Fruits are considered nature’s perfect foods. They are the only pure offering from nature, as a ripe fruit from the tree may actually drop into our hand. The fruit is the result of a healthy growing cycle of life for most plants and the bearer or potentiator of life, as it carries the seeds for the next generation of trees and plants.

Fruits have many positive qualities. They are natural and healthy (and best from organic sources), and they are juicy, with a very high water content, like the human body itself. Fruits are also well stocked in nutrients, particularly such important vitamins as A and C, a little of the Bs, and E in the seeds. Many minerals, such as calcium, magnesium, copper, and manganese, a little iron, and other trace minerals, are also present in fruits, especially when they are contained in the water and soil that nourishes the plants or trees. Fruits are low in fat and high in fiber, both very healthful attributes for our commonly high-fat, low-fiber culture. Fruits are also relatively low calorie and low sodium, two more helpful characteristics. Most are sweet, colorful, and cooling and can be crunchy too. Fruits’ colors are some of the most beautiful in nature and cover the whole rainbow.

Fruits are high in natural sugars, thus making them a good substitute for those higher-calorie sugar treats when we feel we want something sweet. The sweet flavor is the most prevalent flavor in many diets. According to Chinese medical theory, too much sweet food may cause many problems. But eating whole fruits is the most natural way to obtain this sweet flavor.

Fruit juices are also an important beverage. Ideally consumed fresh, they are higher in vitamins and minerals than many other drinks. They are particularly a good replacement for sugary soda pops. Fruits and fruit juices without added sugars also tend to be purifying and help with our elimination. They are often part of a cleansing or detoxification program.
Fruits are also very easy to digest and utilize, and so they usually have low allergenic potential (allergy comes mainly from the protein components of food). Occasionally, someone is sensitive to such fruits as oranges or tomatoes, but this is less common than with other regularly used foods, such as milk, wheat, and other grains. Fruits may have a cooling and calming action for the body and nervous system and may be helpful in reducing body stress. Because of the natural nutrient content, fruit consumption may help strengthen our immune system as well.

It is most natural and economical to eat fruits fresh in season. It is ideal to wash them to clean off any sprays, germs, and environmental contaminants and to eat organic fruits whenever possible. Eating fruit in its ripe state is probably best for our body, as the “green” or unripe fruits may be more irritating.

Also, fresh is best from a nutritional standpoint. Fresh frozen is next, as the fruits lose very little of their nutrients. Drying fruits for storage is probably a little better than canning, though fresh “canned,” or, really, glass-jar-stored fruits in water that produce their own fruit juice, is much better than those with added sugars or syrups. Drying fruit pieces is more economical for storage purposes, and they will keep a long time if protected. Fruit is not usually cooked, though cooked fruits, such as stewed prunes, baked apples, and others are very tasty and can be eaten or used in some recipes; these may be easier to ingest for the elderly, who may not chew well, and are good for assisting normal intestinal activity. After cooking fruits, consuming the natural juices in which some of the fruits’ nutrients are contained will make them more wholesome.

Fruits fall into such categories as citrus fruits, melons, berries, tropical fruits, dried fruits, and many common fruits such as apples and pears. Most fruits grow on trees, but some are found on bushes (berries) or on ground vines (melons). Most fruits follow the flower of the plant and are available during the summer, late summer, and autumn, though there are exceptions.

Fruits have also been categorized as sweet, subacid, and acid. The sweet fruits are mainly the dried fruits, such as raisins and figs, and some tropical ones, such as bananas. Most juicy fruits are considered subacid. These include peaches, plums, apples, pears, grapes, cherries, mangoes, papayas, and so on. Citrus fruits, some berries, pineapples, and pomegranates are examples of acid-tasting fruits. They have a higher level of acid, often ascorbic acid (vitamin C), and this may make them helpful in cutting fats or helping fat digestion. When broken down in our body, though, fruits become more alkaline. (Cranberries, prunes, plums, and possibly strawberries and pomegranates are the main acid-forming fruits.) When fruits are utilized or burned, the minerals and ash that are left, even from lemons and pineapples, are alkaline, supporting our body’s acid-alkaline balance. In regard to food combining (see Chapter 10), fruits are digested very easily and therefore best eaten by themselves, rather than with other more concentrated foods, which take longer to pass through our stomach and digestive tract.

