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That fruit looks healthy… er… no, not really. January 26, 2008

Posted by WorldbyStorm in Health.
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The Guardian had a somewhat thought provoking piece in the G2 section on Wednesday about the real benefits of fruit consumption.

It noted that:

The reason apples are good for you is mainly the cellulose and vitamin C; chewing gives a feeling of satiety and promotes saliva secretion, which is good for your teeth; and because, in the real world, they tend to come as part of a deliberate lifestyle. “People who eat apples probably ride a bike and don’t smoke,” says Sanders. Except for the truly fanatic, they are also more likely to eat them in moderation.

Wait… eat apples, ride a bike, don’t smoke. Hey, that’s me they’re talking about. But let me say, my fruit consumption is… considerable. Three or four apples a day, a banana, fruit drinks, a kiwi… or two. And all because… well, because apples are meant to be healthy. And yes, the extract above does note that they are ‘good for you’. But apparently not quite as ‘good’ as previously advertised. And not just apples but all fruit.

The one thing that is in nobody’s interest to say is this: fruit just doesn’t provide that much nutrition in the first place.

This is bad, bad news. All those apples, that banana, the kiwi… wasted?

If you believe the nutrition industry, every week produces some new superfood, often a fruit: blueberries, pomegranates, acai berries. The fact is that fruit consists of water, sugars (normally about 10%), some vitamin C, and some potassium (thought to be good for controlling blood pressure). And that’s kind of it. Pineapple, for example, has only got about 10mg of vitamin C per 100g (which means a 80g standard portion would only have about 12% of RDA) and is mainly water and sugar. In a typical supermarket fruit medley of 150-200g, at least 15g will be sugar, and the other major constituent water. If it’s a citrus medley, there will be about 40mg per 100g of vitamin C, if not, there will be about 10-20mg.

So what should we be eating?

“The foods packed full of micronutrients are grains, seeds and nuts, the peas and things.” Bagged salad? “It’s mainly water. Dark green vegetables are a good source of some vitamins, such as vitamin A and folate, but lettuce hasn’t got much going for it at all. “

And a note of pathos…

The really sad thing is that we don’t eat enough vegetables, such as cabbage, spinach and broccoli.”

It is sad, isn’t it?
And all that stuff about ‘superfoods’?

The antioxidants in pomegranate juice, which supposedly fight diseases as different as cancer and arthritis, actually only last in the body for an hour. Wheatgrass, that standby of the trendy juicebar, is said to be rich in detoxifying chlorophyll, but every green vegetable and leaf in the world contains cholorophyll – which is not, in fact, absorbable by our bodies.

Still, who can’t identify with the following about ‘smoothies’:

Nor do dietitians have much time for the rise of the smoothie, sales of which have increased by 523% in the past five years. They are expensive, says Sanders, “and bloody holier than thou”.

They are though, aren’t they. I won’t mention a certain brand which proclaims its virtuous nature, but there is something about its glib cheeriness on the packaging which is enormously off-putting. But this is perhaps even more off-putting…

With whole fruit, the cell structure is still intact, and you swallow pieces. They take longer to digest and the sugar in them is released slowly, rather than the rapid spike in blood glucose produced by drinking juice, or a smoothie. “If you liquidise it into goo it’s just like drinking ordinary Coke. Or worse, actually,” he says.

Worse? How so?

“It’s still a sugary drink. A lot of people on diets don’t realise that if they’re drinking loads of apple juice or orange juice, it’s got a lot of calories in. If you drink a litre of apple juice a day, it’ll be 400 calories.” Saunders particularly objects to labelling that implies that drinking these concentrates substitutes for three or four portions a day: “They don’t. They only count for one.”

Sugar… literally.

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Comments»

1. Eagle - January 26, 2008

I don’t smoke, but I don’t bike either. And I don’t like Al Gore. But, I still like apples. I go through phases. One a day for a few weeks then a few weeks off.

Oranges are a different story. I’ll eat a whole bag in one sitting and then not have another one for weeks.

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2. WorldbyStorm - January 26, 2008

And according to that article as long as you eat your spinach and broccoli you’re fine! I like broccoli.

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3. soubresauts - January 26, 2008

I have to say, the article is a predictable mixture of semi-useful news & views with a heap of agenda-driven junk science. When you investigate the “authorities” quoted there, you see that once again it’s naive journalists being taken for a ride.

I hadn’t paid any attention to the Institute of Food Research before, but it seems to be a front for the Biotechnology industry. Their Links page is a giveaway:
http://www.ifr.ac.uk/websites/scienceweblinks.HTML
That includes the Sense About Science outfit — the weird Living Marxism crowd who have become the political wing of the multinational corporations.

And, inevitably, the British Nutrition Foundation — a front for the sugar lobby. The BNF’s history (quoting from their website):
“The British Nutrition Foundation was set up in July 1967… established as an independent organisation to stimulate research and education in the field of nutrition. Nine food companies provided a financial guarantee for the venture, of which Marks & Spencer Ltd, Tate & Lyle Ltd and Unilever PLC are still member companies today. Other companies that have remained with us from the start include Cadburys, Sainsbury’s and Procter & Gamble.
“… Above all the British Nutrition Foundation remains an impartial voice in the current nutritional debate.”  [What a joke!]

I could comb through the article and pick out the useful pieces of information, but it doesn’t deserve it.

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4. Lobby Ludd - January 27, 2008

It looks like a varied diet of fruit, veg, cereals, dairy products and possibly meat, with not too much of anything, is a good idea.

That’s a relief.

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5. Lobby Ludd - January 27, 2008

and nuts

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6. WorldbyStorm - January 27, 2008

Thanks soubresauts. You give me no little comfort that ingesting the fruit is a good thing.

