruit isn’t as satisfying, because the taste buds scale the response. I wouldn’t suggest that searching for high brix numbers may make the rest of your crop taste less sweet, but the guys who studied it might.

Hi Alan,
Thanks for that inspiring article. When I am planting, pruning, spraying, examining, transporting, harvesting and so on and on in the garden, I am even more encouraged by articles like that one,that I am on the right track. I am truly convinced that all of the (enjoyable & tiring) work on the fruit trees and in my 20-raised bed garden-is worth all the effort as I know that everyone else shares the same sentiments too.:relaxed:
I am always saying that I love growing stuff simply because I know it’s healthier for us and it taste so much better to boot-plus, you can control how it grows and what you put on it-to grow. I am one of those “strange” people who really believe that there are more reasons to grow your own food than NOT! (And I am in good company!)
And speedster1, I guess I am just like your daughter, I run to the sweet stuff first too although I know I will dive into the veggies at another time! :smiley: Thanks again for sharing Alan.

More to the point family, I don’t juice my fruit. I would rather eat it. Although I am addicted to making jams, thanks to Mrs.g47 !:relaxed:

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Ahg, you are getting from your garden and orchard two of the three main things that promote a longer and healthier life- exercise and a healthy diet. The third, and possibly most influential we can’t control- genetics.

There’s also solid evidence that the act of participation in growing food has a dramatic influence on the willingness of children to eat vegetables and their willingness to try new foods. So really, I compulsively buy trees for the future children I don’t yet have. Honest.

I’d make at least one more category of fruit uses. Jam would go with juice or worse. Cooking pies etc which can add more sugar and other unhealthy ingredients would rank last by a big margin. That’s basically processed food.

Now wait just a minute. If you are going to eat dessert anyway, a fruit pie that is at least partially sweetened with fruit will reduce the negative metabolic consequences of deserts like cake which rely completely on refined sugar for sweetness. I’m guessing that dried fruits that concentrate sugar and can be used in deserts have their sugar bonded with cellulose as well. Raisons can sweeten cookies almost entirely alone.

Mrs. G, don’t let FN make you sad!

What’s wrong with fresh fruit as desert? That’s what the brix junkie eats.

Nothing at all, but I love home made and skillfully (usually french) bakery made pastries- especially when butter and flower are combined with fresh fruit. All things in moderation- every calorie needn’t have virtue beyond deliciousness.

We were talking about health benefits of fruit, right? I stick by my opinion, butter, flower, and fruit ranks after juice.

I like to make smoothie (not juice) by blending apples, orange,frozen berries,carrots,kale,…

Now I am wondering how much faster the process of making smoothie releases the fructose, so this morning’s smoothie is less smooth :slight_smile:

All food that is cooked is processed food.

If you buy those processed dessert’s I agree with Fruitnut, but if you make them, that’s a different story. My jam is not jelly, the only thing filtered out is seeds, and about 40% of the pulp. I try to keep as much as possible. So the fiber is broken down but still there. Also I use 50-75% less sugar than commercial products or what most recipes call for. We now have calcium gelling agent and you only need say half a cup of sugar for 4 cups of fruit. And you could use Splenda, or another sweetener and not add any sugar at all. All my jams have a tart unsweetened taste. They don’t taste very sweet. It’s sweet enough that most like it. Extremely flavorful, as much or more than fresh. Yellow raspberries are great fresh, but made as a low sugar jam they are to die for. Especially Fall Gold, it has a very unique taste.
No doubt fresh is the best way to consume, at this point I have too much for my family, I give a lot away. Still I have a lot of grade b fruit left. You don’t want to give that away, and you have consumed as much as possible for the day and I still have leftovers. I still have raspberries from last year, maybe 3 gallon bags left. So using them for cooking is what I do.
Consume as much as possible fresh, give some away, store the rest for cooking and such.

Those are my kindof preserves also.

I do make preserves with strawberries, so 100% of the fiber remains. Same low sugar method.
I recently found out blueberries are acidic enough you can can them by themselves (no sugar or anything else). You blanch them first and can and boil. I’m still not producing enough to can. All blueberries are consumed fresh. As mentioned elsewhere I lost this year’s crop on 4 plants. I only have 2 plants that will produce. Luckily they are my biggest and oldest plants. So production should be decent.

Most of my non-apple fruit consumption comes out of my freezer which is still loaded with gallon bags of blueberries, sliced nectarines, apricot puree and plum puree (the purees are frozen in pint increments). The only fruit I buy these days are citrus, and a few persimmons and mangoes.

I eat some preserves but not much.

It took 20 years to get to this point. Some of you have or will accomplish this much sooner.

I don’t either, I give most away. Yes I need more time to have enough stone fruit. Blackberries, raspberries, strawberries are at full tilt. A couple more years and I’ll have enough blueberries, 7 plants. tallest is 4 feet tall, will go to 6 feet tall and produce over 10 and as much as 20 pounds per plant. The high bush plants are awesome! Stone fruit maybe 3 more years till full production with a good selection of varieties.

The first few years my harvests were mostly berries also, and I froze and otherwise processed them. Now only blueberries are worth the time to me. Other berries are only forage fruit.

On my site, all but primocane brambles succumb to disease after a few short years and not worth their space and effort in my book. .