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FRUITS

The term fruit implies here to mean the edible envelope containing the seeds of a plant or tree. The common fruits are banana, orange, sweet lime, guava, grapes, papaya, chikoo, apple, pineapple, pomegranate and various types of berries. In the tropics fruits are a delicacy and are relatively expensive. 

Raw fruit contains varying proportions of starch which, in the process of ripening, is converted into fructose and glucose. These impart a sweet taste and are readily absorbed. Fresh fruits also contain vitamin C. The flavor of fruits is due to the presence of various organic acids, such as citric, malic and tartaric acids. Fruits may contain up to 90% water and so can also be eaten to quench thirst. 

Fructose intolerance is a rare condition in which there may be severe hypoglycemia on eating fruits. Frits should be avoided by people predisposed to types 3, 4, or 5 hyperlipoproteinemia, because fructose stimulates more lipid synthesis than glucose.


BANANA

Banana is perhaps the cheapest and the most extensively eaten fruit in the tropics. There are many varieties, each with a distinctive flavor; the word plantain is generally used for the coarser types. An average green banana weighs about 150 g, of which two-thirds is edible, the rest being inedible skin. It supplies more calories than other fresh fruits, with an average sized banana providing 100 kcal.

Raw banana is usually eaten ripe, though it can be cooked. The digestion and absorption of banana depend on the starch content. The latter depends on the ripening: it is 37% in the least ripe, and 3% in the most ripe. Ripe banana contains carbohydrates in the form of sucrose, fructose and glucose which are readily digested.

Bananas contain 5-hydroxytryptamine (serotonin); a high banana diet results in a rise in its urinary excretory product, 5-hydroxyindolacetic acid (5-HIAA)

Clinical Uses

In some constipated people, bananas act as a mild laxative. They can be given as a source of calories in a non-residue diet; for example, in diarrhea and in ulcerative colitis. A high banana diet probably increases the butyric acid concentration in the colon, and this may control diarrhea by inhibiting the growth of B. coli. Steamed banana leaves are effectively used for dressing burn wounds.


MANGO

Mango is a tropical fruit available during the hot season. The flavour of mango varies with the quality, the Alphonso variety being widely considered the best. Raw mango is widely used for preparing pickles and in cooking, as the gallic acid in itimparts a sour taste to the food. 

Ripe mango is commonly eaten in large amounts and provides a good source of calories during season. Depending on its size, a mango supplies 50-100 kcal, mainly derived from fructose. An average mango supplies 25 mg vitamin C and over 10000 units (142 micromols) carotene. The total carotenoid content in mango increases with the stage of ripening, and is 12.5 g per 100 g ripe fresh pulp. About 60% of the carotenoids is betacarotene; this is much higher than in other fruits. Eating too many mangoesmay impart a yellow tinge to the skin due to carotenemia.

Clinical Uses

Mango is an excellent source of vitamins A and C and of calories. The diet of an average indian is low in vitamin A, and eating mangoes in season may provide a store of vitamin A in the liver, sufficient to last for the rest of the year.
 


CITRUS FRUITS

Citrus fruits contain citric acid. This is metabolized into carbonate, and if sufficient quantities are taken, the urine becomes alkaline. The common citrus fruits are orange, tangarine, sweet lime, grapes, lour lime, and grape fruit. Tangerine (extensively grown in tropical countries) is a variety of orange with a loose skin which can be easily peeled. 

 Citrus fruits may precipitate an attack of allergic rhinitis in those susceptible to it. An anaphylactoid reaction to orange has been described. Intestinasl obstruction due to the ingestion of orange pith, after partial gastrectomy, has also been described.

Clinical Uses

The juice of citrus fruits is a very refreshing drink during fevers, and for patients with severe liver damage. It also supplies vitamin C. The high potassium content makes it unsuitable for patients with oliguric renal failure.


PAPAYA

Papaya is a tropical fruit. The unripe fruit is rich source of papain, which is a "vegetable pepsin" capable of digesting protein in acid, alkaline or neutral medium. Because of this property, raw papaya is used during cooking to soften tough meat or dal. Patients with celiac disease who cannot digest the wheat protein gliadin, can tolerateit if it is treated with crude (not crystalline) papain. 

Ripe papaya is rich in carotene, and excessive consumption produces carotenemia.

Clinical Uses
Papaya can be prescribed for dyspeptic patients, as the pepsin may help in the digestion of proteins. Papaya seeds have an antithelminthic action. A protein digestive enzyme chymopapain, derived from papaya, is used for injection into herniated intervertebral lumbar discs to relieve pain caused by the pressure on nerves. 


APPLE AND POMEGRANATE

Apple is rich in pectin, a constituent of the cell wall. Pectin is a hemicellulose capable of absorbing water, and forms a gel on heating with sugars, as when making jams. Depending on the quality , fresh apple may contain 2% - 5% pectin. Apple also contains an appreciable amount of tannin.

Pomegranate is rich in tannin, which acts as an astringent in the intestine and precipitates food proteins.

Clinical Use
Apples and pomegranate are usually advised in diarrhea, but there is no evidence to prove their efficacy in this condition.

Alar
Alar is a chemical that can control the ripening of apples: it is thus used to grow larger and more uniform sized apples. Alar was previously banned because it produced cancer in mice; the dose required for this was, however, 35000 times the amount consumed by children.


GUAVA

This is a relatively cheap fruit relished particularly by children and a rich source of vitamin C (212 mg per 100 g). As this is grown extensively guava provides the cheapest source of vitamin C. Unripe guavas may lead to intestinal colic because of the acids they contain, The ripe fruit, on the other hand, may be helpful in constipation


AMLA

Amla is the subject of many interest for tropical nutritionists because of its high content of vitamin C (600 mg per 100 g). However, it has an extremely sour taste.


BAEL FRUIT

Bael fruit is eaten for its medicinal value. It contains pectin, mucilagenous principle, and tannin, all of which are useful for the treatment of diarrhea and dysentery.


GRAPES

Grapes are a seasonal fruit. The carbohydrate, and therefore the calorie content vary according to the variet. The carbohydrate present in grape sugar (glucose) is readily absorbed through the stomach and intestine without further digestion. Grapes contain only 3 mg vitamin C per 100 g, and so are a poorer source of vitamin than citrus fruits.

Clinical Uses

Because they contain glucose, grapes from delicious, nutritious food and drink for patients with fever and for invalids. Intestinal distension may occur if grapes are consumed in large quantities.


FRUIT RELATED DRUGS AND AILMENTS

LAETRILE(AMYGDALIN) 
Laetrile, prepared from the pits of apricot, bitter almond, peach, cherry, plus, etc, was claimed to be effective against cancer. A trial conducted by National Cancer Institute showed no such benefit. The purified extract of amygdalin contains cyanide and can cause cyanide poisoning.

JAMAICAN VOMITING SICKNESS
Eating the unripe akee fruit, which is prevalent in Jamaica, results in fatal hypoglydcemia, This fruit contains hypoglycin, which decreases sugar synthesis (neoglucogenesis) in the liver and inhibits long chain fatty acid transport into the mitochondria.


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