Tips On How To Select And Store Fruits

Fruits are one such category of our grocery which we may want to store them to last a reasonable period of time. But before we procure them, it would be quite helpful if we are aware of some small aspects of how to select, pick or buy and then store them for a few days. Here are some simple and practical tips for the commonly used fruits in most households.

 Apples :

Mostly apples are ripe when picked and may be transported to long distances. They are generally safe and ripe for almost 6 weeks. Look for firm varieties and avoid the ones with soft or blemished spots. You may be able to store them in plastic bags for longer in the fridge if not over ripe already.

Bananas :

This is one fruit which is fragile and bruises easily and need to be handled with care. The best bet is to buy them when greenish and once the peels turn yellow and hints of brown, they are ready to consume. Of course raw bananas too can be used to cook as a vegetable or snack. If placed in a cool area in the kitchen or dining area they can be good to eat till about a week or so. They could be hanged from a hook too in an area where the rook is generally air conditioned in hot summers. Be wary of over ripe bananas which may be unfit for consumption. It would be advisable for individuals with issues of indigestion, flatulence and diabetes, to select slightly firm but ripe bananas.

Pineapple :

The fully ripe variety is the best choice to select. Check if it is slightly firm with a sweet smell, yellow skin and dark green leaves. It can be stored whole at room temperature. Once peeled and cut and sliced, it can stay good for a week in the fridge in covered bowls.

Cantaloupe :

This fruit is ready to eat once it begins to have a typical strong smell. Once ripened, it will stay good in the fridge for 4-5 days in a covered bowl after cutting and slicing it. It will be a good idea to keep them away from rest of the vegetables, to keep them fresh.

Kiwi :

Till it is hard and un ripe, it can sit in the room temperature. To know if it is ready, check if it is tender enough to give a slight squeeze. Once ripened, it can keep fresh for about 5-6 days in the fridge.

Citrus fruits:

If picking from the tree, a properly ripened fruit (orange, lime,) will clip easily from the tree without resistance. Once ripened oranges and lemon will remain fresh at room temperature in cooler months depending on their stage of ripeness when picked and bought. In warmer months it would be best to store them in the fridge, but not in plastic bags so that they remain fresh for longer. Lime can stay good for almost 2 weeks at room temperature after which they can be placed into loosely sealed zip lock pouches up to 4 weeks. Unlike oranges and sweet lemons, lime will begin to turn brown as they age which is a sign that they should be discarded, being unfit for consumption. A god idea would be to freeze the lime after cutting and squeezing the juice which can be stored in ice cube trays.

Water Melon :

To select water melon one should look for the skin that is dull and slightly waxy ( although sellers might wax them before selling)and should yield only slightly to pressure. Avoid the ones with cuts or dents with the stem attached, brownish and dry. The round oblong melon should be symmetrical and without any flat sides feeling heavier for its size. One small tip to select the ripe variety is to use the thumping method. This can be done by flicking your index finger against the melon, listening for a rich thud, which indicates its ripeness. It would be better to avoid melons with white streaks through the flesh (if cut) which is mealy, dry, cracked or separated from the seeds. Best is to avoid buying pre cut fruit. The whole water melon can be stored at room temperature for up to a week and in the fridge for about 10 -14 days. Cut water melon should be wrapped in plastic, refrigerated and consumed within 3-4 days. One warning to keep in mind is to avoid very large sized or too sweet ones, since they may be injected by sugar water or glucose by unscrupulous sellers.

Grapes :

The best way to pick the grapes is to check if they are not over ripe, bruised or wilting. They should be firmly attached to the stems and not falling off and plump. Grapes are best stored in the fridge in either paper or plastic bags with some air to pass through. Avoid stacking them in a heap which may restrict air circulation to prevent spoilage. It would be good idea to first thoroughly wash them, dry well before refrigerating. They can be stored for up to a week or more depending on how ripe they are already.

Eat Your Way To Keep Cancer at Bay

How often are we shocked to hear of any of our loved ones, a close family member or an acquaintance being suddenly diagnosed of that dreaded condition called ‘cancer’? Going retrospectively then on their past years, we are further perplexed and wonder how on earth that particular individual who was a teetotaller, strict vegetarian, non smoker and so active land up with this unfortunate condition? Well friends it is much more than just smoking, alcohol or being strict vegetarian to be immune from falling prey to cancer. Well, it is our total lifestyle and what and how our eating behaviour is, that makes all the difference.

