Fruits are considered nature’s perfect foods. They are the only pure offering from nature, as a ripe fruit from the tree may actually drop into our hand. The fruit is the result of a healthy growing cycle of life for most plants and the bearer or potentiator of life, as it carries the seeds for the next generation of trees and plants.
Fruits have many positive qualities. They are natural and healthy (and best from organic sources), and they are juicy, with a very high water content, like the human body itself. Fruits are also well stocked in nutrients, particularly such important vitamins as A and C, a little of the Bs, and E in the seeds. Many minerals, such as calcium, magnesium, copper, and manganese, a little iron, and other trace minerals, are also present in fruits, especially when they are contained in the water and soil that nourishes the plants or trees. Fruits are low in fat and high in fiber, both very healthful attributes for our commonly high-fat, low-fiber culture. Fruits are also relatively low calorie and low sodium, two more helpful characteristics. Most are sweet, colorful, and cooling and can be crunchy too. Fruits’ colors are some of the most beautiful in nature and cover the whole rainbow.
Fruits are high in natural sugars, thus making them a good substitute for those higher-calorie sugar treats when we feel we want something sweet. The sweet flavor is the most prevalent flavor in many diets. According to Chinese medical theory, too much sweet food may cause many problems. But eating whole fruits is the most natural way to obtain this sweet flavor.
Fruit juices are also an important beverage. Ideally consumed fresh, they are higher in vitamins and minerals than many other drinks. They are particularly a good replacement for sugary soda pops. Fruits and fruit juices without added sugars also tend to be purifying and help with our elimination. They are often part of a cleansing or detoxification program.
Fruits are also very easy to digest and utilize, and so they usually have low allergenic potential (allergy comes mainly from the protein components of food). Occasionally, someone is sensitive to such fruits as oranges or tomatoes, but this is less common than with other regularly used foods, such as milk, wheat, and other grains. Fruits may have a cooling and calming action for the body and nervous system and may be helpful in reducing body stress. Because of the natural nutrient content, fruit consumption may help strengthen our immune system as well.
It is most natural and economical to eat fruits fresh in season. It is ideal to wash them to clean off any sprays, germs, and environmental contaminants and to eat organic fruits whenever possible. Eating fruit in its ripe state is probably best for our body, as the “green” or unripe fruits may be more irritating.
Also, fresh is best from a nutritional standpoint. Fresh frozen is next, as the fruits lose very little of their nutrients. Drying fruits for storage is probably a little better than canning, though fresh “canned,” or, really, glass-jar-stored fruits in water that produce their own fruit juice, is much better than those with added sugars or syrups. Drying fruit pieces is more economical for storage purposes, and they will keep a long time if protected. Fruit is not usually cooked, though cooked fruits, such as stewed prunes, baked apples, and others are very tasty and can be eaten or used in some recipes; these may be easier to ingest for the elderly, who may not chew well, and are good for assisting normal intestinal activity. After cooking fruits, consuming the natural juices in which some of the fruits’ nutrients are contained will make them more wholesome.
Fruits fall into such categories as citrus fruits, melons, berries, tropical fruits, dried fruits, and many common fruits such as apples and pears. Most fruits grow on trees, but some are found on bushes (berries) or on ground vines (melons). Most fruits follow the flower of the plant and are available during the summer, late summer, and autumn, though there are exceptions.
Fruits have also been categorized as sweet, subacid, and acid. The sweet fruits are mainly the dried fruits, such as raisins and figs, and some tropical ones, such as bananas. Most juicy fruits are considered subacid. These include peaches, plums, apples, pears, grapes, cherries, mangoes, papayas, and so on. Citrus fruits, some berries, pineapples, and pomegranates are examples of acid-tasting fruits. They have a higher level of acid, often ascorbic acid (vitamin C), and this may make them helpful in cutting fats or helping fat digestion. When broken down in our body, though, fruits become more alkaline. (Cranberries, prunes, plums, and possibly strawberries and pomegranates are the main acid-forming fruits.) When fruits are utilized or burned, the minerals and ash that are left, even from lemons and pineapples, are alkaline, supporting our body’s acid-alkaline balance. In regard to food combining (see Chapter 10), fruits are digested very easily and therefore best eaten by themselves, rather than with other more concentrated foods, which take longer to pass through our stomach and digestive tract.
These are the common tree fruits (except for grapes) of the United States and much of the world. Most of these are in the subacid variety of fruits. Apples and pears are similar in their growth and in the climates where they grow, as well as in their multiseeded cores. The single-seeded apricots, cherries, peaches, and plums each have their own unique flavor and avid followers. Grapes are our special vine fruit with many varieties used for eating, seasonal decor, and making wine.
All of these fruits are really tasty and juicy, and best eaten fresh; however, there is concern over the use of pesticides sprayed on them and the effects of these chemicals in our health, especially for our children. If possible, buying and consuming organically grown fruits is ideal.
