All types of fruit and some fruit classification for healthy eating.
Here is some further information on types of fruit and how different types of fruit contribute to healthy nutrition.
First, there's a look at the different main groups of fruit. Fruits can be divided into acid fruits, semi-acid fruits and alkaline fruits. This is a distinction often drawn by those who are interested in food combining and deriving the best nutrition from their food.
All types of fruit which are edible will have some nutritional benefit. There are, of course, lots of technical ways of classifying fruits to do with the botanical properties of each species. This is of limited interest from the perspective of nutrition.
Picture above: home-grown grapes can be delicious
The other thing worth noting here is that several of what we generally regard as vegetables are in fact fruits - tomatoes and cucumber being perhaps the commonest examples. How do we know they are fruits? Simply because they are the ripened ovaries of flowering plants - the most basic definition of what a fruit is.
On this page there is also some information about the transforming power of berries and other superfood fruits.
While all types of fruit which are edible may have some nutritional benefit, it is as well to be aware that the acids found in fruits can be to some extent harmful. Anyone who has tried to eat a lot of pineapple at one sitting will know the acidic effects that such fruit can have on the inside of the mouth.
The toothpaste companies are keen to remind us of "acid erosion" which can arise when tooth enamel is brought in contact with fruit and other acids. It is not just a marketing ploy. Real damage can occur from too much citric, or malic acid acting on the tooth's surface. Drinks such as apple juice and orange juice lower the pH of the mouth enough to cause actual damage in some individuals.
Fruit sugars, too can be stronger than is desirable and can cause dental caries. This is especially true for dried fruits where sugars are concentrated. In addition, some people may be allergic to some types of fruit. Salicylates in citrus fruits and some other fruits may cause allergy-like symptoms in some people. Salicylates tend to decrease in quantity in fruits as they ripen.
All types of fruit will contain some fruit sugars. This may be a factor for some people who are trying to control their calorie intake. Fruit sugars provide a natural and healthy form of energy. Fruit sugars can give you a quick lift and are far better for you than most consumer snack foods.
Some experts argue that fruit should always be perfectly ripe before we eat it. There is some sense in this as ripe fruit is usually far more tasty and appealing. It is clearly more digestible. Our garden birds display a distinct preference for fully ripe fruit, too.
Conversely, eating seriously under-ripe fruit can lead to stomach upsets.
However, some of the more acid fruits, such as cranberries appear to have a regulating effect upon our metabolisms. Since growing a lot of fruit in our cool English climate, I have started to develop a taste for the natural tang of relatively sharp summer fruits, eaten without added sugar. It's also worth noting the fantastic benefits of cider vinegar for health. Cider vinegar is made using relatively acidic apples.
The purpose of the classifications of fruit into acid and alkaline is simply to aid digestion. Different enzymes are used by our digestive systems to break down different foods. This is a big and complex subject. Perhaps the main point is that some of our best loved fruits do not combine too well with each other when eaten at the same time.
Here's a look at the classification of fruit from the perspective of nutrition and digestibility.
Acids fruits are so called because when the pulp or juice is tested chemically the results indicate an acid reaction. Citrus fruits are generally quite acid. They contain citric acid and ascorbic acid (vitamin C) in varying amounts. There are lots of different types of citrus fruits, from oranges and lemons to minneolas, kumquats and uglis.
Among the acid fruits, oranges are a fantastic source of vitamin C - generally better than lemons or limes. They are also a good source of calcium and the calcium they provide is often better absorbed than that from milk and other dairy foods.
Uglis were developed as a type of "tangelo" - itself a cross between grapefruit and tangerine and orange. Uglis were developed in Jamaica and are sometimes recommended above grapefruit because they do not contain furanocoumarins which can react with some medicines. They also contain a high percentage of vitamin C.
Citrus fruits are often recommended for "detoxifying" the system. They can certainly help put a spring in your step. It is best to avoid eating them with wheat or other grains as this can be a digestive challenge for most people.
Other acid fruits include pineapples and the sourer apples and plums. Sour fruits may give you stomach aches, especially if you eat them with other foods or in excess.
Acid fruits do not combine well with sweet fruits. If you notice problems digesting acid fruits try them on their own, at least half an hour before eating anything else.
All types of fruit:
Fruits which are slightly acid in effect are sometimes called "sub-acid" fruits. In this category are most of the common berry fruits, soft fruits such as cane fruits, and apples. Like the more acid fruits above they are best digested on their own. They can provide almost instant energy that way as fruit sugars can be quickly absorbed on an empty stomach.
