As a kid, whenever I had a cold, I would run miles away from guavas, a fruit I particularly liked, because I feared that eating them would worsen my problem. I would also be adamant about not having bananas, fearing it would worsen my already unbearable condition with runny nose and cough. I continued believing this for quite some years. It was only when I studied nutrition that I realised how baseless my fears were.
Now, when my clients express such ‘beliefs’ about fruits, I understand where they are coming from. Fruits are such a wonderful natural resource—they give us nutrition, energy and fibre. Here’s busting some common fruit myths.
Myth: An apple a day keeps the doctor away
It’s not just the apple, all fruits have vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, fibre and energy and, when consumed daily, can keep the doctor away. The keyword here is not apple but ‘daily’.
Myth: Eating guava during cough and cold worsens it
Guava is rich in vitamin C and other minerals. It also has other nutrients, which build immunity and therefore help us fight against cough and cold, not cause it.
Myth: Over-ripe fruits are harmful
As long as the fruit retains its colour, shape and texture, do not worry. Of course, if the fruit is bruised or has become smelly/rotten, you should discard them. Otherwise, consumption of over-ripe fruits doesn’t harm you in any way.
Myth: Bigger and brighter the fruit, the healthier it is
The brighter and bigger the fruit, the chances of it being artificially ripened are higher. For instance, grapes are sometimes treated with sulphur dioxide to delay spoilage and keep them looking fresh for long [sulphite can trigger an allergy in some people]
Eat only fruits that are fresh, seasonal and grown locally.
Myth: Diabetics shouldn’t eat fruits
If you have diabetes, you can still eat up to two fruits a day, keeping in mind the glycaemic index [GI] of those fruits. You need to avoid fruits that are high in natural sugars. For instance, watermelon has a GI higher than even mangoes and so is best avoided by diabetics. But there is no need for you to deprive yourself of fruits completely.
Myth: Consuming fruits leads to dental caries/decay
If you don’t care for your teeth or maintain good oral hygiene, any food will cause tooth decay. In fact, fruits like apples, pears and oranges [most citrus fruits] help in cleaning your teeth.
Myth: Because fruits are low on calories you can have as many as you like
Fruits contain simple sugars and also their fair share of calories. Some fruits are low in calories but still need to be consumed in moderation. Excessive sugar means excessive calories and thus weight gain.
Myth: Eating citrus fruits helps clear wrinkles as they are rich in vitamin C
Vitamin C is an antioxidant that has collagen-like properties, which leads to glowing and healthy skin. However, the development of wrinkles varies from one individual to another. Along with food, it’s your body’s capacity to digest the vitamin C, which aids in healthier skin. Therefore it’s not citrus fruits but your body that determines the arrival of wrinkles depending on how it absorbs vitamin C.
Myth: Eating too many fruits can cause diabetes
Diabetes is not just determined by what you eat but by the ability of your pancreas to produce insulin. If your body is unable to produce sufficient insulin, you are likely to have high sugars irrespective of the number of fruits you eat.
Myth: Eating too many bananas can lead to a potassium overdose
Nutrients introduced in the body as injections/tablets/syrups are absorbed much better than from a natural food source. Therefore, even if you eat 10 bananas a day, it won’t shoot up your potassium load as your body won’t be able to absorb all that potassium. All that could happen due to eating too many bananas is an upset tummy.
Myth: Fruits are best eaten at bedtime
The best time to consume fruits is mid-morning and mid-evening on a light stomach because your body’s need for glucose and energy is higher at this time. Eating fruits at bedtime post dinner only loads more calories into your system, leading to weight gain. Besides, it’s not advisable to eat much after 7pm because our metabolism slows down as the day progresses and is the slowest by bedtime.
Myth: Eating a whole fruit is as good as drinking fruit juice or eating a fruit bar
A lot of people hate eating fruits—they find it immensely boring. But they don’t mind drinking juice or eating a fruit bar. But it is always better to eat a fruit as juice lacks fibre, which is present in a whole fruit. Fibre aids in digestion and juices do not have the same effect.
And fruit bars [as well as juice] are processed, often with added sugar, and have far more calories, compared to fresh fruits. Having said that, drinking juice is much better than not consuming fruits at all. But don’t drink it thinking it will provide you with the benefits of a whole fruit; be aware that you’re missing out on certain nutrients like vitamins and minerals as well as fibre.
Myth: Figs are good for health and hence should be eaten in plenty during the season
Figs are nutrient-heavy and not easily digested by the body even though they are rich in fibre. Excessive consumption of figs may lead to diarrhoea. One shouldn’t eat more than two figs a day.
Myth: Fortified fruits are healthier than fresh ones
Most fortified fruits come in cans. And anything fresh is always healthier than anything that comes in a tin box as it contains preservatives, has high sodium and sugar content, and adds to your weight and water retention issues.
These beliefs about fruits are facts…
Truth: Eating too much mango leads to excessive heat in the body
Eating too much mango upsets the tummy or leads to skin eruptions because it is high in sugar. It’s the same with other sugar-heavy fruits as well. Therefore remember, moderation is key.
Truth: Apple is good for bad tummy
Apples are also good for constipation when eaten in a stewed form. So, if you have an upset tummy, eat it as a whole fruit or juice and to cure constipation, eat it stewed.
Truth: Different fruits have different things to offer
While all fruits offer fibre and energy each fruit has its unique nutritional profile. Red, yellow and orange fruits are rich in antioxidants; whereas fruits which can be eaten with skin are rich in fibre. While bananas and chickoo give instant energy, kiwis and grapes increase your fluids. Therefore, do not omit any fruit from your diet.
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