What Can Cause Cancer :

While a lot of factors may not be within our control to prevent from such conditions, like genetics or occupational hazards or environmental conditions like air pollution, drugs etc, yet one important factor that can reduce one’s risks of developing cancer apart from the factors mentioned above, is, what and how we eat, besides of course keeping off habits like smoking, alcohol etc. In short, our eating behaviour through our life cycle matters to a great extent. Yes, one can actually eat their way to prevent or fight cancer through our day to day dietary choices and pattern of eating.

Food Diversity :

We need to have a diversity of foods on our plate which includes diversity of different types and colours too. No singe food by itself can prevent cancer. What is required is the right combinations of different foods and striking a balance between the good healthy plant based and no more than two third of animal based foods which includes poultry and dairy too. The ‘My Plate’ concept best reflects the concept, wherein you have a plate divided into one half being fruits and vegetables, one fourth comprising the legumes or pulses or an animal based source and the remaining being the whole grains and alongside a portion of dairy and water.

Get the Rainbow :

Most of our fruits and vegetables come with different colours in different seasons and these contain the cancer fighting nutrients. More the colours you have on your plate (red and yellow – tomatoes, watermelon, guava, papaya), blue and purple – brinjal plums blueberries, purple cabbage), orange – carrots, mangoes, pumpkin, apricots), green – spinach, broccoli, cabbage), brown – beans, chickpeas, lentils), more the nutrient diversity you get in the right proportions. Compounds like polyphenols, lycopene, anthocyanins, phytonutrients, beta carotene etc. present in various colours, all have diverse role and action in our body to work against harmful inflammatory compounds or toxins which gradually over a period of time can develop into cancer cells. A point to bear in mind is that the beneficial effects of such foods do not show up overnight. One has to have them throughout their lifetime to reap their benefits.

Folate rich foods :

Research shows that folic acid, which is a part of the B complex vitamins, plays a crucial role in prevention by blocking the cancer cells in the early stages, esp. like in colorectal cancers it is considered as a magic bullet. Most of the dark green vegetables, like spinach, lettuce and beans besides animal products are good source.

Junk the Junk :

Foods which are ultra processed, high in sugars, polished and refined foods, excessive consumption of processed meats, smoked foods like ham, sausages, deli meat, hot dogs burgers and the like can all lead to production of toxic compounds which over time can be high risk factors for cancer cell growth, examples being stomach and colon cancers.

Tomatoes, The Saviour :

Including tomatoes both raw and cooked in our meals is great ideas they excellent sources of anti oxidants which help prevent cancer. The lycopene formed by cooking tomatoes and the ascorbic acid in the raw ones both are powerful cancer fighters.

Grapes, the Elixir :

The compound reservertol present in grapes and the juice has strong anti oxidant and anti inflammatory effects which can help prevent cancer.

The Soothing Green Tea :

As per the research available, laboratory studies have shown that the polyphenols in the green tea have been shown to have good anti oxidant effect by slowing or preventing the development of cancer in the colon, liver, breast and prostate cells. However, research for more evidence is stil on going.

The Bean family :

The compound phytochemicals present in most beans are known to be cancer preventive by action of their role in preventing cell damage that can lead to cancer.

The Cabbage and Green Family :

Most of the cruciferous vegetables (like cabbage, cauliflower and broccoli) and spinach are considered highly cancer protective especially the colon, breast, lung and cervix. This is due to their high folate and carotenoid content.

The desi Curcumin :

This is the potent compound in the spice turmeric , an important item of the Indian kitchen pharmacy. It has promising action against most cancers by virtue of its role in suppressing the transformation and proliferation and invasion of cancer cells. The correct dose and mode of consuming it also matters.

Go light weight :

Yes, the lighter your baggage, the better. Excess weight or obesity itself can be an inflammatory condition. Excess fat deposition by way of routine consumption of sugars and sweetened beverages, refined and processed carbohydrates, devoid of fiber can be high risk factor for development of cancer of the stomach, liver and colon.

Cooking Methods Do Matter :

Any of the above mentioned foods may still not be of much use if the way they are cooked, stored and combinations of various foods are not right. Cooking foods using dry heat like grilling, baking, toasting, smoking, deep or shallow frying and exposing to high heat for prolonged time can totally alter the chemical structure by producing compounds call acyl glyconated end products (AGEs), which can be potentially carcinogenic. Better methods would include moist heating, stewing, steaming which can retain the beneficial properties of the same foods. Although one may not be able to completely avoid such cooking methods, the saving grace would be to include plenty of salads and vegetables along side or add some lemon juice or vinegar to counter the ill effects to some extent.
Yet friends, it may not be practical to always follow the right track, you can still enjoy occasionally by keeping a tab on portion control and occasional indulgence.