Common Fruits

Apples Peaches

These are the common tree fruits (except for grapes) of the United States and much of the world. Most of these are in the subacid variety of fruits. Apples and pears are similar in their growth and in the climates where they grow, as well as in their multiseeded cores. The single-seeded apricots, cherries, peaches, and plums each have their own unique flavor and avid followers. Grapes are our special vine fruit with many varieties used for eating, seasonal decor, and making wine.

All of these fruits are really tasty and juicy, and best eaten fresh; however, there is concern over the use of pesticides sprayed on them and the effects of these chemicals in our health, especially for our children. If possible, buying and consuming organically grown fruits is ideal.

Apples. Apple history is rich. From the Garden of Eden to Snow White and the Queen, the life of the apple had a questionable future. But Johnny Appleseed spread apples throughout the land and made them one of America’s popular fruits. Now they help to keep doctors away and shine up our teacher. Apples are also a very nutritious fruit. They are high in fiber, and apple pectin has a detoxifying quality and is used in many cleansing formulas. Eating apples also helps clean the teeth. Recent concerns over chemicals used in growing and harvesting apples has tainted the image of this “health” fruit, but organic apples or unsprayed apples are still one of the favorite fruits in our society.

One apple has about 100 calories, mainly from carbohydrate; nearly 2 grams of fiber; about 10 mg. vitamin C, 150 IUs of vitamin A, and some modest amounts of B vitamins—B1, B2, B3, B6, and biotin. Apples also contain various minerals—lots of potassium; over 15 mg. each of calcium, magnesium, and phosphorus; about a H mg. of iron; and traces of manganese, copper, selenium, and zinc. Apples even have some vitamin E, mostly in the seeds. Apples are like mini-multivitamins—they have a little of everything.

Apricots. Apricots have received recent notoriety about their laetrile-laden kernels. But the apricot fruit itself is very nutritious and tasty. It is high in vitamin A, mainly as beta-carotene, the vitamin A precursor. Each little apricot has nearly 1,000 IUs of vitamin A. The vitamin C content is fairly good, though lower than in some other fruits, as are the B vitamins. Potassium and other minerals, such as calcium and iron, are also contained in apricots. The trace minerals zinc, copper, and manganese are also present. Dried apricots may have even higher concentrations of vitamin A and minerals. Apricots are considered one of the longevity fruits contained in high amounts in the long-living Hunzas’ diet.

Cherries. Cherries can be sweet or sour, red or black. They are good colon cleansers, as they enhance bowel motility. They are fairly high in vitamin C content, about 15 mg. per cup of cherries. Vitamin A content is good, the Bs are modest, and minerals are high. Potassium content is very high, calcium content is good, as is phosphorus content, and there are modest levels of magnesium and manganese, and fair amounts of copper and iron, thus making this “bloody” fruit good for building our blood.

Grapes. There are many varieties of this fruit of the vine. Wines made from grapes are used in most cultures as part of both religious rites and secular celebrations. And many people celebrate daily.

Green Thompson seedless grapes are those most commonly consumed in our country, though red seedless, larger seeded Reiber (or Ribier) grapes, and other kinds are a real treat as well. Grapes have lots of nutrients and also help cleanse the bowels. Grape fasting—consuming only grapes and grape juice for Day s and weeks at a time—is a fairly popular therapeutic tool in the natural healing fields. Many anecdotal positive experiences have been described by those grape fasters, but, as with any kind of fasting, there is not very much research to demonstrate its value. Nor do grapes maintain a balanced diet.

Grapes are fairly high in fruit sugar, fructose, and are mainly carbohydrate foods. They contain no fat and minimum protein but a good amount of fiber. Grapes have about 100 calories per cup. They contain decent amounts of vitamin A; good vitamin C levels; some B vitamins; lots of potassium; some calcium, magnesium, and phosphorus; traces of iron and copper; and a fairly high level, for fruit, of the important mineral manganese.

Because bugs are very attracted to the sweet grapes, these fruits are often heavily sprayed. In fact, there have been recent grape boycotts by the Farm Workers Union to protest the use of dangerous pesticides that jeopardize the workers’ health—and the consumers’ as well.

