Nurition Q&A: Eat a variety of fruits for better health

Nutrition and Dietetics expert, Parvathy Radhakrishnan answers readers’ questions on nutrition. Get your doubts cleared and see them featured on our FAQ page every Wednesday.

This week’s answers:

1. My husband is having cholesterol as well as BP. He is smoking and drinking as well. Please suggest if these is good or not.
Smoking is a single most risky factor for heart diseases and the top cause for cancers of the lung, throat and breast.

You are inhaling more than 60 carcinogens when you smoke. Secondhand smoking (or environmental tobacco smoke) which is smoking inhaled by people around a smoker is found to be equally dangerous.  Children exposed to second hand smoking are more susceptible to develop allergies, ear infections, asthma and bronchitis. Definitely your husband should quit smoking especially as he is already at risk for heart disease because of having high cholesterol and hypertension.

Moderate drinking is now considered acceptable. This means not more than two drinks a day. Having said this you must also know that drinking has its own health hazards like liver damage.

2. I have heard a lot about flax? How can I add this in our family meals daily?
Flax seeds may be ground and used as it digests better when it is ground. One tablespoon full of ground flax seeds supplies the daily adequate intake of omega 3 fatty acids (1.6 gms)

Add the ground seeds to green salad or raita, breakfast cereals or mix in sandwich fillings, chutneys. Alternatively, its oil can be used as salad dressing.

3. My son dislikes whole wheat bread. What are the other whole grain foods I can give him apart from chapathi?
Some whole grain foods your son may enjoy are:

1. Ready to eat whole grain cereals

2. Oatmeal

3. Corn as corn on the cob or used in salad, as sandwich filling, or popcorn

4. Wheat upumas, whole wheat pasta, barley soup, sprouted ragi or wheat dosa

4. My husband is 69 years old, diabetic. We heard recently that he can eat guava and papaya? Is it safe, and if so how much can he eat?
Yes, guava and papaya are very nutritious fruits for everyone including diabetics. One small guava and 1/2 cup of papaya cubes a day are fine if eaten at different times and fit into your husband’s daily calorie intake.

5. Dear Maam, we remove the peels of all fruits because of the pesticides. Pl tell me if it is ok to remove them?
This is indeed an issue of concern in the medical community. You could wash the fruits under running water, rubbing them clean firmly. Use only water (no detergents) to clean fruits and vegetables. Vinegar may also be used but the fruit may retain an after taste of the vinegar.

Removing the skin of fruits reduces their nutritive value. But if you are still concerned then peel the skin.

Also you could try choosing fruits where we would anyway remove the inedible skin. Even then wash the fruits before removing the peel.

6. I am a 46 year old cholesterol patient. I eat in moderation, but have a liking for banana, I eat one every night. Pl tell me if it is ok to eat banana or substitute with other fruits, and is it safe to eat fruits after meals.

All fruits are good including bananas, but if you are looking for fruits specifically to reduce cholesterol, then eating guava, apples, pears, peaches, prunes, strawberries, oranges, pomegranates are important. It is healthier to vary fruits than stick to one kind. Basically fruits where the skin and seeds are eaten will have more cholesterol lowering fibre.

It is perfectly safe to eat fruits after meals.

Parvathy is a trained Nutrition & Dietetics expert and a member the Research Society for the Study of Diabetes in India.

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