Doctor’s Tip: Nonberry fruit is also good for you
Last week’s column was about berries, which have super health-promoting capabilities. Nonberry fruit is good for you, too, and is another one of Dr. Greger’s daily dozen in his book “How Not to Die.”
Dr. Greger’s favorite nonberry fruits are apples; dried apricots; avocados (technically a fruit): bananas; figs; grapefruit (especially pink); honeydew; kiwifruit; peaches; lemons; limes; lychees; mangos; nectarines; oranges; papaya; passion fruit; pears; pineapple; plums (especially black); pluots; pomegranates; prunes; tangerines; and watermelon. He recommends three servings of nonberry fruit a day, examples of a serving being: 1 medium-sized fruit, 1 cup of cut-up fruit or 1/4 cup of dried fruit.
As noted in previous columns, intense color in fruits and vegetables indicates lots of health-promoting anti-oxidants and other micronutrients. A good way to tell the amount of antioxidants present in various fruits is how long it takes them to turn brown (oxidize) when left out. For example, peeled bananas, a white fruit, turn brown (oxidize) quickly. When an apple is cut in half, the white part rapidly turns brown, whereas the intensely-colored peel doesn’t. A mango, which is intensely-colored throughout, doesn’t turn brown for days.
Following are examples of the health benefits of a few non-berry fruits:
•While bananas don’t have a lot of antioxidants or other micronutrients, green bananas contain resistant starch, which, like fiber, feed the health-promoting bacteria in the gut microbiome.
•Two kiwifruit one hour before bedtime can help with insomnia. And kiwifruit boost immune function.
•Compounds in citrus fruits concentrate in breast tissue and help prevent breast cancer, due to repair of DNA damage and other mechanisms. There are even more of these cancer-preventing compounds in the peel, and ground orange peel is available at Natural Grocers. If you grate your own, be sure you use organic oranges or grapefruit and wash it well.
•Watermelon doesn’t have a lot of antioxidants, but the seeds do, so avoid seedless. Yellow watermelons in particular contain a compound called citrulline that dilates blood vessels, producing a Viagra-like effect, and human studies confirm that it works. Also, eating 2 cups of watermelon prior to intense physical activity reduces muscle inflammation and soreness.
•An apple a day is said to keep the doctor away, but maybe the mortician as well. Unpeeled apples eaten on a regular basis lower blood pressure and improve the function of the endothelium — the organ that lines arteries — lowering the risk of heart attacks, the No. 1 killer in the U.S. Studies show that people who eat at least one unpeeled apple a day have a 35% lower risk of dying prematurely.
•Dates have been shown to stop growth of colon cancer cells in the lab. Date paste (take the pit out and mash) is a whole food and the only sweetener recommended by Dr. Greger in his “How Not to Die Cookbook.”
•Avocados contain lutein and zeaxanthin, which contribute to eye health. These micronutrients are most plentiful in the thin, dark green layer just beneath the peel, so be sure you include that when eating avocados. Although the fat in avocados is a relatively healthy fat, it’s still fat and is therefore calorie-rich. So people needing to lose weight should stick to no more than 1/4 of an avocado a day.
Bottom line: In addition to berries every day, eat a variety of nonberry fruit daily. Consider citrus fruit in the morning (plus grated peel if you are at risk for breast cancer); an apple or plum after lunch; and berries after dinner for dessert. (A traditional Japanese dessert is a mikan — like a tangerine). If you have sleep issues, eat two kiwifruits and some goji berries an hour before bedtime. The sugar in whole fruit does not raise blood sugar, but avoid fruit juice, which does.
Dr. Feinsinger is a retired family physician with special interest in disease prevention and reversal through nutrition. Free services through Center For Prevention and The People’s Clinic include: one-hour consultations, shop-with-a-doc at Carbondale City Market and cooking classes. Call 970-379-5718 for appointment or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
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