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12 June, 2015 00:00 00 AM / LAST MODIFIED: 12 June, 2015 01:19:34 AM

Fruits of summer

by Syed Mehdi Momin
Fruits of summer

The summer fruits of Bangladesh are a delight - mango, litchis, jackfruit, guava, musk melon, papaya, pineapple, different varieties of berries , etc. Though mango is the indeed the king of fruits, and summer is the peak season for all its varieties, people also have great fondness for jackfruits. Not for nothing is the big fruit our national one. Litchis are also the favourite fruit for many Bangladeshis. The very appearance of a ripe luscious litchi can make your mouth water. It only drawback is that it is available in the market for too short a time.

The market shelves are now filled with the summer fruits, most of which are incredible tasty. Their succulent, juicy, soothing, sweet aftertaste leaves you craving for more. When the sun beams down on you as hard as it does, you just can’t resist a shiny, luscious, round yellow mango, staring up at you like you were destined to grab it and devour it right there, off the shelf. Tropical fruits such as mangoes, lichis, melons and papayas may be the obvious choice on a hot, sultry day, and rightfully so; after all, fresh versions of these fruits are only available once a year.

Fruit juice is great
In the long and hot days of the summer our mouth gets parched all the time. Generally people go for sweetened carbonated soft drink, the cooler the vbetter it is for them. However doctors are almost unanimous in their view that it is better to avoid those fizzy, carbonated drinks that you see all around you beckoning from every roadside shop or grocery store. They’re just filled with empty calories, artificial sweeteners, colours and flavours, and do you no good at all.

An age-old tradition here is to serve any guest who arrives at the door at least a glass of water. In fact it is considered to be extreme rudeness not to do so. The reason behind this social etiquette is so simple and basic - in a hot country like Bangladesh people sweat a lot and it’s important to keep one’s body cool and replenish the fluids one is losing. The best way are glasses of juice of a wide variety of summer fruit.

Nature has her own plan to keep us cool and refreshed in summer. Most of the summer fruits in India are cool, juicy and almost 75 per cent water? Melons of different types make their first appearance in summer - followed by plump and juicy watermelons. Then come the mangoes and then the litchis, which verge on a heavenly experience when had chilled. And don’t forget pure and invigorating coconut water had straight out of the green shell with a straw, or chilled in the fridge for better effect. All of these fruits can be turned into tasty and nutritious juices.

Though yet to become popular in Bangladesh, in northern India there is a refreshing and healthy summer drink made of unripe mangoes. The drink is known as Aam panna can be bottled fresh and stored in the fridge and is packed with vitamin C..

Mango is the King
“The choicest fruit of Hindustan”, says Amir Khusro in his Persian verse, “for garden pride the mango is sought. Ere ripe, other fruits to cut we ban, but mango serves, ripe or not.”

Poetic, yet precise. People have always enjoyed ripe and raw mangoes alike. And perhaps no other fruit, when unripe “serves” us so much as the mangoes does. In this behalf, pickles and chutneys at once came to mind. Both are of several kinds, depending upon the mango varieties, spices and the housewife’s ingenuity.

Mango is indeed the favourite fruit of Bangladesh and known as the “King of fruits”.

The “king of fruits” has been around for at least 6,000 years. Native South Asia, this sweet fruit was described in the ancient Sanskrit literature, for example in Valmiki’s Ramayana. The mango was also the fruit of the kings in ancient India, where princes used to pride themselves on the possession of large mango gardens. Persian traders took the fruit into the Middle East while the Portuguese brought it to Europe and the New World. Mango cultivation arrived in Florida in the 1830s and in California in the 1880s, and now it is also grown in Hawaii, Mexico and South America. Ripe mangoes are succulent and sweet, with a yellow-orange or red skin. They are ready to eat when they are soft to touch and yield to gentle pressure.

They should also omit a full fruity aroma from the stem end. Most supermarket mangoes are green but you can ripen them at room temperature. Once they ripen, store them in the refrigerator for up to three days. The best eating mango is fibre free, but even a stringy mango can be sweet and juicy.

Mangoes are rich in antioxidants such as beta-carotene, and Vitamin C, Antioxidants have been shown to play an important role in the prevention of cancer and heart disease. They also contain bioflavonoids, the compounds that help plants capture energy from the sun, and when eaten they aid our immune system. Mangoes also supply potassium and fibre and are low in calories. The insoluble fibre, abundant in mangoes, aids the elimination of waste from the colon and prevents constipation.