The Why’s and How’s of Good Liver Health

It might surprise you to know that the liver, a cone shaped organ, is the second largest solid organ in your body after skin which is considered as the largest organ, weighing a little more than 1 Kg and hold up to almost 450 ml of water or 13% of your blood at any given time. It sits between your diaphragm on top and your stomach below. It can be considered as the Jack of all trades considering the fact the functions it performs right from filtering off toxic or unwanted by products from your blood, stores fuel for energy release when you go into starving mode and makes a liquid called bile which helps you digest the food you eat.

Functions of the Liver :

This wonderful organ actually can act as your fuel tank, by balancing our energy sources. It stores fuel in the form of glucose and takes the amino acids from the food digested by converting them into fatty acids. When in case of an emergency like starvation or lack of available running fuel, the glucose, the liver comes to our rescue by switching gears and converting the fatty acids into another form of energy called ketones. Isn’t that an amazing organ then? It has an amazing power of self healing or even regeneration within a short span, like in case of injuries, even so much that a small part of liver if removed from one’s body for organ donation to someone in need, it can regenerate to the original size soon enough. It has the ability to process the drugs/medicines when required through the enzymes or chemicals to work on our body and at the same time also quickly after the drugs are broken down and used, the liver can also then deactivate the same drugs and help in excreting them from our body through urine or stools. In addition, the liver is the first nutrient processing centre where nutrients like sugars, amino acids, glycerol, salt, vitamins and minerals pass through, and converts them into their useable for, stores most of them like iron, folate, vitamins A,D and B12 to be delivered where ever the body requires. The liver therefore also acts as a detox centre, where the waste by products or toxins after use is filtered out. Besides this, it also filters out those found in alcohol, heavy metals by converting them into harmless waste to be got rid of. The liver also acts as a security gate, due to its ability to filter out all the toxins, and can trap the virus and harmful bacteria and any other unwanted germs which may encroach in via the food we eat. This is because it has the largest army of immune system that destroy or actually eat the germs (also called phagocytes), and can launch an offensive immune reaction when needed.

Can Liver damage be prevented ?

Isn’t it then our great responsibility to protect this vital organ from any external stress, trauma or abuse, so that it can continue to perform nonstop till our last breath? Well of course yes and how can we do that? It’s very simple and easy, provided we maintain certain decorum with this strong yet very vulnerable organ in our body and that is by taking care of it. Apart from certain external infections or pathological conditions, which may be beyond our control, there are many environmental factors which can help keep our liver healthy and happy.


How can we prevent liver damage?

– Avoiding sugars and sweetened beverages:

Sugar in the form of simple pure sugars or as fructose found in fruit juices can make excess fat leading to accumulation of excess fatty acids which can lead to fatty liver. Research also points out that sugar can be as damaging as alcohol for the liver even without consuming alcohol. But the good news is that this fatty liver is completely reversible with removal of sugars from the diet. Hence keeping away from foods containing added sugars, like pastries, cookies, aerated drinks or any foods containing fructose corn syrup, glucose, in any form will keep your liver hale and happy.

– Burden of Excess body weight:

Excessive build up of fat in the liver cells can lead to swelling or an enlarged liver, a condition called non alcoholic fatty liver disease(NAFLD), now also being termed as metabolic associated fatty liver disease (MAFLD). Shedding off those extra kilos or prevention of fat build up works best for good liver health.

– Herbal Supplements:

The term ‘herbal’ may sound to be ‘natural’, but that can e misleading. Some of the herbal preparations even though of plant origin, may contain alkaloids, the type of compounds which when deposited in the liver can cause liver damage leading to hepatitis or blockage of the liver ducts which can be quite complicated.

– Alcohol:

Excessive use of alcohol can lead to increased risk of jaundice, cirrhosis, liver failure and even liver cancer which may become irreversible after appoint. Hence staying away or judicious use in permitted amounts would be a good way to have a healthy liver.

– Vitamin and other Supplements:

Vitamin A is essential for many body functions, however excess dosages in the form of oral supplements may cause liver damage. Therefore resorting to dietary sources or using them if required, under medical supervision is a safer bet.

– Drug Abuse:

Undue and prolonged unsupervised consumption of over the counter drugs like pain killers etc can also damage the liver, since at the end all the toxic by products of the drugs are passed through the liver and if we stretch its capacity beyond a certain point, that can lead to collapse of the liver functions.