Some of these fruits also provide some of our best dessert experiences but again beware of eating too much fruit on an already full stomach. Sub-acid fruits are also called low acid fruits.
Sub-acid fruits include apples, apricots, blackberries, cherries, mangoes and strawberries.
Sub acid fruits usually combine well with acid fruits or with sweet fruits - but not both at the same time. This is because of the different enzymes produced by the body during digestion.
All types of fruit:
Sweet fruits, as the name implies, are noticeably sweet to taste. Pears and dates and sweet grapes fall into this category. Most dried fruits, too are classed as sweet fruits. With some of these fruits there is a danger of concentrated sugars in the fruit damaging your tooth enamel if you eat them too much or too often.
Sweet fruits combine well with sub-acid fruits but do not combine well with acid fruits. If you notice sluggishness or any discomfort after eating combinations of fruits, always try them on an empty stomach and/or keep to the food combining rules!
Melons are often classified separately from other fruits because they are best digested alone. Nevertheless, if you are only practising food combining as an aid to digestion, it has to be said that melons can be a fantastic addition in many fruit salads!
All types of fruit:
One other classification of fruit which is well worth a mention: berries.
Berries, it turns out are not really an exact classification - the botany gets complicated. Some such as raspberries are really clusters of fruit. Others such as cranberries are called false berries because they do not form from a flower.
But we all know the common meaning - small fruits without pits or stones. Here, small is beautiful!
Berries are superfoods!
Berries are really super foods. They are so full of vitamins and antioxidants they really deserve to be included in everyone's diets. Often the wild species out-do the cultivars - they are richer in antioxidants, vitamins and phytochemicals. (Phytochemicals are plant chemicals with therapeutic uses.)
Some berries have a crucial role in fighting disease. For example, research shows that blueberries are potent anti-cancer agents. Cranberries are now well known for their ability to reduce inflammation and help urinary tract infections.
Anthocyanins are found in many reddish coloured fruits and berries in particular. They have been shown to benefit people suffering from cancer, diabetes, ageing and bacterial infections and inflammation. Some neurological conditions can also be helped. Anthocyanins are a type of flavonoid (or bioflavonoid). The distinctive red colour is common to many fruits and berries.
It is now thought that the cleansing and immune system properties helped by bioflavonoids may be caused by the body's purging of them rather than the bioflavonoids themselves. (See the Linus Pauling Institute for more on this.)
Whatever the details of the truth, it is clear that berries are rich superfoods which we ignore at out peril! They are also good for the environment of course, as birds and many mammals thrive on them too. Organic production methods are generally best, both from the perspective of human health and the wider environment.
All types of fruit:
Well that's a question pretty much like "How long is a piece of string?" It depends upon where you are in the world and what suits your individual digestion and pocket. All types of fruit will have some benefits for most people if eaten in moderation. And probably all types of fruit will provoke an adverse reaction in some people. Strawberries are a common allergen, for example.
Nevertheless we can draw some conclusions about some of the best fruits for particular dietary needs. As always on Greenfootsteps, I have to put in a good word for organic foods. Fruits grown without pesticides or fertilisers based on petrochemicals are generally better for us and the planet.
This site is all about green living and taking good care of your own health is a part of that. Organic food is generally healthier food and is far more sustainable than common food. We need to make organic food the norm, rather than something that we need to seek out.
Organic foods tend to be more expensive. Please see organic foods for more about them and ways to find organic foods which are not so costly.
From a green living perspective it is important to source a good proportion of our fruit from as nearby as possible.
Now, I am not for a moment advocating that we regularly eat fruits from half way around the globe - the carbon consequences are just too severe. Fortunately there are many fruits which are grown in many locations so that relatively local supplies can be found. This is not always the case for people in more northern latitudes. Tropical fruits may be in limited supply if you live more than 40 degrees north!
Nevertheless, all types of fruit varieties are available to most people and most of us need not compromise on nutrition.Where you source your fruit is up to you. I can only put in a plea to you to see whether you can source most of it locally or fairly locally.
Urban foraging is trend which is growing. You might just find all kinds of fruit growing nearby, even if you live in town. Here in England we don't get oranges but there's a wonderful selection of apples, pears, berries and many plum varieties just growing by the sides of roads and paths.
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