Peaches. Peaches have very good press—they are sweet, fuzzy, and friendly, and when all is going well, it’s “peachy.” In season, peaches are usually so juicy that they should be eaten outdoors or with bibs.

Peaches have good levels of vitamins A and C, potassium, and phosphorus; fair amounts of calcium and magnesium; and traces of the important minerals zinc, selenium, manganese, iodine, sulfur, copper, and iron. The B vitamin content is modest, as in most fruits.

Pears. Pears are similar to apples in that they have modest to moderate amounts of many nutrients. There are many varieties, ranging from crunchy to very juicy. They are lower in vitamin A than other fruits but do contain good fiber. They have decent levels of vitamin C and folic acid and have high amounts of potassium and surprisingly good levels of manganese and selenium. Like apples, pears also have good cleansing and detoxification potential, probably related to their high fiber content.

Plums. Plums also come in many varieties and are one of our few purple foods. They range in flavor from sour to very sweet and are mildly acid-forming when broken down in our body. Plums are low in calories and have good levels of vitamin A and potassium. They contain a bit of calcium and magnesium, some iron and copper, vitamin C and phosphorous, and traces of B vitamins.

Citrus Fruits

Grapefruits Limes

Citrus fruits are warm-climate fruits containing almost all juice. They seem to be avail-able nearly year round in our hotter states, such as Florida, Texas, and California, but most citrus fruits are harvested mainly in late spring to early summer, with certain types, such as navel oranges, giving a winter crop.

Citrus fruits are known for their vitamin C content. An average orange, for example, contains about 65 mg. (about the RDA) of this important vitamin. Citruses are also high in potassium and other minerals. Like most other fruits, they are low in salt, or sodium.

Citrus fruits are used commonly for cleansing, as during colds and flus, and for cooling us down in the summertime. Citrus juice seems to help cut grease on the hands or dishes, and it likely has the same effect on the body, helping fat digestion and utilization. Citrus and vitamin C are thought to help reduce cholesterol. Gallbladder and liver function is thought to be supported by citrus fruits, especially lemons, and lemon water may help stimulate digestive juice secretions. More research is needed to evaluate the actions and effects of citrus juices in our body.

Grapefruits. Grapefruits are used in many diets to reduce the appetite and help digestion and utilization of foods. They are low in calories, and consuming them probably burns as many calories as they contain. Among the citrus fruits, grapefruits are an especially good weight-loss food.

One grapefruit contains about 75 mg. of vitamin C. Amounts of vitamin A and the Bs are fairly low, though there is some biotin. Potassium content is very good, and there is some calcium, magnesium, and phosphorus as well. Grapefruit juice straight or mixed with orange juice is a high-vitamin C meal.

Lemons. Lemons have been a very useful food in my life. Lemonade fasting has done wonders for me and thousands of others who have attempted the “master cleanse” described in my book Staying Healthy with the Seasons (Celestial Arts, 1981). Lemon water, as a half lemon in a glass of water, drunk 20–30 minutes before meals, seems to help stimulate gastric juices and help digestion. In general, liquids drunk a while before meals can reduce our appetite and thus help prevent overeating, and lemon water is a very good choice.

I consider lemons a cleanser, purifier, rejuvenator, and detoxifier, especially for the liver, as they help in fat metabolism. These functions come mainly from their astringent qualities, supported by high vitamin C and potassium levels. Like other citruses, lemons contain calcium, magnesium, and phosphorus, but most of these minerals are present more in the white part of the rind and in the pulp. Lemon juice is used in salads and, more for its biochemical behavior, in cutting fats and oils (even in dishwashing liquid). It is more often used diluted in water as lemon water or lemonade (with sweeteners) than as a separate beverage, because its sour flavor limits its straight use. Lemon peel tea can be drunk after a meal as a digestive acid.

Limes. Limes are like minilemons in terms of nutritional content. Limes helped save the British sailors (“limeys”) from scurvy by means of their vitamin C content. This little citrus is not as prevalent in our culture as many others; however, it is used commonly in alcoholic or refreshment drinks, as it is not quite as sour as lemon.

