Monday, June 25, 2012


Health experts world over are unanimous in their opinion that regular consumption of fruits and vegetables can be best insurance against developing life crippling diseases which are so abundant to day affecting the lives of millions of people. The American "Food Pyramid" dietary guidelines of yesteryears as well as the current "Food Plate" version recommend that fruits and vegetables must form a substantial part of the every day diet to avoid health related problems. It is another matter that cost of these protective foods rules high compared to those foods which are calorie dense because of high sugar and fat components.  While dietary fiber, vitamins and minerals are available in plenty in most fruits and vegetables, they are also rich sources of a variety of phytochemicals with  varying healthy attributes. Many colored fruits are supposed to contain many chemicals like anthocyanins with high antioxidant properties capable of neutralizing oxyradicals generated at the cellular level and protect from dreaded diseases like cancer. According to a very recent study, phenolic substances present in stone fruits like peaches can protect human beings from diseases including diabetes. Here is a take on this new findings.    

"What is unique to these fruits, he said, is that their mixture of the bioactive compounds work simultaneously within the different components of the disease. "Our work shows that the four major phenolic groups – anthocyanins, clorogenic acids, quercetin derivatives and catechins – work on different cells – fat cells, macrophages and vascular endothelial cells," he explained. "They modulate different expressions of genes and proteins depending on the type of compound. "However, at the same time, all of them are working simultaneously in different fronts against the components of the disease, including obesity, inflammation, diabetes and cardiovascular disease," he explained. Cisneros-Zevallos said this is believed to be the first time that "bioactive compounds of a fruit have been shown to potentially work in different fronts against a disease."

It is notable that these fruits contain all the four major phenolic compounds which were found to act simultaneously on different cells to prevent the diseases posing much danger but if this finding is true the natural question that follows is whether other colored fruits do not have the same make up of phenolic compounds as in stone fruits? The phenolic chemical make up in most fruits is well known but what is not clear is their bio-availability to the body after the fruits are consumed. If consuming fruits like peaches can be a panacea for good health, there is a case for promoting their production through incentives and making the same available at low prices affordable to people, especially to vulnerable groups who over eat cheap junk foods leading to body over weight. One is reminded of the "famed" space juice evolved by the NASA for astronauts to protect them from UV radiation during space travel. This is a concoction of juices derived from 10 plant sources rich in anti-oxidants and found effective in counter acting the aging process and skin deterioration. Unless more clarity emerges in this field it is difficult to take at face value claims like the one made above and blindly start eating stone fruits. Of course no harm will be done even if these fruits become a regular part of the diet.    


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