Nuts, very very important… zinc or selenium, one or both, can’t remember though which…

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7. Mbari - January 27, 2008

It’s hard to see the “agenda” behind this article, except to remind people that fruit is not the solution to all dietary problems. It’s sad that a common sense article on nutrition can inspire biotechnology-Living Marxism conspiracy theories.

That said, I eat terribly and smoke heavily. So I’m already well aware that a few apples won’t help me much.

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8. WorldbyStorm - January 27, 2008

You never know…

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9. soubresauts - January 28, 2008

It’s hard to see the “agenda” behind this article…

No, it’s not hard, Mbari. You can easily find out about all the things I referred to. It’s not only the food industry of course, but you shouldn’t underestimate how big that is and how much skullduggery is involved.

The Guardian shed some light on all this a few years ago when they published this article by George Monbiot:
http://www.monbiot.com/archives/2003/12/09/invasion-of-the-entryists/

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10. chekov - January 28, 2008

soubresauts, the big problem with your approach is that you are actually ignoring the evidence altogether and attacking the sources of evidence. I mean, you haven’t said anything at all about the important question – how healthy and nutritional is fruit? If there is something wrong with the science in the article you should point it out – you have, however, thusfar singularly failed to do so.

As far as I can see the nutritional information in the article is correct and it’s conclusion is valid. If this is the case it really doesn’t matter who has put it forward. Even George Bush occassionaly says things that are true!

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11. soubresauts - January 28, 2008

The article said:
“The reason apples are good for you is mainly the cellulose and vitamin C…”

That sort of pap, along with quotes from the BNF and their allies, is enough for me. I don’t care what those people believe or say about fruit, or any food. I wouldn’t give the article the time of day.

Anyway, chekov, I don’t ignore evidence, and I do question — and sometimes attack — the sources of evidence. What would you do?

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12. copernicus - January 28, 2008

This article is bizarre. It basically suggests that because fruit isn’t the natural equivalent of an A to Z vitamin tablet, that you’re practically wasting your time eating it. It completely ignores the roughage utility of fruit and it rather bizarrely implies that all calories are alike.

The point surely is that unrefined sugars are better because they release energy slowly and your body is less likely to convert them to fat. So no, it’s not like drinking Coke.

Wonder why the refined sugar pimps would want to imply otherwise?

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13. copernicus - January 28, 2008

This article is bizarre. It basically suggests that because fruit isn’t the natural equivalent of an A to Z vitamin tablet, that you’re practically wasting your time eating it. As if we haven’t heard of the “balanced” diet.

It completely ignores the roughage utility of fruit and it rather bizarrely implies that all calories are alike.

The point surely is that unrefined sugars are better because they release energy slowly and your body is less likely to convert them to fat. So no, it’s not like drinking Coke.

Wonder why the refined sugar pimps would want to imply otherwise?

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14. Mbari - January 28, 2008

So one of the sources quoted in this article is connected to Sense About Science through an online link– therefore this Guardian piece on fruit must be another step in the RCP’s sinister campaign to take over the media.

Get a grip.

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15. WorldbyStorm - January 28, 2008

One of the things that always put me off juicers was the pulp that’s left over. That always struck me, as copernicus notes, as basically the best of the fruit. Mind you, I do like smoothiesl. There is some interesting data from fertility clinics as to the utility in raising sperm counts and preventing DNA fragmentation for those who drink bucketfulls of smoothies…

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16. chekov - January 29, 2008

“That sort of pap, along with quotes from the BNF and their allies, is enough for me. I don’t care what those people believe or say about fruit, or any food. I wouldn’t give the article the time of day.”

You still haven’t said a single thing that’s actually wrong with it! What’s wrong with the statement that you are taking issue with? I genuinely don’t have a clue.

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17. Bartholomew - January 29, 2008

Goerge Bush Sr.: “I do not like broccoli. And I haven’t liked it since I was a little kid and my mother made me eat it. I’m President of the United States and I’m not going to eat any more broccoli.”

So, another good reason for eating broccoli.

And the way to cook it was revealed by Ian Wright in an interview. ‘Before Wenger came’, he said, ‘Arsenal players ate steak, chips and beer. Now it’s just grilled broccoli.’ As soon as I read that interview I tried it, and Wenger, as always, was right. Delicious!

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18. WorldbyStorm - January 29, 2008

Does anyone have a recipe for grilled broccoli? I looked it up but couldn’t see one…

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19. Mbari - January 29, 2008

The way we do it, we put the broccoli on a barbeque stir fry pan and put a bit of olive oil, lemon juice, and pepper on. Cucumber, zucchini, etc. also taste good that way.

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20. WorldbyStorm - January 29, 2008

Is this then put under the grill? Otherwise isn’t that stir-fried broccoli though?

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21. Mbari - January 29, 2008

It’s put on the grill. My description of the pan used might be off– it is like a stir fry pan but has holes in it which allow contact with the grill without the vegetables falling through and getting charred. Skewering would probably also work though.

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22. WorldbyStorm - January 29, 2008

Cool, worth a try. Thanks…

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23. Phil - January 30, 2008

It’s put on the grill.

On, as in heat from underneath? (I had a long discussion of grills vs barbecues with some American friends once, for most of which we were talking at cross purposes.)

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24. Mbari - January 30, 2008

Yeah, as in heat from underneath. I’m talking about a Weber charcoal barbeque here. I’m not exactly sure how I’d do vegetables in the oven.

Did you know Bobby Seale, former Chairman of the Black Panther Party, is an expert on Southern-style BBQing? Some of his recipes look pretty good, too. http://www.bobbyqueseale.com/freereci.html

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25. Lila - June 11, 2011

There’s so much different info about foodgroups out there. One team says don’t eat grains the other team says do eat grains. and now this depressing news. WTH am i supposed to eat!!?????

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