Oranges. Oranges are one of the most commonly used fruits in the United States. As orange juice (OJ), they are popular as a breakfast drink. One orange can give us our minimum vitamin C requirement of 65 mg., and one glass of OJ provides about 125 mg. Oranges’ high potassium and good calcium levels are also helpful. Actually, oranges contain almost all the vitamins and minerals, at least in modest amounts. Since people can daily consume more oranges, as juice or fruit, than the other citruses, we are able to obtain higher vitamin C levels with OJ, often the drink for the common cold. Oranges also have more vitamin A, as beta-carotene, than other citruses, which may help fight infections and protect us from cancer by supporting our immune system.


Cantaloupes Honeydews

Melons are high-water-content fruits that grow on the ground in the heat of summer. Most are harvested in late summer; casaba and honeydew melons are more of an autumn/winter crop. When we are dry and thirsty in the summer, melons are a good answer. They are also high in calcium, potassium, vitamin C, and vitamin A as beta-carotene, especially cantaloupe and watermelon. Because of the high water and fruit sugar content of most melons, they are more easily digested than most any other food. For this reason, it is suggested that they be eaten by themselves to avoid abdominal gas and bloating, as fermentation may occur more easily when they are eaten with other, harder to digest foods. There are many varieties and colors of melons. I will discuss a few here—one red, one green, and a couple of orange ones.

Cantaloupes. Cantaloupes are very high in beta-carotene, a precursor of vitamin A. One-quarter of a cantaloupe may give up to 3000 IUs of A as well as about 30 mg. vitamin C; some Bs; potassium (about 250 mg.); a little calcium, magnesium, and phosphorus; and traces of iron, copper, manganese, and zinc.

Casabas. The casaba is a muskmelon that is higher in the minerals than in vitamins A and C. Potassium, calcium, and phosphorus are all found in good levels. The casaba-type melons are a little higher in sodium than other fruits.

Honeydews. Sweet, juicy, green melons, honeydews have a fairly good vitamin C content. The amounts of vitamin A and the Bs are lower, but potassium is high, as are calcium and phosphorus.

Watermelons. Eating watermelon can be quite an art. Red and juicy, watermelons are really America’s national melon. They are almost all water and nutrients—high in beta-carotene, vitamin C, potassium, and magnesium. Watermelon is a great treat in the hot summer. Most people experience this fruit as a diuretic, stimulating urine flow. The ground seeds have been used as an herbal diuretic and kidney cleanser.


Blackberries Cranberries
Blueberries Raspberries
Boysenberries Strawberries

There are many varieties of edible berries found all over the world. Discussed here are some more common berries available to us in both wild and cultivated forms. Berries usually can be found or harvested in later summer or early autumn, depending on the climate. Depending on ripeness, they may vary in flavor from very sour to very sweet.

Most berries have some vitamin C, about 20–30 mg. per cup. Vitamin A content varies, but at least 150–300 IUs can be found in a cup of berries. B vitamins are generally low, but minerals are fairly plentiful, with potassium content the best. Amounts of calcium, magnesium, silicon, and iron are actually pretty good. Most of the berries have a good fiber content as well.

Berries are a treat for young and old. Berry pie made with fresh-picked berries can be a flavorful and nutritious dessert, ideally consumed at least an hour or two after dinner. Berries with cream or a la mode can be a little heavy and harder to digest but definitely a taste treat. Berries with cereals are also fairly popular, but overall, berries are best by themselves.

Blackberries. Blackberries are almost exclusively wild and local, even to city folk. Come midsummer, we can stain our hands and get a few stickers pickin’ and eatin’ them blackberries. They need to be black and ripe to be sweet; otherwise they can make us pucker. They have pretty good amounts of calcium, magnesium, iron, and other minerals. Both vitamins A and C are found in blackberries.

Blueberries. Blueberries are sweeter and meatier and a little lower in vitamins A and C and minerals than the other berries, though they still have lots of nutrients.

Boysenberries. A really special treat, boysenberries may come earlier than the other dark bushberries. They are similar to blackberries in their nutrient content.

