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The health benefits of fruit in a diet


Fruits bring many important elements for the body

 Fruit comes with a so wide variety of types, colours, flavours and nutritional and health properties, that is almost impossible to say which fruit is the best.

Different fruits are characterized by different combinations of nutrients (water, sugars, fiber, vitamins, minerals and phytochemicals) and this is why most nutritionists recommend to eat a variety of fruit to get the maximum health benefits.

Fresh fruit is rich in water, which plays a critical role in nearly every body function. It is essential for digesting foods, transporting nutrients throughout the body, eliminating toxins and waste products from the body, lubricating joints and regulating body temperature.

Fruits are rich in fiber and potassium

Fruit is also a good source of fiber, a complex carbohydrate which is not digested by human body, but remains within the gastrointestinal tract where it performs various different functions, such as increasing the feeling of satiety, preventing and reducing the absorption of fat, cholesterol and carbohydrates from food, and regulating the intestinal motility. Therefore fiber is beneficial for people with weight problems, as well as for people suffering from diabetes, high blood cholesterol, high blood triglycerides and intestinal constipation.

Fruit is rich in potassium and low in sodium, and hence is generally recommended for individuals affected by cardiovascular diseases and high blood pressure.

In addition all fruits are excellent sources of vitamins, including vitamin C (found in kiwi fruit, lemon, orange and grapefruit), vitamin E (mainly found in nuts, but also in some fresh exotic fruits such as avocado) and betacarotene (the vitamin A precursor especially found in watermelon, apricot, persimmon and cucumber melon).

All these vitamins are powerful antioxidants: they help prevent and fight the damage caused by free radicals to body tissues, thereby preventing premature aging and lowering the risk of developing many chronic degenerative diseases, as well as many types of cancer. 

Further benefits

Fruit also contains the so-called phytochemicals (such as polyphenols, antocianins, carotenoids and chlorophylls), which give the fruits their characteristic colour. Phytochemicals are not essential nutrients for human body. However they provide many health benefits, including protection against cancer, heart disease, diabetes and high blood cholesterol.

 Finally many fruits contain organic acids (such as citric acid found in lemon), which stimulate salivary and gastric secretions, thereby improving the digestion of foods high in starch (bread, pasta, rice, potatoes) and protein (meat, poultry, fish, eggs, milk and dairy products).

It is clear therefore that fruit is an essential part of any healthy diet. Most nutritionists suggest to eat at least three portions of fruit a day. The key word is "varying": eating different type of fresh fruit is important to get the maximum nutritional and health benefits. 

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