Mangoes support all the seven dhatus (body tissues) and provide a very satisfying snack or dessert. An ayurvedic mango lassi provides a great refreshing drink for any summer meal. A milk-mango shake cools the physiology and helps weight gain. Currently the mango season is in full swing in Bangladesh. Selecting the ripeness of mangos can be determined by either smelling or squeezing. A ripe mango will have a full, fruity aroma emitting from the stem end. Mangos can be considered ready to eat when slightly soft to the touch and yielding to gentle pressure, like a ripe peach. The best-flavored fruit have a yellow tinge when ripe; however, color may be red, yellow, green, orange or any combination. Since mangoes are a tropical fruit, try to store them at room temperature until you’re ready to juice them

Luscious Litchis
Litchi a fruit of Litchi chinensis (family Sapindaceae), consisting of a thin, brittle shell enclosing a sweet, jelly like pulp and a single seed. The original home of litchi is in China. It was introduced to Burma and India by the end of the 17th century. Litchi can be grown in every district of Bangladesh, however, presently it is being grown mainly in the northern district of Bangladesh. Litchi stands second only to mango among the tree fruits grown in the country.

Litchi plants are medium to large, much branched, round-topped and evergreen, reaching up to 12-15 metres. Leaves pinnately compound, leaflets 4-7, glossy-dark above and light green beneath. The tender, young leaves are brown and borne in periodic flashes.

The fruit grows in bunches and varies in shape and size. The edible portion of litchi is called aril, lies under the papillate, pinkish-red pericarp and completely surrounds the dark-brown, oily skinned seed. Litchi plant requires warm, humid climate for vegetative growth.

Dry hot air is injurious for the fruits. Deep, loamy-alluvial soil is most suitable for litchi. Although it cannot tolerate water-logging, it favours moist soils. Most of the litchi varieties presently grown in different countries have been introduced from China. There are some seedling selections with promising fruit qualities in many countries. There is no such named variety of litchi in Bangladesh. Nevertheless there are many local selections with commercial fruit qualities under the main two types: deshi and bombai. The edible portion (50-75% of fruit wt) of litchi contains mainly carbohydrate (sugars), protein, fat, vitamins (B & C), calcium, and iron. The Litchi is usually eaten fresh. But it makes an excellent drink and canned fruit. Dried litchi, known as “litchi nut” is very popular among the Chinese.

Bael is a small, deciduous, smooth tree .  Recently introduced to the Philippines .Native of Australia. Also reported in India and Srilanka . Bael is baseball sized fruit with a very hard skin and sticky pulp that is highly aromatic. Bael fruits are eaten many parts of the world but medicinal value are more than its taste. Flesh is eaten raw or processed into drinks  or flavoring Which is very helpful for our body.Fruit pulp are sometimes used as a detergent and adhesive.  Ripe pulp are used as digestive  aid and a laxative. Unripe pulp are used  to treat  diarrhea and dysentery.
Watermelon is grown in over 96 countries worldwide.  A variety of melon thought to be originally from Africa. Watermelon can be round, oblong or spherical. Its usually red flesh is sometimes white, yellow or pink. It contains smooth seeds that may be black, brown, white, green, yellow or red. Some varieties are seedless.The sweet taste of watermelon is often paired with the salty taste of feta cheese. Watermelon is 92% water . Watermelon is an ideal health food because it doesn’t contain any fat or cholesterol, and is an excellent source of vitamins A; B6 & C. Watermelon is eaten plain, in slices or quarters, cut into chunks or balls. It is used in fruit salads or cooked into jam after removing the seeds. Pureed watermelon is made into sorbet or a delicious juice that is the basis of a widely enjoyed Russian wine. Unripe watermelon is used in the same way as summer squash. Watermelon seeds are edible. In some areas of Asia and China, they are eaten plain, roasted or salted, sometimes milled for use in making bread. Papaya is believed to have originated from Mexico and it’s neighboring Central American countries. Papayas are generally classified into Hawaiian or Mexican. The papaya fruit is green when young and turns yellow when ripe and the flesh varies in color from bright orange, yellow to pinkish. A properly ripened papaya fruit taste sweet and juicy. It contains papain that helps digestion and is good at tenderizing meat. The hollowed part of the fruit contains edible seeds.
                
