Prescription Fruit

Photo credit: pykmi / Flickr
Photo credit: pykmi / Flickr

Fruits are generally regarded as an essential part of a healthy diet. Recently however, some fruits have gained a reputation. Those dishing out nutritional advice have started to talk about fruits almost as if they are drugs and “prescribing” specific fruits for specific conditions. By prescribing specific fruits and excluding others that you “don’t need”, you might be missing out on a wide range of health benefits.

Bananas for example, are most widely regarded for their potassium power. Numerous research studies have shown that potassium is essential to keeping your heart healthy and your blood pressure in check. By providing nearly 14% of your daily potassium needs, a banana is certainly a good choice for heart health. The heart however, is not the only vital organ the banana can help defend.

An Australian research study showed that bananas provide significant protection against ulcers. A second study by Aston University in the UK looked more specifically at a flavonoid extracted from green bananas. The study showed that the extract helped to prevent stomach erosion caused by aspirin. Other research shows that eaten whole green bananas can help the body absorb vital nutrients more easily.

Bananas have benefited from their healthy heart connection. Not all fruits have been so fortunate. Prunes, already slightly stigmatized, have suffered greatly from prescription fruit thinking. Widely regarded only for their laxative effects, prune sales have suffered. The problem has become bad enough that marketers have spent millions re-branding prunes as “dried plums”.

Those same marketing teams recently got some help form Tufts University. A study by the university showed that prunes contain more antioxidants than any other fruit. Several other studies including one performed by Professor Bahram H. Arjmandi in 2004 show that prunes also have significant bone building potential.

Cranberries come in a close second to prunes in being labeled for a very specific effect. Cranberry juice is widely regarded as being an effective ward against and treatment for bladder infections. The bladder bug may not be the only thing cranberries can stomp out.

Studies are now showing that cranberry juice may fight a much wider range of infection. A number of university studies have now shown cranberry juice to be effective against other types of infection – including some antibiotic restraint strains of E. coli.

Cranberry juice may also play a role in managing cholesterol. Multiple studies including one reported in the British Journal of Nutrition have shown that cranberry juice can raise the amount of HDL (good) cholesterol in the blood.

The list of single purpose prescription fruit seems to be ever growing. Recently blueberries have come to be widely touted for their brain boosting power. Less publicized is researchers from Rutgers University that shows that blueberries may also help prevent colon cancer.

It may time to stop playing favorites with fruits. Unlike the drugs they are starting to be treated like, mixing fruits could be a good thing. Take as many as you can as often as possible.

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