Apples. Apple history is rich. From the Garden of Eden to Snow White and the Queen, the life of the apple had a questionable future. But Johnny Appleseed spread apples throughout the land and made them one of America’s popular fruits. Now they help to keep doctors away and shine up our teacher. Apples are also a very nutritious fruit. They are high in fiber, and apple pectin has a detoxifying quality and is used in many cleansing formulas. Eating apples also helps clean the teeth. Recent concerns over chemicals used in growing and harvesting apples has tainted the image of this “health” fruit, but organic apples or unsprayed apples are still one of the favorite fruits in our society.
One apple has about 100 calories, mainly from carbohydrate; nearly 2 grams of fiber; about 10 mg. vitamin C, 150 IUs of vitamin A, and some modest amounts of B vitamins—B1, B2, B3, B6, and biotin. Apples also contain various minerals—lots of potassium; over 15 mg. each of calcium, magnesium, and phosphorus; about a H mg. of iron; and traces of manganese, copper, selenium, and zinc. Apples even have some vitamin E, mostly in the seeds. Apples are like mini-multivitamins—they have a little of everything.
Apricots. Apricots have received recent notoriety about their laetrile-laden kernels. But the apricot fruit itself is very nutritious and tasty. It is high in vitamin A, mainly as beta-carotene, the vitamin A precursor. Each little apricot has nearly 1,000 IUs of vitamin A. The vitamin C content is fairly good, though lower than in some other fruits, as are the B vitamins. Potassium and other minerals, such as calcium and iron, are also contained in apricots. The trace minerals zinc, copper, and manganese are also present. Dried apricots may have even higher concentrations of vitamin A and minerals. Apricots are considered one of the longevity fruits contained in high amounts in the long-living Hunzas’ diet.
Cherries. Cherries can be sweet or sour, red or black. They are good colon cleansers, as they enhance bowel motility. They are fairly high in vitamin C content, about 15 mg. per cup of cherries. Vitamin A content is good, the Bs are modest, and minerals are high. Potassium content is very high, calcium content is good, as is phosphorus content, and there are modest levels of magnesium and manganese, and fair amounts of copper and iron, thus making this “bloody” fruit good for building our blood.
Grapes. There are many varieties of this fruit of the vine. Wines made from grapes are used in most cultures as part of both religious rites and secular celebrations. And many people celebrate daily.
Green Thompson seedless grapes are those most commonly consumed in our country, though red seedless, larger seeded Reiber (or Ribier) grapes, and other kinds are a real treat as well. Grapes have lots of nutrients and also help cleanse the bowels. Grape fasting—consuming only grapes and grape juice for Day s and weeks at a time—is a fairly popular therapeutic tool in the natural healing fields. Many anecdotal positive experiences have been described by those grape fasters, but, as with any kind of fasting, there is not very much research to demonstrate its value. Nor do grapes maintain a balanced diet.
Grapes are fairly high in fruit sugar, fructose, and are mainly carbohydrate foods. They contain no fat and minimum protein but a good amount of fiber. Grapes have about 100 calories per cup. They contain decent amounts of vitamin A; good vitamin C levels; some B vitamins; lots of potassium; some calcium, magnesium, and phosphorus; traces of iron and copper; and a fairly high level, for fruit, of the important mineral manganese.
Because bugs are very attracted to the sweet grapes, these fruits are often heavily sprayed. In fact, there have been recent grape boycotts by the Farm Workers Union to protest the use of dangerous pesticides that jeopardize the workers’ health—and the consumers’ as well.
Peaches. Peaches have very good press—they are sweet, fuzzy, and friendly, and when all is going well, it’s “peachy.” In season, peaches are usually so juicy that they should be eaten outdoors or with bibs.
Peaches have good levels of vitamins A and C, potassium, and phosphorus; fair amounts of calcium and magnesium; and traces of the important minerals zinc, selenium, manganese, iodine, sulfur, copper, and iron. The B vitamin content is modest, as in most fruits.
Pears. Pears are similar to apples in that they have modest to moderate amounts of many nutrients. There are many varieties, ranging from crunchy to very juicy. They are lower in vitamin A than other fruits but do contain good fiber. They have decent levels of vitamin C and folic acid and have high amounts of potassium and surprisingly good levels of manganese and selenium. Like apples, pears also have good cleansing and detoxification potential, probably related to their high fiber content.
Plums. Plums also come in many varieties and are one of our few purple foods. They range in flavor from sour to very sweet and are mildly acid-forming when broken down in our body. Plums are low in calories and have good levels of vitamin A and potassium. They contain a bit of calcium and magnesium, some iron and copper, vitamin C and phosphorous, and traces of B vitamins.
Citrus fruits are warm-climate fruits containing almost all juice. They seem to be avail-able nearly year round in our hotter states, such as Florida, Texas, and California, but most citrus fruits are harvested mainly in late spring to early summer, with certain types, such as navel oranges, giving a winter crop.