Sunday, May 17, 2015

Feature: Get the best from fresh fruits

By Ma. Susana O. Encarnacion

The scorching heat signals the coming of the summer season.  There are a lot of wonderful things we can indulge ourselves into to lessen the heat.  We can take a plunge in the pool or just relax at home sipping an icy cold glass of our favorite fruit shake or cold water.

But if there’s one good thing about summer, it is the abundance of fresh fruits to really enjoy.  But do you know how to choose the best one among our favorite fruits? In an article published by the “Nutrition Action Health Letter (Vol. 25, No.4),” the following tips are suggested when choosing our favorite fruits:

For apples: Look for firm and well-colored fruit.  Avoid bruised fruit or one that yields to slight pressure on the skin. Apples may be refrigerated to prolong freshness. Apples are said to soften ten times faster at room temperature.

For bananas: Look for bananas which are firm, bright and free of bruises or other injuries. Avoid those which are bruised and with discolored skin. They are best stored at room temperature.

For grapes: It is best to look for well-colored and plump grapes firmly attached to the stem. Avoid soft, moldy or wrinkled grapes and those with bleached areas around the stem ends.  Don’t let grapes get wet.  Wash them just before eating.

For guavas: It is best to look for soft green fruit with a fragrant aroma. Avoid hard fruit. Guavas are best ripened at room temperature. Ripe guavas will keep only for a day or two but the pulp can be frozen.

For oranges: Look for firm, heavy fruits with fresh, bright looking skin that is smooth. Lightweight oranges are likely to lack flesh and juice. Very rough skin texture means thick skin and less flesh.  Oranges keep fresh for only one week or two if refrigerated.  They yield the most juice if kept at room temperature.

For papaya: Look for those with firm and unblemished fruit whose green color is turning yellow. Avoid those which are solid green or mushy or with bruises. Papayas are best ripened in paper bag at room temperature until softened and golden yellow.

Fruits are best enjoyed when they are eaten at their freshest. The above tips can be used as our guide in choosing the best for our favorite fruits.  Some fruits like mango, papaya, guavas and citrus are rich sources of vitamin C, which help prevent scurvy.

Likewise, they are very important in increasing resistance to infection and facilitating the absorption of non-heme iron. Yellow fruits, on the other hand, are beta-carotene rich and common fruits like bananas, melon and pineapple contribute additional vitamins and minerals which are good for the body.

Fruits like vegetables, provide dietary fiber that aids in regular bowel movement.  Eating fruits alone however, will not provide all the nutrients our bodies need.  The human body needs more than 40 different nutrients for good health.

As suggested in the Nutritional Guidelines for Filipinos of the Food and Nutrition Research Institute-Department of Science and Technology (FNRI-DOST), no single food can provide all the nutrients in the amounts needed.  Remember, that the cliché: “eating a balanced diet for good health and nutrition," still stands.  I guess this is the basis of the old saying: “an apple a day keeps the doctor away.”  Happy fruit munching!

For more information on food and nutrition, contact:  Dr. Mario V. Capanzana, Director, Food and Nutrition Research Institute, Department of Science and Technology, General Santos Avenue, Bicutan, Taguig City; Tel/Fax Num:  8372934 and 8373164; email: mvc@fnri.dost.gov.ph, mar_v_c@yahoo.com; FNRI-DOST website: http://www.fnri.dost.gov.ph.; FNRI Facebook page: facebook.com/FNRI-DOST; FNRI Twitter account: twitter.com/FNRI-DOST. (FNRI-DOST S&T Media Service/PIA-Caraga)