Papaya is good for balanced nutrition and it contains carbohydrates, Vitamin A, lots of C, Calcium, Iron and fiber that is good for the digestive system and the heart. Papaya also contains other vitamins and minerals like: Niacin, Foliate, Vitamin E, Magnesium, Phosphorus, Potassium, lipids and amino acids.

The Guava tree is an evergreen tree .The Guava Fruit can be round, or pear-shaped. The skin is green, usually ripening to yellow. Some varieties have thin skin and many seeds inside; others will have thick skin and few seeds. Inside, the fruit can be white, yellow, pink or red. Some Guava Fruit are sweet.

It can be  eaten as fresh or cook with. If eaten raw, owing to the seeds Guava Fruit are better seeded and then chopped or sliced as a dessert or in a fruit salad.

Jam is a common fruit. In our country, Black Berry (Kalo Jam) is seen to be produced and sold in market. The season of the fruit is May to June. The soft fruit is popular for use in desserts, jams, seedless jellies etc. The blackberry naturally occurs chemicals that can up regulate certain beneficial metabolic processes in mammals. The astringent blackberry root is sometimes used in herbal medicine as a treatment for diarrhea and dysentery.

Pomegranate fruit is known as Dalim fal. Nutritious and popular fruit. Dalim is favorite to the people because of its sweet and delicious deep colored juice with a rich flavor. Luxurious people grown Dalim in their garden to enhance beauty. But though it is not so cultivated in our country, its availability is not so bad. Everybody can get the fruit in their local market or shop.
Fruit has been recognized as a good source of vitamins and minerals, and for their role in preventing vitamin C and vitamin A deficiencies. People who eat fruit as part of an overall healthy diet generally have a reduced risk of chronic diseases. USDA’s MyPlate encourages making half your plate fruits and vegetables for healthy eating.

Fruit are important sources of many nutrients, including potassium, fiber, vitamin C and folate (folic acid). Try incorporating blueberries, citrus fruit, cranberries or strawberries which contain phytochemicals that are being studied for added health benefits.

Eating Fruit Provides Health Benefits

The nutrients in fruit are vital for health and maintenance of your body. The potassium in fruit can reduce your risk of heart disease and stroke. Potassium may also reduce the risk of developing kidney stones and help to decrease bone loss as you age.

Folate (folic acid) helps the body form red blood cells. Women of childbearing age who may become pregnant and those in the first trimester of pregnancy need adequate folate. Folate helps prevent neural tube birth defects, such as spina bifida.

More Health Benefits of Fruit:

Eating a diet rich in fruit may reduce risk for stroke, other cardiovascular diseases and type-2 diabetes.

A fruit containing eating pattern is part of an overall healthy diet and may protect against certain cancers.

Fruit helps maintain optimum health due to the health promoting phytochemicals it contains – many of which are still being identified.

One to 2-1/2 cups of fruit are recommended each day, depending on how many calories you need. To find out how much fruit you need, try the Healthy Eating Planner.

