By Dr. Willie Ong (Internist and Cardiologist)
Here’s my list of the healthiest and locally-available fruits. Enjoy these superfruits for your health.
The banana is nature’s wonder fruit and the perfect fast food. Why is this fruit so healthy? Because it’s rich in potassium, vitamin B6 and folic acid. The high potassium content prevents cramps and gives ready energy with its easily digestible starch. Its potassium content is also perfect for patients on water pills (diuretics), and those with heart disease and high blood pressure.
A medium-sized banana has 95 calories, more than an apple but less than a mango. Bananas are also the perfect antacid, coating the stomach and preventing stomach ulcers. The high vitamin B6 also helps women suffering from premenstrual syndrome.
In The Healthy Food Directory by Michael Van Straten, the author ranks bananas near the top because bananas help alleviate 14 medical conditions including diarrhea, fatigue, heartburn, insomnia, nausea, menstrual problems, kidney problems, fluid retention and circulatory problems. The doctor-recommended BRAT diet for patients with diarrhea stands for banana, rice, apple and tea.
Mayo Clinic ranks apples as one of the world’s healthiest fruits. Apples are an excellent source of pectin, which is a soluble fiber that can lower blood cholesterol and sugar levels. Pectin binds with heavy metals like lead and mercury and helps the body eliminate these pollutants. Apples can help prevent constipation, arthritis, gout, gastroenteritis and diarrhea. Apples are excellent diet foods, only 47 calories per piece. Even the smell of an apple has a calming effect. Apple pie, apple juice, fresh apples are all great.
Citrus fruits like oranges, calamansi, suha (pomelo), dalandan and lemon
The overflowing amounts of vitamin C in citrus fruits are the reason for its high ranking. Locally we have calamansi, suha and dalandan. However, oranges and lemons are splendid too but are more costly. Vitamin C may help alleviate inflammatory conditions like asthma, osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis. It also protects the heart and boosts the immune system. That’s why it’s good for preventing colds.
Citrus fruits contain a fair amount of folate and potassium. Folate lowers homocysteine levels in the body and may reduce heart disease. All citrus fruits contain fiber, especially in the membranes separating the sections. For that reason, when you eat a fresh orange or grapefruit, it is always best to try to eat a bit of the white membrane around the juicy sections of the fruit.
Strawberries are believed to help fight cancer, gout, arthritis and anemia. It contains high amounts of vitamin C, iron, fiber and pectin. They contain powerful anti-oxidants which may help prevent cancer and heart disease. New evidence suggests that strawberries may have anti-viral properties, too. Strawberries are best eaten fresh.
Thanks to the Spaniards who introduced papayas to Manila in the sixteenth century, papayas are now grown throughout the country. Like other orange-colored fruits, papayas contain large amounts of beta-carotene (a precursor of vitamin A) and vitamin C. Hence, they are good for the skin and the immune system. Papayas also contain papain, an enzyme that helps our digestion. For people who are constipated, eating papayas everyday can help regulate their bowel movement.
Grapes contain important ingredients such as tannins, flavonoids, and anthocyanins. These chemicals are believed to give grapes its anti-cancer properties. Grapes are beneficial for those recuperating from an illness, and those who have anemia and fatigue. In fact, during Mahatma Gandhi’s long fasts, he would drink grape juice to keep his strength up. For those on a diet, limit your intake to seven pieces of grapes per meal. And since grapes are sprayed in the fields, be sure to wash them carefully in running water before eating.
Watermelon and melon
The melons have long been used by traditional medicine as a cure for kidney and bladder problems. Melons are rich in potassium and vitamin C. During summer, melon drinks are especially soothing and refreshing for the body. They can also help those with constipation.
Dr. Conrado Dayrit’s book The Truth About Coconut Oil lists several health benefits for Virgin Coconut Oil, ranging from treating bacterial infection, fungal diseases such as ringworm, and even HIV-AIDS. Coconut water, on the other hand, is good for kidney stones and cleansing one’s digestive tract. Coconut water is low in carbohydrates, low in sugar and serves as an isotonic beverage, which means it’s good for replenishing the body. And it’s 100% natural.
Avocados are rich in healthy mono-unsaturated fats, which mean it can be useful in preventing heart disease and stroke. Avocados also contain potassium, vitamin B6 and vitamin E. These vitamins can help relieve stress and beautify the skin. Avocado’s ingredients can stimulate the production of collagen, which can help prevent wrinkles and smoothen one’s skin. This fruit helps relieve symptoms of premenstrual syndrome. It is easily digestible, they can be given to elderly and bedridden patients.
Pineapple contains the unique enzyme, bromelain, which may help in digestion and reducing inflammation in the body. Pineapples are excellent sources of manganese and vitamin B, which give the body energy. The high vitamin C content also helps in strengthening one’s immune system. Each cup of chopped pineapples contains 75 calories.
Remember to drink 8 to 10 glasses of water a day and consume more of these super fruits especially when summer.