Cranberries. Cranberries are tart berries used mainly in their cooked and “sauced” form for celebration. Cranberry juice is commonly used to help acidify the urine to reduce symptoms and clear mild urinary bladder infections. They are lower in vitamins A and C and minerals than the other berries but are still nutritious.
Raspberries. Both red and black raspberries are another summertime treat. They are fairly high in vitamin C and especially abundant in the minerals calcium, magnesium, and iron.

Strawberries. Our most popular American berry, strawberries grow in little ground bushes without prickers. Maybe their friendliness is what gives them top billing. But they are very tasty as well, and they are also highest in vitamin C, though a bit lower in vitamin A, and better in iron and potassium than the other berries. Strawberries are unique in that their seeds are on the outside. That trait, along with their red color, makes them the most yang, or activating, fruit from an Oriental perspective. I surely liked strawberries in my milk and cereal when I was growing up, especially drinking that pink, sweet milk at the end, with the extra white sugar, of course. Ooh!

Tropical Fruits

Bananas Papayas
Guavas Pineapples

Tropical fruits are those that grow in a hot or tropical climate, usually one with lots of rain and sun—like Hawaii, Tahiti, the Caribbean, South America, or even Southern California or Florida. The tropical fruits vary in type of plants, fruits, and nutrients, but all are fairly exotic tasting. Each one is known for its unique taste and a particular nutrient in which it is high. Bananas are great in potassium and are likely the most popular fruit in our country, even though they are not grown here. Papayas are high in beta-carotene and the papain enzyme; guavas in vitamin C; pineapples in manganese and the digestive enzyme bromelain; while avocados, a tropical and temperate fruit (will be discussed shortly under Unusual Fruits), have some protein and fat (they are really more like nuts in nutrient makeup). Some other less common varieties of tropical fruits are cherimoya, lychee, and zapote.

Bananas. Bananas have the number one vote as Americans’ favorite fruit. They are commonly recommended as a potassium source in those patients on potassium-losing diuretic therapy. Bananas are almost completely carbohydrate. They contain many vitamins and minerals, including iron, selenium, and magnesium.
Bananas are used in flavoring for desserts, as in banana splits or banana bread, in breakfast cereals, or even in sandwiches. Most commonly, though, they are eaten after peeling the skin as a snack or dessert carried in lunch pails to work or school. As far as treats go, bananas are one of the healthiest. However, there is concern, since bananas are not indigenous in the States, over the pesticides that are used to fumigate these fruits when they come from Mexico or Hawaii. Also, some people do not digest bananas well, some are allergic, and others may become constipated from their use.

Guavas. A common tree fruit in tropical areas such as Hawaii, guavas taste similar to soft pears and have big seeds. Guavas are very high in vitamin C, with one medium-sized fruit having close to 200 mg. They are also good in fiber, are high in vitamin A and potassium, and have modest amounts of phosphorus, calcium, and magnesium. Though fairly popular in the tropics, they are not commonly imported.

Mangoes. Mangoes are a very tasty and juicy fruit that I first learned to eat in Mexico, peeled and eaten like a popsicle, using a fork stuck in the pit as a holder. Mangoes are fairly high in vitamin C and have some vitamin E but are extremely rich in vitamin A, with a high concentration of beta-carotene. One mango may have nearly 10,000 IUs of vitamin A. Mangoes are also fairly rich in many minerals, including zinc, magnesium, and potassium.

Papayas. Papayas are best known for their digestive support, as they contain the enzyme papain. Their taste is delicious, rather like that of a melon. Papayas also may have a disinfectant property when used to clean wounds and skin or mouth sores. Papayas are rich in beta-carotene (and thus vitamin A activity) and vitamin C as well as potassium and other minerals. This is probably one fruit that can be used as an appetizer or dessert because of the digestive enzyme, papain, contained in it.

Pineapples. An interesting bush fruit most commonly grown in Hawaii, pineapples are very juicy and mildly acidic, more like a citrus fruit. They contain a digestive enzyme, bromelain, that allows for their easy digestion. Because of this, pineapples (a small amount) are one of the few fruits, papayas are another, that can be eaten following a meal. Bromelain may also have an antiinflammatory action in the body. Pineapples contain some vitamins A and C as well as potassium, calcium, and the trace minerals manganese and selenium. Manganese levels are in fact quite good; one cup of pineapple will supply our minimum daily needs, about 2.5 mg.

