Summer fruit: what you need to know

Written by Veronica Lavenia

Summer fruit is colorful, juicy, beautiful and good. We wait for it for almost a year and, like every year, in addition to consuming it alone, we use it for the most varied preparations from salads, to desserts, to smoothies and popsicles.

Many, due to the high temperatures, often consume only, or mainly, fruit in the summer, certain to “purify themselves” and, above all, to lose the weight accumulated in the winter months. Yet, if preferring seasonal fruit is a good habit in the right doses, replacing it with a meal can be ineffective or even harmful.

Gloria Barraco, doctor and nutritionist, author of the book “Matricole a Tavola”, as well as founder together with Dr. Francesco Morano of the digital platform Officina del Nutrizionista.,  explains how to make the most of summer fruit and why replacing meals with fruit doesn’t make you lose it.

©Gloria Barraco- Officina del Nutrizionista

Summer fruit is the most celebrated in cooking magazines for its beauty and versatility, the most consumed, above all, among young people, often reluctant to eat fruit and vegetables. What is special about it from a nutritional point of view?

Just look at the colors. So alive, bright, and beautiful they give us multiple pigments that hide precious molecules such as anthocyanins, flavonoids, lycopene with antioxidant power. They are among the richest in water and mineral salts. Nature knows it has to refuel in a hot period when the loss of hydration and minerals is, of course, more important. The fruit of this period is also particularly rich in beta-carotene, which is essential for the health of our skin exposed to the sun.

©Gloria Barraco- Officina del Nutrizionista

Is there a summer fruit of Mediterranean origin that, more than others, you would recommend during this period?

Difficult to give a single alternative as an answer but if I really have to, I would say cherries. Being a particularly scholar of chronobiology, a science that studies our biological rhythms, I could not fail to choose cherries for their natural richness in melatonin and magnesium, both substances that give rhythm to our biological clocks. Plus, their bright red speaks volumes about their ability to help our blood vessels including the smallest capillaries. The stalk? An excellent drainage. Let it dry and put it in water. Drinking the infusion has a very draining effect.

When should fruit be consumed and in what quantity?

Its consumption is certainly not free given the presence of rapidly absorbed sugars inside them. Three servings of fruit are optimal for most people. A portion can be easily estimated by considering the quantity that, more or less, goes into a saucer from a coffee cup. One serving will be one peach, but it will be 2-3 apricots and a dozen cherries. Then when? I would say when you prefer it. The myth of no fruit after meals is now old and without evidence in the general population. There are, however, exceptions. In some categories of patients specific considerations must be made, for example with diabetic or sugar intolerant patients, with patients suffering from irritable bowel, gastroesophageal reflux, in some forms of cancer more precise choices must be made both in terms type of fruit, both in terms of when to take it.

©Gloria Barraco- Officina del Nutrizionista

Why summer fruit, while being a panacea for our body, cannot replace a meal, nor can it make you lose weight if taken instead of one of the main meals?

It does not give our body that balance it seeks and needs in a main meal. Considering that a balanced meal should provide both carbohydrates, proteins, fats but also vitamins and mineral salts, fruit provides vitamins, mineral salts and many sugars or carbohydrates but little or very little (with some exceptions) of the other macronutrients. This balance and completeness in macro and micronutrients our body also seeks for weight loss, for general health. That’s why it’s not okay to just take fruit.

©Gloria Barraco- Officina del Nutrizionista

A summer that, thanks to climate change, is particularly hot. The temptation to eat fruit in all forms (alone; in DIY popsicles; in sweets or smoothies) is strong. Isn’t there also the risk of exceeding with sugars?

Unfortunately yes, because it is very good. Above all, however, if blended, mixed to create popsicles or added to desserts, you run the risk of eating a lot of them, not noticing it and, above all, of exceeding with sugars. By losing the peel and the act of chewing, the sugars become even more easily absorbed, causing blood sugar to rise rapidly.

A quick dessert to prepare in a short time based on summer fruit. What do you advise?

Definitely recommend the stuffed apricots. Just cut them in half, remove the core and fill them as you like. Very good with yogurt and granola or with ricotta and chocolate chips or with our famous avocadella (avocado and cocoa cream).

Don’t miss:

Gloria Barraco: Throw the scales away!

How to feed in the time of Covid19: interview with Gloria Barraco


About the author

Veronica Lavenia

Her scientific papers have been published in some of the most renowned international literary academic journals.
Italian based writer and magazine contributor.
Author of six books, some of her works have appeared in the most popular International Food magazines.
Food Connoisseur.
EVOO Communicator. Founder of the EVOO Column at "The Wolf Post".
Writer| Translator| Communication Manager at "The Wolf Post", since the birth of the magazine.

She has always lived in the countryside. She has learned to "get her hands dirty", working and reaping the benefits of the fields, since she was a child. She participated in grape harvests, olive picking and assisted in the subsequent stages of production.
Food & Wine tourism were the family holidays that educated her on the subject.

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