Nature’s Delicacies in Summer and its Benefits


Dr. Judith Lobo, Muscat

12 May 2010: Summer season has already arrived. It is the season where the sun rays are at their highest peak. The extreme heat demands the body for more energy and fluid requirement. The Nature prepares itself for summer and it’s God’s plan of taking care of His creation by providing us the best and natural food during the season of summer. The Nature’s best available food are the fruits that grow in summer season and meet all the requirements of body’s energy including vitamins and minerals essential for the nourishment of the body and maintenance of health. Fruits in general are good for health in many ways-good for the immune system, digestion, healthier skin, hair and eyes, good for heart and better blood circulation and also good for the nervous and respiratory systems. Hence, it is beneficial to include these gifts of Nature in the form of fruits in our daily diet.

What is the nature’s contribution for this summer season? Summer along with the scorching heat also brings these sensational  seasonal fruits like pineapples, watermelons, mangoes, cherries, strawberries and papayas along with other fruits. These fruits not only satisfy our taste buds but are also important as part of a healthy diet. They provide vital vitamins and minerals, fiber, phytochemical and antioxidants with negligible amount of fat.

Water melon: Watermelon is unusually nutritious which also provides a lot of potassium and vitamins-A, C, and B6. As watermelon is 92-percent water, it goes a long way toward satisfying the daily water requirement of the body in summer when water loss is more from the body. Watermelon contains more lycopene than any other fresh fruit or vegetable. Lycopene, besides being the red pigment that gives the flesh its colour is also an antioxidant known to help in prevention of cancer. Studies have shown that people who get lots of lycopene have a lower risk of prostate, uterine and esophageal cancer. For weight watchers it is good filler with less calories helping to lose excess weight.

Berries: Strawberries are more common and with their stems intact hey can be stored up to one year with or without added sugar. The phytochemicals in strawberries help to boost immunity, have a protective effect against cancer, protection against heart diseases and circulatory problems. They also protect against macular degeneration.

Mango: Mango is referred to as the ‘king of fruits’. Mango is rich in a variety of phytochemicals and nutrients. The fruit pulp is high in dietary fiber, vitamin C,polyphenols, and provitamin A carotenoids. Mango contains essential vitamins (A, B, C, E, and K) and dietary minerals such as potassium, copper and 17 amino acids at good levels. Mango peel and pulp contain other phytonutrients such as the pigment antioxidants-carotenoids and polyphenols and omega-3 and 6 types of acids. Mango being high in calories and carbohydrates it is good for those who are trying to gain weight.

The phenolic compound mangoes has been found to have powerful antioxidant and anticancer properties. Being high in iron, mango is said to be very good for pregnant women as well as for people suffering from anemia. Mango is believed to be effective in relieving clogged pores of the skin. The vitamin A (beta-carotene), vitamin E and selenium present in mangoes provide protection against heart disease. Mangoes have been found to be quite helpful in treating acidity and poor digestion.

Peaches and plums: Though low in calories, one cup of sliced peaches has only 60 calories and comprises of 80 percent water. Peaches are also packed with fiber, vitamins, minerals, and carotenoids. The dose of fiber in peaches acts as a gentle laxative, aids digestion, and may also help combat cancer. The fruit is rich in cancer-fighting vitamin A in the form of beta carotene, as well as the immune-boosting vitamin C, which also protects against heart disease. Rich in iron and potassium, peaches help ensure proper functioning of cells, the balance of fluid and electrolytes in the body, and nerve signaling. Two carotenoids found in peaches-Lutein and zeaxanthin help to guard against blindness caused by age-related macular degeneration.

Papayas: This highly loved tropical fruit was reputably called “The Fruit of the Angels” by Christopher Columbus. Papayas offer not only the best taste but are rich sources of antioxidant nutrients such as carotenes, vitamin C and flavonoids. Together, these nutrients promote the health of the cardiovascular system and also provide protection against colon cancer. In addition, papaya contains the digestive enzyme, papain, which is used like bromelain, a similar enzyme found in pineapple, to treat sports injuries, other causes of trauma, and allergies. Papayas may be very helpful for the prevention of atherosclerosis and diabetic heart disease. Papayas are an excellent source of vitamin C as well as a good source of vitamin A, which are powerful antioxidants.

These nutrients help in preventing the oxidation of cholesterol. Only when cholesterol becomes oxidized is it able to stick to and build up in blood vessel walls, forming dangerous plaques that can eventually cause heart attacks or strokes. One way in which dietary vitamin E and vitamin C may exert this effect is through their suggested association with a compound called paraoxonase, an enzyme that inhibits LDL cholesterol and HDL cholesterol oxidation.

Pineapples – A sweet tropical food which meets the nutritional requirement as it is being packed with most of the vitamins and minerals. Pineapple is a very good source of an enzyme bromelain which aids digestion and gives protection against free radicals a substance that attacks healthy cells.

Caution: A fresh fruit juice will also help to satisfy thirst and avoid dehydration in summer months. But avoid consuming preserved fruit juices which contains preservatives, added sugar and negligible fiber in it.


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