To Those Considering A Fruitarian Diet

ruitarianism: Pro
* fruit is widely regarded as the best tasting raw food, and eating fruit is very pleasant indeed - after all, we all like sugar! :-)
* it is a very cleansing diet, and may be helpful (in the short run) against diseases/disorders where physical toxemia is a factor (note: this applies to other raw foods diets as well; the point is that fruitarianism is probably the most cleansing diet)
* fruit, if it is grown locally and not shipped, refrigerated, fumigated, subjected to heat/cold treatment to kill fruit flies, etc., is a low violence food. However, shipping fruit, refrigerating it, etc. do involve violence to the environment; fruit subjected to such treatment cannot be considered a low violence food. In other words, most fruit is neither violence-free nor karma- free.
* promotes weight loss and gives you a light body
* fruitarianism alters your mental state, promoting a light and airy mental feeling that some find quite pleasant. Some interpret this as a “spiritual” feeling.
* can promote extraordinary physical health - you *appear* to be (relatively) immune to illness (at least in the short run), and injuries heal very quickly. This, combined with the “light” mental effect, makes it *appear* that you are experiencing a higher state of living.
* your respiratory system may function better than on other (cooked) diets, though only slightly better (or same) as other raw diets
* it can sharpen your senses to an extraordinary degree, especially the senses of taste and smell. Your sense of smell may get so sharp that it is emotionally painful to sit in the same room with someone who is a garlic eater, or one who smells of tobacco (you simply can’t stand the stench).
* reduces the amount of water you need to drink (as fruit is high in water)
Fruitarianism: Con
* modern fruit is expensive, lacking in vitality and quality as a result of shipping, refrigeration, fumigation, etc. The importance of year-round access to good quality local fruit limits the applicability of fruitarianism.
* fruitarians usually experience severe weight loss, with weight stabilizing at anorexic levels. It is extremely difficult to gain weight on a fruit diet, even if you overeat avocados.
* advocates of fruitarianism claim that anyone can succeed on their ideal, natural fruitarian diet if they have faith or positive thinking. This is a contradiction: does the cow need faith to succeed on diet of grass? Does the lion need positive thinking to succeed on a diet of zebra, antelope, and wildebeest meat? Of course not! If you need faith to succeed, it is probably not the “ideal, natural” diet as claimed by the advocates.
* the diet is extremely difficult, as most people find that a fruit diet is neither physically nor psychologically satisfying: hunger is frequent, and backsliding and binge eating are very common.
* fruitarians often display food-obsessive behavior. Take two pieces of bread, give one to an anorexic, and another to a fruitarian. The anorexic thinks, “I can’t eat this bread, it will create fat”; the fruitarian may think in a similar matter: “I can’t eat this bread” - with the reason(s) cited being one or more of the following delusions: a) the bread is cooked, hence toxic, b) the bread will produce mucus, which is the root of all disease, and will make me “impure”, c) the bread contains protein (and/or starch), and all protein/starch is toxic and a horror. Here the point is the obsessive attitude toward food common to the anorexic and the fruitarian.
* very easy to overeat, and easy to fall into the nasty trap of sugar addiction. Sugar is well known for its ability to promote food cravings, which often leads to binge eating and/or overeating.
* modern, cultivated fruit is very high in sugar, higher in sugar than most wild, uncultivated fruits. A diet of only fruit can provide excess sugar intake, resulting in diabetes-like symptoms: sugar cravings, excessive urination, thirst, sugar highs/blues, fatigue. Excessive sugar, in the long run, may have a negative effect on the pancreas. (Fruitarians would be well advised to daily eat some dark, bitter, leafy greens - according to several herbal health systems, bitter greens help regulate sugar metabolism and reduce sugar cravings.)
* very socially isolating. This is very difficult for most people to handle; extroverts should not try to be fruitarians! The social isolation can promote a sense of psychological deprivation, which further encourages backsliding and binge eating. The social isolation and psychological deprivation can also warp your perception of eating; instead of a nourishing, nurturing experience, it becomes an exercise in egoism (similar to the phony compassion/ego trap that so many ethical vegans fall into.) One may identify with the diet; it becomes a “badge” or “symbol” of your individuality - in other words, a projection of the ego, rather than a peaceful, nourishing experience.
* many fruitarians eventually give up the diet as it is too difficult to continue - one experiences burnout from the food obsessions, social isolation, psychological deprivation, frequent hunger. It’s interesting that some untreated anorexics also eventually recover from anorexia nervosa for the same reasons. In practice there is little difference in avoiding eating because you fear getting fat, and eating an inadequate diet because you are afraid of cooked food, mucus or protein. One must be very careful to practice fruitarianism with a totally positive attitude, lest it become a diet motivated by an obsessive fear of cooked food, mucus, or protein; for when fruitarianism is characterized and motivated by obsessive fear, it becomes an actual eating disorder!
* light, airy mental feeling that some compare to a minor drug high, and others mistake it for some kind of spiritual feeling. Said light feeling does not compare to, and is not the same as, the secure, peaceful, blissful, loving feelings that one gets from meditation or other genuine spiritual practices. I speak from direct personal experience on this point, having experienced both kinds of feelings. (P.S. some anorexics report mental effects similar to those experienced by fruitarians; that is one reason anorexia is so hard to overcome.) Note also that the “light” or “euphoric” mental feeling reported by fruitarians (and those with anorexia) may in fact be a symptom of a zinc deficiency. Zinc supplements are sometimes used in therapy for anorexia. Similarly, the loss of libido reported by some fruitarians, may be another symptom of a zinc deficiency (zinc is scarce in vegan diets, particularly raw vegan diets).
* fruitarianism, especially the 100% fruit version, is a very purifying diet, on the physical level. However, it is my observation/opinion that extensive physical purification, without accompanying spiritual or ethical development, usually leads to mental and/or emotional problems. These problems can take many forms; a few examples (in my experience/opinion), are as follows. 1) The fruitarian who was obsessed with two things - food and his bowel movements - and who drank vinegar like it was water. 2) The fruitarian who left his wife, moved to South America and lived naked with his girlfriends on a mountain. 3) The zealot fruitarian(s) who attack all diets other than (their own) raw vegan, and whose dialog is filled with ego, anger, hate, and other negativity. A pure body is irrelevant when your heart and mind are full of the poisons of anger and negativity.

