Dr. Bo’s Diet
As the weather continues to get warmer, and people become increasingly concerned with their weight and appearance, I tend to get a lot of questions about eating fruit. Many “dieters” are under the impression that fruit is too sugary and should be avoided when trying to lose weight.
We tend to associate fruit with sugar because of its naturally sweet flavor. However, the benefits of eating fruit are plentiful, and in most cases the amount of fruit sugar isn’t as high as you may think. Fruit is a key component to a healthy diet, a major tool in aiding weight loss, and a necessary element for overall good health.
Water. Fruits are roughly 75—95% water, depending on the variety. Plants, like humans, thrive and grow from water. Fruits, which are the edible portion of the plant, are like little water tanks, holding the majority of its hydration. Eating fruit, especially in warmer weather, when we tend to lose water through perspiration, can help replenish our body’s water stores and prevent dehydration. An added bonus is that all that water helps you feel fuller. Try placing a serving of fruit between your meals as a snack. This low-calorie snack will help you avoid becoming too hungry and overindulging at your next meal.
Fiber. With daily recommendations between 25 and 35 grams per day, fiber is an important benefit of eating fruit. Fiber has unique properties that actually slow the digestive process, causing you to feel fuller longer. Another interesting bonus is that fiber actually helps to blunt the glycemic effects of food on your insulin levels. This means that your blood sugar will rise at a slower pace, resulting in fewer cravings. Believe it or not, berries tend to pack the biggest punch when it comes to a high concentration of fiber. Blueberries, blackberries, and, best of all, raspberries (which boast a whopping 8 grams of fiber per one-cup serving) average only 65 calories per serving and can help directly curb your appetite. Now that’s a powerful little berry!
Vitamins and minerals. Fruits contain above-average levels of vitamins and minerals. Although you can take a multivitamin to get additional nutrients, most are better absorbed in their natural food state, meaning you will get more bang for your buck eating fruit than popping a pill. Fat-soluble vitamins, such as vitamins A, E, D, and K, are stored in our fatty tissue and used as needed. Water-soluble vitamins, however, are consumed and whatever is not needed on a daily basis is excreted. Some examples are B-vitamins, vitamin C, folate, niacin, and thiamine. It is important to have a healthy flow of fruits in one’s diet to keep all vitamin levels at their peak.
Disease prevention. Eating fruits has been linked to lowering rates of certain diseases as well. The high amount of soluble fiber in fruit binds to fats in the liver, aiding in lowered cholesterol and lessening the rate of plaque buildup in your arteries (plaque buildup can lead to heart disease). Additionally, people that eat fruit regularly are almost a third less likely to develop type 2 diabetes. Try varying your fruit consumption by color. Each color of fruit contains different antioxidant properties, with varied benefits. Red fruits, like tomatoes, red grapefruits, and watermelon, have high levels of lycopene, an antioxidant compound that has been linked to a reduction in cancers and heart disease. Yellow and orange fruits are rich in carotene, which is important for the body’s production of vitamin A, which plays a key role in eye and skin health. Green fruits like honeydew and kiwi contain high levels of lutein, a powerful antioxidant which helps prevent degenerative eye diseases such as cataracts. Recent long-term studies have shown that people who eat diets full of antioxidant-rich fruits are up to 15% less likely to develop cataracts.
And the big winner is . . . apples. We have all heard the old adage, “An apple a day keeps the doctor away.” But only recently have researchers determined this to actually be true. Apples are the standout in the fruit basket, and with good reason. These fiber-rich fruits help with everything from bloating to cavity prevention (all that munching and chewing actually helps clean away buildup on your teeth). One apple contains just as much fiber as a portion of high-fiber cereal. Apples also contain phenols, which have been shown to have a significant effect on cholesterol levels, raising HDL (“good cholesterol”) and lowering LDL (“bad cholesterol”). And recent research has shown that people who eat at least five apples per week have a significant reduction in lung diseases such as asthma. But don’t peel your apples: While apples can help prevent you from getting sick, the majority of vitamin C is just under the surface of the skin. Eating whole apples will help boost your immune system.
– – –
So this summer, when you pack up for your trip to the beach, take along some fruit. They are delicious, nutritious, and will help keep your weight and health in balance. v
Dr. Bo Rosenblat is a board-certified medical doctor and chief physician of Dr. Bo’s Diet Center, with office locations in Hewlett and Manhasset. For more information about Dr. Bo’s diet program, please call 516-284-8248 or visit www.DrBosDiet.com.