The forbidden fruit

The forbidden fruit

Once upon a time, there was a couple that lived in one of the most beautiful enchanted forests. The couple would bask in the opening space on the forest floor when the weather was too cold to bear, or would hide beneath the canopy of the trees when the sun was scorching their naked skin. They neither toiled nor spun, for their daily needs were provided for by the very same forest that sheltered them. They were allowed to feast on every wild fruit they could lay their hands on, except of course for one fruit tree. Their master had expressly forbidden them against the consumption of the produce of this tree.

However, deep in the shadows of the forest was their cunning neighbour; the serpent. He would sneak out when the master was out of sight and would visit the couple just to pass time. In this particular day, even the husband was not at home when the serpent neighbour paid the family a visit. The silver-tongued neighbour, deceitfully cajoled the neighbour’s wife to have a taste of the forbidden tree, having convinced her of all the benefits she would get from feasting up such fruit.

Hesitantly the wife took the forbidden fruit and upon reaching her tongue, her brain was left mystified by its pure sweetness. Hours later, the husband returned, she was quick to serve this delicacy to the husband. He was not so keen at first, but the persistent wife was able to urge him to take just one bite from the fruit. That one bite was enough. The man was immediately converted and the serpent, having hit the target, slithered into the darkness of the forest where he dwells. The master had warned against the eating of that fruit, telling them that if they ever devour the fruit, they surely would die. Why was this particular fruit forbidden?

Are the fruits healthy for our health? Should we be eating fruits daily? Can an apple a day keep the doctor away? Well! Not really. Fruit is not nearly as good as you have been led to believe. There is so much propaganda around the topic of fruit consumption promoted by the silver-tongued serpent, the food industry. We are losing a battle around lifestyle diseases these days. We are getting fatter and sicker by what we eat. We are losing the war and rapidly so. The fruits that we are having now are hybrids. Which means, over the years, they have been created to be sweeter and sweeter, like Honeycrisp apple which has about 19 grams of sugar (approximately 5 teaspoons of sugar).

Modern fruit is far from natural. We are therefore consuming more sugary fruits than our forefathers did. In the past, people could only eat fruits that were in season, but now we eat fruits all year around and this is not natural. To make matters worse, some people cannot differentiate between a fruit and a fruit juice, thinking that they are the same but they are not. The juice is not just without the fibre, but it is also without nutrients because it has been pasteurised and heated killing a lot of heat sensitive vitamins and enzymes. You are then left with only pure liquid-sugar verses that which has fibre, vitamins and enzymes.

Fruit has a larger amount of sugar called fructose. “Hona ke meleko!” (This is devilry). You nearly heard yourself cursing. But wait! Before tearing this page into pieces and throwing the whole newspaper into the trash bin, let us look into how fructose is metabolised in our body. Fructose does not, like glucose, go to all the cells in the body. 100 percent of it goes to the liver. Fructose bypasses all of our appetite-control systems and jumps a critical step in our metabolism that would ordinarily stop our arteries filling up with circulating fat.

If you eat fat, our built-in system can detect if we have reached a certain threshold and will quickly stop us from eating any more of the fat. But this is not the case with fructose. Since it has bypassed the normal routes taken by glucose, fructose is not going to spike your blood sugar as much. So, if you consume a fruit and check your blood sugar, you will go “wow it didn’t affect my blood sugar, it must be good”, unaware that all that sugar has gone straight to your liver and your liver has to deal with it.

If you consume too much, it will lead to insulin resistance, which will conversely raise insulin. If your liver has to deal with too much fructose, it has to store it somewhere in your body and so it will convert it to fat. A word of caution here: because of the high percentage of people with the problem with high blood-sugar and pre-diabetes, it is recommended that you consume a small amount of berries and not do fruit. Think of diabetes for a minute. What is it? Simply put, it is a high content of sugar in your blood. So then, why would you want to add fruit to a condition that is already too high in sugar? Back to the modern fruit. Let us look at the nutritional aspect of fruit compared to other seasonal plants. Say you take a fruit for its antioxidant properties. Well, coffee is at least five times more antioxidant value compared to fruit.

The silver-tongued serpent of our modern times has also advertised fruit as rich in vitamins, but gram for gram the following have greater concentration of vitamins than most fruits; green leafy vegetables, broccoli, avocado, asparagus and brussel sprouts. We are further told that fruit is full of minerals. But wait! Gram for gram, the following foods have greater amount of minerals than most fruits; again, green leafy vegetables, broccoli, beans and avocado. As advertised, we need fibre. Or do we? But then again, fibre could be a topic for another article. However, the following have a higher concentration of fibre than most fruits; green leafy vegetables, broccoli, cauliflower and beans.

So, what is the thought on the modern fruit as a “healthy food” to be eaten daily? Well, it could be classified as sefate sa lipompong (confectionery on a tree). It is a sugar wrapped up in shiny package, low in nutritional value. There are far better alternatives around that are more seasonal but without the sugar. There are those unconventional fruits that are low in fructose but high in nutrition, such as avocado, tomato, berries and cucumber. Maybe we should be growing our vegetables all year round instead of the packaged fruits.

Our fruit is no longer natural, it has been manipulated to increase the sugar content to further increase its shelf life as it travels across the world to your home. Chemicals are used in agriculture from seed to harvest and beyond. Juicing fruit adds chemicals, drying fruit has added chemicals and every step of the way something happens. Sorry for the bad news, but fruit is not necessary every day. You can actually get away without having a fruit most of the year which is basically what happened for the last 2 million years.

Understand that the sugar in the fruit will make you hungry and remember the fruit is there in nature to help you eat more fruit (it wants you to propagate its seed). Sugar is linked with obesity and inflammation. It is linked with modern diseases.

The food industry is also doing its job, it wants you to eat more to maximise its profits. Is fruit bad for you? No, but it surely is not as good as it is advertised to be. Maybe God wanted to warn us that the forbidden fruit hanging on the tree could be irresistible for a short term, but there are long term consequences when we eat something we are not meant to.

l Tšepang Ledia is a Public Relations Officer at Lesotho Electricity Company. He writes in his own capacity. For feedback, send to: mrledia@gmail.com

Tšepang Ledia

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