When is the best time to eat fruit — before or after a meal? Why?
For effective digestion, fruits should be eaten alone, either an hour before a meal or two to four hours after it. However, if you are eating very small quantities like a slice of an apple, it can be eaten at the end of a meal. The reason for this is that fruits, due to their simple sugars, digest first while other foods wait for their turn and ferment. Fruits don’t digest well when combined with protein and starch. When many ingredients like protein, starch, vegetables, fats and fruits are eaten together in the same meal, the body is unable to produce all the necessary enzymes to enable effective digestion. Although digestion still takes place, it is associated with problems like decreased nutrient assimilation, gas, abdominal pain and swelling.
How do fruits help in boosting metabolism?
They help in detoxification or inner cleansing of the body, which in turn helps improve metabolism. Also, high fibre fruits like pomegranate and strawberries have a low Glycemic Index. This results in the reduction of insulin secretion into the blood and a leads to a balanced energy flow during the day, indirectly contributing to less snacking on sweet and processed foods. Most fruits are high in fibre, low in fat and packed with vitamins and minerals, so you can have two to three servings of any fruit a day.
Are nuts good for the heart? Which ones are healthy and how do they help?
Nuts are rich in nutrients and energy, and also help maintain a healthy heart. Studies have found that nuts reduce the low-density lipoprotein or bad cholesterol level in the blood. The nuts with the lowest saturated fat content (four per cent) are almonds and peanuts. The total fat content of both nuts is over 50 per cent, but most of it is monounsaturated fat — the type of fat that your body needs to protect the levels of high-density lipoprotein — the good cholesterol. Almonds also have the highest content of fibre, vitamin E, calcium and riboflavin, and are rich in iron and beta-sitosterol, which helps in reducing cholesterol.
I’ve been told that weight loss through crash diets isn’t very healthy. Is it true?
Crash diets are an unscientific way of losing weight and may prove to be dangerous for your body. Health risks associated with crash diets range from emotional and mental concerns (extreme food cravings, irrational mood swings, depression and anorexia) to serious nutritional deficiencies (multi-mineral and vitamin deficiency) and vital organ malfunction. Instead, having small and fibre-dense foods at regular intervals will prevent hunger pangs, provide consistent energy, maintain proper metabolism efficiency and lead to weight loss.
Dr Anjali Mukerjee is a nutritionist and the founder of Health Total, a nutrition counselling centre.