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Good Habits #7 – Mom Was Right About Keeping The Doctor Away

Any one of a certain age remembers the health propaganda one liners we were fed as a child.  I’ve written a whole piece on how a secret cabal of mothers feeds these into our brains.  Well, one of those one-line indoctrination pieces was “An apple a day keeps the doctor away.”  Although I still take umbrage at being doused in dietary agitprop from an early age, I have to admit that this one, like many others, has an element of truth.  Despite my natural resistance to the brainwashing from insipid public service announcements I was inundated with as a child, I have to admit that apples, and other fruit, are really good for you.

Now, any keto bros reading this are cringing at the thought of someone encouraging others to eat something with (gasp) carbs or (double gasp) sugar in it.  But occasional natural sugar isn’t that bad.  Fruits are good for you.  And some other people reading this might be chuckling at how obvious this statement seems.  But the point of this piece is to explain how fruits are good for you.

Let’s start with those apple things I mentioned.  Nutrient wise, one apple has a little bit of just about everything.  Various nutrients, usually in the range of 2-5% of my Recommended Daily Allowance.  And for the carb obsessed (e.g. keto bros), they only have about seven percent of my daily carb RDA, or 19 grams.  Which isn’t bad.  And they only have about 100 calories.  Which really isn’t bad.

Apples are not exactly superfood when it comes to vitamins and minerals.  More of a jack-of-all-trades food with a bit of everything.  As is the case with the apple’s cousin, the pear.  But there is a hidden benefit for those of us trying to lose weight: They leave you feeling full for a long while.  This makes them a great afternoon snack.  Eating an apple or a pear when I get home from work is a good way to make it to dinner without binging on potato chips or other less healthy things.

Another fruit worth eating is the delectable delight of my home state, Georgia.  Peaches, which are much better than apples as far as nutrition goes.  They have a decent chunk of Vitamin A and C, and a smattering of various other nutrients.  They have fewer carbs (12 grams) and only 60 calories.  So these are an even better option than apples and pears.  Unless you have them in a peach cobbler.  I’ve pointed out the dangers of desserts before.

The unfortunately phallic fruit known as bananas are even more nutritious than peaches, apples, or pears. They have a third of my vitamin B6 RDA and over 10% of my vitamin C, potassium, manganese, and copper needs.  Also, a decent amount of magnesium, which is hard to come by, as I’ve noted before in a previous piece.  Meanwhile, they only supply 11% of the recommended carbs (24 grams), and only a 100 calories.  

I also discovered in my younger, more dangerous years, that they’re a really good hangover remedy.  I’ve written before how too much alcohol can ruin a diet.  But if you do go too far, and are regretting things the next morning, a banana can ease a soured stomach.  The brown water of life (coffee) also helps.

Speaking of alcohol, when it comes to fruits there’s unprocessed wine to consider.  And by that I mean grapes.  30 of these gets me a big slice of my daily vitamin B6, vitamin K and copper, and sundry other nutrients.  All for only 100 calories and 11% (25 grams) of my daily carbs.

For slightly more exotic fruits, the results get better.  For example, one cup’s worth of honeydew melon has 70 calories and 7% (10 grams) of the daily carbs limit.  It also gets me about 40% of my vitamin C requirements, 12% or so of my vitamin B6 and potassium needs, and various other things.  

It’s cousin the cantaloupe is better.  One cup has 55 calories, 5% or my daily carbs (or 11 grams), two-thirds of my vitamin C, 12% or so of my potassium, and more than the daily requirement of vitamin A.

As for kiwi (not the weird looking New Zealand bird, the fruit) one fruit yields 42 calories, has 4% of my daily carbs (8 grams), nearly three quarters of my Vitamin C requirements, nearly one quarter of my Vitamin K requirements, and 10% of my copper needs, amongst other things.

These are all very good for you, with low cost in calories and carbs. But, there’s one major drawback.  They lack…taste.  I mean, I’m sure they taste better than cardboard (I’ve never tried it), but the epic, Pat Sajak levels of blandness in these things makes eating them a chore.  I really only eat them when they’re free, or at least come with a hotel room (such as “free” breakfast at Hampton Inn or whatever).  But I prefer to spend my own money on stuff with a bit more flavor.

Exotic things with actual flavor exist, though.  Mangos are heavier on calories than the other things I’ve mentioned, with 200 total. They have 20% my daily carbs (about 44 grams), so this is a bit more than the other fruits I’ve listed. Enough to make the Adkins/Keto/Carnivore/Low-carb types balk at this.  But it’s worth it.  They have a decent chunk of several B vitamins, vitamin K, and potassium, 20% of my vitamin E needs (another vitamin that I’ve noticed can be hard to get enough of), 40% or my copper, and more vitamin A and C than I need all day.

Papayas are good too. A decent sized one has 160 calories, and 13% (35 grams) of my daily carb limit.  They are heavy on B vitamins, have more than the needed A and C, and 20% of my copper and magnesium requirements. Exotic fruits that actually taste like something appear to be among the most nutritious options. So even if they are a little heavier in calories and carbs, you kind of get what you pay for with these.

