Fiann Ó Nualláin’s resolution for the new year is to focus on his five-a-day.
Over the years I have got into the habit of eating my fruit fresh from the garden, just because I grow it.
And I became so adamant a few years back about not supporting packaging and freight miles on supermarket fruits and veg that it turned me off picking up the odd kiwi or papaya and so I become even more reliant on what I grow.
Some of my harvests I freeze, some I dry for herbal tea but I almost exclusively consume fresh fruit in summer and autumn and not in winter and spring.
I am a huge fan of seasonal eating and I know a strawberry in June does me more good than a Christmas one but I’d like not tobe so confined to what my garden yields.
Last year it offered a glut of pears and hardly any cherries. Plus, this self-sufficiency is not getting pineapple on my homemade pizza or mango in my fruit salad.
So my New Year’s health resolution this year is to go buy and eat more fruit.
We hear all the time that an apple a day keeps the doctor away but what other fruits should we all be including in our five a day?
Sweet cherry (Prunus avium) and sour cherry (Prunus cerasus) are packed with antioxidants and anti-inflammatory phytochemicals including an array of phenolics with potent protective effects on neuronal cells.
Cherry fruit is a source of melatonin — a hormone normally produced by our pineal gland to regulate sleep-and-wake cycles — aka the sleep hormone.
This explains cherry’s popularity as a remedy to resolve sleep-deprived irritability and insomnia.
Grapefruit (Citrus × paradise) is full of bioflavonoids that boost general wellbeing and the efficiency of our immune systemresponse to infection and illness.
It has tradition as a bitter agent to stimulatedigestion and our natural detoxification processes.
It’s a supplier of vitamin C and other antioxidants.
Lemon (Citrus limonum) has a long-standing repuation as an immune system booster and as a kickstart to our body’s natural detoxifying processes.
The fruit, peel and juice are rich in vitamin C andlimonin glucosides — two potent agents which together are said to exert chemoprotective and potent anti-carcinogen actions.
The fruit acids contained in lemon have acholesterol-lowering effect.
Lime (Citrus aurantifolia) is a source of antioxidant and immune enhancing vitamin C.
It also contains limonoids which are said to help inhibit cancers of the mouth, lung, breast, skin, stomach and colon.
It is a source of vitamin P which helps cleanse capillaries and blood vessels and minimise the risks of developing plague build-up.
Lychee (Litchi chinensis) contain many bioflavonoids including rutin which is said to strengthen blood vessels.
The fruit also contains oligonol which is said toincrease endothelial nitric oxide levels and exert a vasodilatory activity, beneficial too boosting peripheral circulation.
Oligonol may also be useful to boost insulin sensitivity and decrease lipid and visceral fat accumulations.
Mango (Mangifera indica) has a history of use to treat hypertension and its content of vitamin C and polyphenols would support that use but mango also supplies gallic acid, caffeic acid and quercetin which can assist in diminishing the symptoms of seasonalallergies and histamine intolerance.
Mango is also a source prebiotic dietary fibre that not only helps to regulate blood glucose levels and serum cholesterol but is also said to improve intestinal function and its role in our immune system responses.
Orange (Citrus × sinensis) delivers a punch of polysaccharides and pectin that act as prebiotics to encourage the growth of beneficial bacteria in the intestines.
This, coupled with its vitamin C content, gives it renown as a cold and flu and travel illness remedy.
Oranges are full of flavanones and inparticular hesperidin which has been shown to lower high blood pressure and regulate cholesterol.
Flavonoids offer antioxidant, anti-inflammatory and health-bolstering properties.
Papaya (Carica papaya) is a rich source of antioxidants and flavonoids that help mop up free radicals and repair damaged cells.
It is also rich in amino acids and enzymes that improve digestive function.
One in particular, papain, a proteolytic enzyme, has a potent anti-inflammatory action and can quell not only stomach cramping but some of the other symptoms of more chronic gastric conditions including irritable bowel syndrome.
Papain may interact with blood thinning medications.
Pineapple (Ananas comosus) contains bromelain — a proteolytic enzyme that helps break down complex proteins andimprove digestion but bromelain also breaks down agents involved in triggering and maintaining inflammation.
Bromelain often appears in supplements and formulas to treat arthritis and certainly its manganese content is said to be helpful preventing osteoporosis in post-menopausal women.
Pineapple is also a source of tryptophan — the amino acid required to support healthy levels of serotonin — the happy hormone.
Pomegranate (Punica granatum) fruit and juice both have an abundance of punicalagins potent antioxidants that not only cleanse the system of free radicals but are said to actively prevent the oxidisation of LDL cholesterol and help prevent blood vessel damage.
The punicic acid content is implicated in an improvement of the triglyceride/HDL cholesterol ratio beneficial to slow the formation of arterial plaque.
Pomegranate’s reputation as an aphrodisiac is perhaps down to its ability to increase nitric oxide metabolism.