Story URL: http://news.medill.northwestern.edu/chicago/news.aspx?id=115105
Story Retrieval Date: 3/7/2014 11:46:03 PM CST
Tara S. Kerpelman/MEDILL
Tara S. Kerpelman/MEDILL
Everyone knows that fruits are full of vitamins and minerals. But did you know that these nutrients in a Valentine fruit bouquet not only boost your health but can boost your metabolism, too?
“All fruits are natural: they come straight from some organic source. That makes them safe and risk-free for most people," food scientist Barry Swanson, spokesperson for Chicago-based Institute of Food Technologists, said. "Most of them contain a large amount of water: 80 percent to 90 percent for most fruits and vegetables. It’s always good to have a lot of water because it’s important that we remain hydrated," he said.
Swanson, a professor of food science and nutrition at Washington State University in Pullman, said fruits contain a lot of vitamins and minerals, especially B-vitamins, and other water-soluble vitamins, such as vitamin C and riboflavin.
"All vitamins help your metabolism work better," he said. "There are a lot of claims in the health industry that vitamins, B vitamins especially, are helping to give energy." Swanson said the vitamins don't actually give you energy but they do boost your metabolic reactions. "This should make you feel better and make your body work better," he said.
Fresh fruit generally has greater concentrations of antioxidants and somewhat greater concentrations of vitamins, Swanson said. Because of the water used in food processing, nutrients are sometimes removed.
"Antioxidants are some chemicals that actually go out and scrounge free radicals in the system then scrounge oxygen as it comes through the system. Others work to prevent oxidation in different ways because they are oxidized before other chemicals in the body,” Swanson said.
Megan Campbell, a registered dietician at Northwestern University, said although the details of the antioxidants’ mechanisms are still unclear, they can reduce the risk of cancer and heart disease and lower blood pressure.
It may seem simple to grab a multivitamin. "It’s generally agreed that getting vitamins and minerals from fruit as opposed to supplements is better because the substances that are in these produce items work better together,” Campbell said.
So if you're considering purchasing a fruit arrangement for Valentine's Day, Swanson offered the following advice on the health benefits of several popular fruits:
--Strawberries. These berries are red so they have anthocyanins [water soluble pigments] which contain antioxidant properties. They also contain some vitamin C although it’s not an excellent source. They can contain a substantial amount of dietary fiber that can help your system to maintain regularity. Strawberries contain some iron, some calcium, some potassium. Lots of fiber from all the seeds.
--Honeydew and Cantaloupe. They contain a lot of water, they’re very orange so they contain chemical pigments called carotinoids, which are precursors to vitamin A which is actually a fat soluble vitamin that is an antioxidant also. Carotinoids oxidize themselves so they basically are acting like a substitute for good molecules in the body so they protect you in that way.
--Grapes. This fruit also contains anthocyanins. The redder the grapes, the more antioxidants are present.