I’ve also discovered some new fruits that can provide good nutrition.  One thing I discovered using the Cronometer app is that it can recommend foods based on what nutrition goals I haven’t met.  It analyzes my remaining needs and recommends something that will fulfil what’s left.  Oftentimes, a single fruit of some kind will fill the gaps.  The problem is that it suggests things that are awfully…outlandish.  Things I’ve never heard of, and wouldn’t be sure where to find.  But I guess I’ll list a couple of the most commonly recommended obscurities just for laughs.

One thing Cronometer likes to suggest is a Santa Claus Melon.  I have never in my life seen a Santa Claus Melon.  Nor had I ever heard of one.  No local supermarket carries them.  I have a hunch that the only place I could find them is if I went to some hard to find specialty market and bought them from some beardneck in a baha who smells of cannabis.  Fortunately, as it turns out, they’re about the same as honeydew in terms of nutrition.  Honeydew are readily available at stores where the staff have good personal hygiene.

Another thing Cronometer occasionally suggests is cherimoya, a bizarre looking fruit that looks like an apple and an artichoke had a horribly deformed lovechild which they abandoned in a ditch.  Although I hear they’re actually good.  The greatest American author of all time, Mark Twain, swore by them.

And they are nutritious.  Fill up a cup with hunks of this and I get 120 calories, 16% of my carbs (34 grams), about one fifth of my thiamine, potassium, and copper needs, one quarter of my riboflavin needs, one sixth of my vitamin B5 RDA, almost half of my vitamin B6 needs, one third of my vitamin C, and 85% of my selenium requirements.

There’s a reason I’ve never found either of these in stores, though.  These (to my knowledge) don’t exist on my continent.  The Santa Claus melon is from…Spain.  Of course it is.  Who doesn’t immediately think of Spain when they think of Santa Claus?  The figure who is a conflation of a Turkish saint and a figure from Norse mythology clearly screams “Spain”.

And the cherimoya comes from…South America.  Which is less surprising than Santa Claus melons being from Spain.  But it’s a pretty long trip there, and I gather that we don’t spend a lot of time shipping them north.  So unless you have some hippie grocer nearby who specializes in exotics (the aforementioned beardneck), these are hard to come by.  Or you could buy them on Amazon.  Of course they’re on Amazon.  For $16 a pound.  Which is an affront to human decency.  I won’t even buy steak for that much.

Fortunately, since I’m now a Florida man, there are certain other options available closer to my home.  There are always certain citrusy type things around.  Such as oranges. Of course.  Each of these gives me a mere 60 calories, 5% of my carb RDA (12 grams), three quarters of my vitamin C, a decent serving of vitamin A and folate, and various other stuff.  Lemons and limes have the same stuff, but proportionately less, since they’re smaller.  Grapefruit, on the other hand, is more nutritious. It has decent vitamin B and potassium, lots of vitamin A and C (almost 100% RDA) for 100 calories and 10% (23 grams) of my carbs. 

But… it’s gross.  As I’ve mentioned before, I believe they are a cruel joke cast upon the Earth by dark, sinister, elder gods of Lovecraftian origin to cause suffering amongst humanity.  Basically, Cthulhu’s primary goal was to give humanity permanent “bitter face”.  Obviously.

Anyway, apart from citrus, Florida is also known for strawberries.  A cup of these yields 50 calories, 4% of my carbs (8 grams), all the vitamin C I need for the day, and  one quarter of my manganese.

And lastly, another thing you can get in Florida is pineapple.  Yes, certain parts are warm enough for it to grow.  A cup of this has 80 calories, 9% (19 grams) of my carbs, 88% of my vitamin C, 11% of my thiamine, 67% of my manganese RDA. and a decent portion of vitamin B6 and copper.  And, of course, a smattering of other nutrients in smaller quantities. 

This is obviously not an all inclusive list, but the overall point is that fruits are low calorie, and generally nutrient dense.  So I would encourage my keto bros to bag their carbophobia and occasionally eat one. A few carbs won’t kill you. Lack of certain key vitamins and minerals might. And those who don’t have irrational fear of carbs would also be well advised to add one or two of these to your daily diet.

So will an apple a day (or any other fruit) keep the doctor away?  Not necessarily.  They aren’t a miracle cure.  And you could get hit by a bus.  Fruits don’t help with that.  But they do offer some good nutrition at low caloric cost and are a good way to avoid curbing your appetite between meals.  So eat plenty of fruits.  Between meals or as part of one.  They’re an easy way to get healthy without getting fat.  And keeping your weight down and your micronutrients up does keep the doctor away.

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Published by drilldowndiet

Formerly obese CPA/health humorist using Cronometer and FitBod to lose weight. Sharing assorted life hacks to squeeze nutrition and exercise into a busy schedule. Also on Twitter at @drilldowndiet and Facebook.

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