Five seasonal fruits to keep you healthy and beautiful
You know in India, a lot of our habits pertaining to food and lifestyle are getting influenced by the Americans. One such example is our consumption of fruits and vegetables. In the earlier days, nobody could think of having oranges in June or mangoes is December. But thanks to our supermarkets which are aping the American supermarkets and also the cold storage, we do get to eat carrots in May. Oh! Did you know that carrot was a winter vegetable? A lot of people don’t because it’s ‘available’ year through.
But this is not how it works in France and most of the European countries, especially on their roadside fruit stalls or outdoor markets. You do not get strawberries in December. They sell stuff as nature intended for i.e seasonal fruits and vegetables only. Except for a few tourists and first-time buyers people’s purchasing preference also acts accordingly.
There are pros and cons to both. A definite pro of all year through the availability of consumables is that you don’t have to wait for December to make vegetable fried rice. And you can certainly serve berry juices in the winter. But there must have been a reason why certain fruits grow at certain times of the year. Watermelon, for example, contains 90% water and is meant to keep the body hydrated while providing the much-required calories in the summer. Winter is the time for cold and flu and the vitamin C content in the citrus fruits harvested at that time, helps your body put up a fight against cold.
Now that it is summertime in India, let’s look at some of those nutrition packed fruits of the season which can keep your hair, skin and overall self healthy.
How can one talk about summer and leave out the king of fruits – mango? From Alphonso to Langra, Dusehri to Safeda mango rules the market since mid-April. Mango is a stone fruit that typically grows in warmer climates such as South Asia. Thankfully it’s found all over India and is sold with as much love as bought. The trees start blossoming by the late spring and the tree fruits by April. Mostly the unripe green mangoes which are used for pickle are available in April. Towards the end of the month, the fruits start ripening and the rich, fleshy, delightfully yum prize is ready. Along with Vitamin C and A, mangoes also contain iron, calcium and are rich in fiber which eases digestion and has a laxative effect. This helps in cleaning the gut. Vitamins present are responsible for collagen formation – good for the hair and elasticity of the skin and also antioxidants that prevent early aging. The vitamin c also helps in iron absorption. Vitamin A also helps in producing sebum – the oily substance which moisturizes the skin and scalp. Along with folate, mangoes also have vitamin E which is the key component of all skin-repairing agents. Natural skin tonic, anyone?
This refreshing fruit is God’s gift to mankind during summers. It contains more than 90% water which helps to keep the body hydrated. In addition to Vitamin C and A, it contains a lot of other essential compounds and fiber. The water and fibre fill your stomach without having to eat much much. This means you have filled your stomach with nutrition and there is no place for unhealthy calories. Isn’t that good? Watermelon contains lycopene which is an antioxidant that helps the skin to recover from suntan. Lycopene is a phenomenal compound found in most red fruits and vegetables such as tomatoes. It is believed to be anticarcinogenic, delays the onset of Alzheimer’s disease by taking care of the brain, and it also prevents macular degeneration or adult blindness. How many of us knew that watermelons not only hydrates us but does so much for our body? Tip: Don’t drink just the juice, have the whole fruit.
Also spelled as Lychee is considered a symbol of love and romance in China. This round, oval or heart-shaped fruit originated in China where it is extremely popular and is found in warm, tropical places. In India litchi is found around May or early June. But this delightful, delicious, creamy fruit is quite short-lived and is seen in the markets for not more than 3-4 weeks. Did you know that behind the leathery skin, this simple, water-rich, sweet, flavorful white pulp contains 100% of our daily requirement of vitamin C? Yes, a cup of litchi can fulfill your daily requirement of vitamin C all by itself. Litchi also contains flavonoids and quercetin – a rich source of antioxidants that are required for good skin and healthy hair. Antioxidants are nature’s way of defending your skin cells from the decaying activity of free radicals or reactive oxygen. Litchi, among all fruits, has the highest concentration of polyphenols. Among them is Rutin, a bioflavonoid that strengthens blood vessels and by doing so, helps your circulatory system. Don’t miss out on this gem of a fruit.
This is a low profile, humble but nutritious fruit native to India and other parts of South Asia such as Sri Lanka, Thailand, Myanmar. Those who aren’t familiar with the term “wood apple”, may like to know that it called by other names such as Elephant apple (as it is a favorite fruit of elephants) and as “bael” or “bilva” in India. Even if you aren’t aware of the fruit, you definitely know that without leaves of bael or “bilva patra” Shiv puja is considered incomplete. So why is wood apple so called? It has a very hard outer shell because of which it gets its name. The brown pulpy part inside the shell is edible and is eaten as chutney (when unripe and sour), as custard or as Sharbat or cold beverage with sugar or honey. It provides the body with immediate relief from the heat and is believed to protect the harsh loo winds of North Indian summer. Riboflavin, beta carotene, and thiamine in Wood apple boost the health of the liver thus reducing marks and spots on the skin which are due to weakness in the liver. Wood apple is considered to be an important blood purificator. A small amount of the fruit pulp mixed with water and sugar can release the body of harmful toxins making the skin look clearer.
Papaya is a tropical fruit that originated in Central America. It is loaded with nutrients. The unripe papaya is eaten as a vegetable and is cooked before eating. And the ripe papaya can be eaten raw. The pulp is almost like mango but a little less sweet. The seeds are bitter but edible. It is rich in Vitamin C. Papaya is loaded with antioxidants, especially lycopene. Papaya has an enzyme called papain which breaks down protein bonds. That’s why papaya has been used for ages as a meat tenderizer. Papaya helps to digest proteins and increased metabolism. It also gives relief in constipation and bloating. Among its many benefits, Papaya’s antioxidant properties is known to also cure Alzheimer’s. This fruit is truly miraculous if added to the diet.