An Alternative: A Near Fruitarian Diet

A “near-fruitarian” diet is an alternative to consider, for those who insist on following a high % fruit diet. It may help you avoid some of the problems of a 75+% fruit diet, but, of course, it cannot be guaranteed, and one should keep sharp watch for problems on a near-fruitarian diet as well.
For purposes of discussion, such a diet is a raw vegan diet that is approximately 70% (or less) raw fruit, with emphasis on semi-sweet and (to the extent possible) neutral fruit.

And, the remainder of the diet consists of:

- dark leafy greens and other vegetables. Emphasis is on bitter greens, but should also eat astringent, pungent, salty tasting greens. According to several herbal health systems, such greens help regulate sugar metabolism and provide some protection from sugar addiction. They also provide chlorophyll and minerals, and provide tastes that are difficult to get in fruits (most of which are predominantly sweet or sour).

- It’s also a good idea to regularly eat some ginger to promote the digestive fire. If you object to ginger, eat pungent greens instead: mustard, arugula, watercress.

- Sprouts, specifically almonds, sesame, sunflower, pumpkin, peanut, also flax. These provide fatty acids that are scarce in fruit (you do get tired of avocados if eaten daily). Green jelly coconuts are good also. Buckwheat, other sprouts are also OK but do not supply fatty acids.
Additional considerations:

- get vitamin B-12 from a reliable source (supplement)
- do something to avoid or counter stress and social isolation
- last but most important: make spiritual or ethical development a top priority, to reduce/avoid the potential mental and emotional problems that often occur.

The term neutral fruit refers to fruits that are neither sweet, nor acid. This includes many “vegetable fruits”: tomatoes, sweet peppers, zucchini, eggplant, cucumbers. However, these fruits also present problems if one tries to make them the basis of a diet: - tomatoes - can be acidic, and many people react negatively to them, especially when eaten in quantity, - zucchini has little or no flavor, - raw eggplant is not appealing, in texture or flavor, - sweet peppers are notorious for causing gas (severe flatulence), - cucumbers - the least offensive, but provide almost no calories, and very little nutrition. What do you call someone on a long-term, (nearly) mono- cucumber diet? In my opinion, the term anorexic may apply.

Neutral fruit, primarily cucumbers and some tomatoes, can be part of your diet, but are not a sufficient basis for a diet for most people. Some fruitarians suggest that you emphasize neutral fruit if you have trouble with the high sugar content of sweet fruit. Be aware that you may experience severe weight loss if your diet is based on cucumbers.

Don’t try fruitarianism out of fear of cooked food, mucus or protein. If you choose to try fruitarianism - do so ONLY if you have clear, positive reasons to motivate you, and do watch for signs of ALL the potential problems listed above. A fruitarian diet that includes protein foods and leafy greens, will pose fewer risks/problems than a 100% fruit diet. The information in this article is offered in the hope that it may help others who are considering fruitarianism.

Some readers of this article may think the difficulties of fruitarianism are exaggerated here: they are not, but you are of course free to find out the hard way, if you insist. To anyone on a fruitarian diet, or contemplating one, good luck - you may need it!

 

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Editor : M. Shamsur Rahman

Published by the Editor on behalf of Independent Publications Limited at Media Printers, 446/H, Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1215.
Editorial, News & Commercial Offices : Beximco Media Complex, 149-150 Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1208, Bangladesh. GPO Box No. 934, Dhaka-1000.

Editor : M. Shamsur Rahman
Published by the Editor on behalf of Independent Publications Limited at Media Printers, 446/H, Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1215.
Editorial, News & Commercial Offices : Beximco Media Complex, 149-150 Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1208, Bangladesh. GPO Box No. 934, Dhaka-1000.

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