There is a concern that pineapples more easily accumulate chemicals from the fertilizers and pesticides commonly used in their cultivation, due to their very porous skins, whereas fruits such as oranges are more protected. For this reason, it is unwise to consume a great deal of pineapple or its juice unless organic fruits can be found. However, it is more difficult to find organic tropical fruits from Hawaii or Mexico, for example, than it is the more locally cultivated ones, such as apples or oranges, possibly because of the higher amounts of insects and germs that also thrive in those climates.

Unusual and Special Fruits

Avocados Persimmons
Kiwis Pomegranates

These fruits—foods that grow on trees and that contain inner seeds, do not clearly fit into the other categories I have discussed. None of these are eaten commonly, other than olives possibly by some people. Olives, however, are unusual because they cannot be eaten fresh and also contain a high amount of oil, much like avocados. They are really more like a nut than a fruit. Kiwis have recently become more popular due to their unique taste, visual appeal, and modest caloric count. They are probably closest to grapes or the tropical guava; however, kiwis grow in more temperate climates including Northern California and New Zealand. Persimmons and pomegranates are also unusual in taste and appearance as well as in the adventure of eating them. These festive and seasonal bright orange or red fruits can be seen dangling from near-naked trees in autumn and early winter in the temperate climates in which they grow.

Avocados. Avocados are unique among the fruits in that they are a very concentrated food, more like a nut than a fruit. They are high in calories—one average avocado has about 300 calories and about 30 grams of fat, as well as 12 grams of carbohydrate and 4–5 grams of protein. They are fairly high in most of the B vitamins except B12, being particularly good in folic acid, niacin, and pantothenic acid. They also have some vitamin C, good amounts of vitamin A, and contain a bit of vitamin E. Avocados are very rich in potassium and are also particularly good in many other minerals, including magnesium, iron, and manganese.

For vegetarians who do not eat a lot of fatty foods, avocados may be a good source of needed oils, but for those who consume more fat and calories, these fruits may add excess fat and weight. Avocados are commonly used in salads, dips such as guacamole, in sandwiches, or stuffed with seafood.

Kiwis. Little fruits with a tiny name, kiwis reveal a beautiful pattern when the green juicy fruit with furry skin is sliced. Kiwis are another fruit high in vitamin C and potassium and may contain an enzyme that helps reduce cholesterol and improve circulation.

Olives. Horticulturally, olives are considered a fruit, but in their nutritional makeup they are more like nuts, with a high oil content. In the fruit family, they are most like avocados. Olives grow in large quantities on small trees. They are most widely cultivated in the Mediterranean countries of Italy and Spain, though they are now being grown more in the United States, mainly in California.

The best use of olives is in the form of the clear, sweet oil pressed from their pulp. After the olives are harvested and cleaned, the first amounts of the oil are pressed out as “virgin” olive oil. This can be bright yellow to green-yellow in color and varies subtly in flavor. Fresh olive oil is used classically in salads and can be drunk in small amounts as a nutritive lubricant to the intestinal tract. Olive oil is one of our best oils for cooking, as it is mainly a monounsaturated fat, which is more stable to heat degradation than the common polyunsaturated oils. Olive oil also helps lower LDL cholesterol, which is implicated in heart disease.

Olives cannot be consumed just off the tree or even after ripening. They must be “pickled” or cooked in vinegar in order to be eaten. Stuffed (with pimento) green olives are familiar to the bartender for drinks. Black olives are more often used in cooking. Most table or dinner olives are much larger than the oil olives.

Olives are rich in oil (and calories) and the essential fatty acids, and generally have a good variety of vitamins and minerals, along with some protein. They contain vitamin E, vitamin A, and many of the B vitamins. They further contain many minerals, such as zinc, copper, iron, calcium, magnesium, and phosphorus. However, people avoiding salt or vinegar, or those on a low-fat, low-calorie diet, would best minimize their olive intake.

