Fruits are among the healthiest foods you can eat. However, many diets set guidelines not only for what you eat, but when you eat it. According to modern and ancient nutrition systems, your body digests and derives benefit from fruit very differently, whether you have a banana for breakfast or a bowl of berries for dessert.
Many traditional and contemporary diets focus on the combination of foods instead of the particular ingredients that one should eat or avoid. An Ayurvedic diet, for example, advises eating fruits separately from other food groups, particularly proteins. Foods with high levels of sugar, including fruity desserts, are also contraindicated after a meal. Instead, fruit is advised for breakfast, to be eaten at room temperature. Contemporary food-combining diets may advise against mixing sweet fruits with proteins, nuts, acidic fruits or starches. According to Dr. Stanley S. Bass, a proponent of detox diets, healing fasts and food combining, eating raw fruits with cooked meals also impedes digestion.
If you work out or play sports regularly, time your fruit consumption for a short while before exercise. Snack on fresh fruit or a fruit smoothie shortly before your training to keep up your energy level but avoid the sensation of a full stomach. Melons and other fruits high in water, and as preexercise snacks, they help hydrate the body and offer natural sugars that are quickly available for energy. Just as fruit helps you during exercise, regular exercise can help your ability to digest fruit. Physical activity improves insulin's ability to transport sugar to the body's cells, which helps the body to use the sugar from fruit more steadily and effectively.
Ayurvedic and Chinese medical and dietary systems advise eating according to the season. The spring and summer are ideal times for eating the many ripening fruits. The Ayurvedic system advises a low-fat diet during the spring, and fruits are a low-fat choice. In the summer, a mixture of sweet, raw fruits and bitter vegetables is advised.
If you're eating fruit to comply with specific dietary needs, consult with a nutritionist or your primary health provider before adopting a new eating plan. You may receive different advice, according to your specific dietary needs. For example, combining citrus fruits with rice increased the body's absorption of iron, according to findings published in the "British Journal of Nutrition." The Guelph Food Research Center has found that combining certain berries with legumes, such as strawberries with adzuki beans, can improve the antioxidant properties of each food.
- "American College of Healthcare Sciences"; Cleansing for the Season with Ayurvedic Detoxification and Rejuvenation; Gia von Karl
- Life Science International Fasting Center: Sequential Eating and Food Combining
- MayoClinic.com: Eating and Exercise: 5 Tips to Maximize your Workouts
- FredericPatenaude.com: Is There a Food Better Than Fruit?
- "British Journal of Nutrition"; The Effects of Fruit Juices and Fruits on the Absorption of Iron from a Rice Meal. Ballot D, et al; May 1987
- "Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry"; Synergistic, Additive, and Antagonistic Effects of Food Mixtures on Total Antioxidant Capacities; Wang S, et al; January 2011