Persimmons. A seasonal (late autumn/winter) fruit, persimmons are common in the Orient, where they are associated with celebration. They also grow in the United States in temperate climates and are harvested here in the autumn/winter as well. A fully fruited persimmon tree that has lost its leaves and is left with many bright orange fruits is a beautiful sight. Persimmons must be eaten when very ripe. It is the cold weather or frost that aids the ripening process. If you buy them hard, you can freeze them overnight and they will ripen as they thaw. Persimmons have a unique, slightly acidic taste and are very messy to eat. They have some beta-carotene, as do most orange fruits and vegetables, and some vitamin C, as well as a little potassium, iron, and calcium. The fuju persimmon from Japan is ripe when still hard and has a texture more like an apple.

Pomegranates. Another autumn celebration fruit in our culture, pomegranates are eaten around Halloween on through the winter holiDay s. Parents may dread pomegranate season because they are not very easy to eat and the bright-red juice contained in their hundreds of little seed fruits stains clothes and skin. Pomegranates have some vitamin C and potassium but overall are not very nutrient rich.

Dried Fruits

Apples Figs
Apricots Prunes
Currants Raisins

Just about any fruit can be dried, but some are more typically eaten in their dried form. Drying fruits allows them greater longevity and shelf life. However, some of the vitamins, such as C, and minerals may be reduced with time. Also, many dried fruits may be preserved with sulfur dioxide, to which some people, particularly those with asthma or allergies, may be sensitive. Generally, sulfur dioxide in small amounts is not too big a problem and may help maintain higher levels of vitamin C.

Since dried fruit has lost its water content, eating too much of it can make the intestinal matter drier, which may cause or worsen constipation. Rehydrating some of these dried fruits in filtered or spring water will make them juicy and more flavorful and prevent the problem of constipation.

Apples. Dried apples have only recently become popular commercially. Many of the trace minerals are lost in the drying process, but potassium and the apple pectin, which helps intestinal detoxification, are more concentrated in dried apples.

Apricots. Apricots are very tasty in their dried form. They usually have sulfur dioxide added to preserve their color, but organic, untreated dried apricots are also available. Dried apricots are very rich in vitamin A from beta-carotene and also contain a high concentration of potassium.

Currants. Black currants are tasty raisin-like fruits that contain very good amounts of vitamin C and decent levels of vitamin A, niacin, pantothenic acid, and biotin. They also contain good amounts of iron and potassium, as well as some calcium, phosphorus, magnesium, and manganese. Dried currants can be eaten alone or used on cereal or in baking. Recently, the seeds of the black currant have been used for their concentrated oil, gamma-linolenic acid (GLA), also found in evening primrose.

Dates. A very sweet, high-carbohydrate fruit harvested from the date palm trees, dates are found naturally in the “dried” state, though fresh dates may have a little more moisture. Date sugar extracted from dates is used as a sweetener. Dates are fairly rich in niacin, pantothenic acid, potassium, calcium, and magnesium. They are surprisingly concentrated in iron; about ten medium dates contain 3 mg. iron.

Figs. Figs can be eaten in the fresh or dried form, though packaged, dried figs are most common. Fresh figs, especially fresh picked, can be an exotic taste treat and great for cleansing the intestines. Dried figs in general are fairly rich in potassium, calcium, phosphorus, magnesium, iron, copper, and manganese. They are good energy foods, support blood formation, and, when soaked and rehydrated, figs are helpful to intestinal function.

Prunes. Prunes are best known for their laxative effect. A few prunes a Day , especially soaked, rehydrated prunes, can keep us regular, and the elderly population favors them for this purpose. Prunes are essentially dried plums and are very rich in iron, with the highest amount of all the fruits. One cup of prunes may have 4–6 mg. of iron, and one cup of prune juice, the most common way prunes are used medicinally, contains nearly 10 mg. of iron. Prunes are also high in vitamin A, niacin, potassium, and phosphorus and have some calcium, magnesium, and copper as well.

Raisins. Dried seedless grapes, raisins are a common snack food or used in cereals, cookies, and puddings. They are fairly high in iron, with one cup of raisins containing nearly 6 mg. Raisins are also rich in potassium, calcium, magnesium, and phosphorus, and have traces of copper, zinc, and manganese. They have fair amounts of the B vitamins and are often helpful in providing quick energy.

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Written by Elson M. Haas MD

Explore Wellness in 2021