Fruits are powerhouses of nutrition and they provide our body with a wide range of vitamins, minerals and other nutrients that are essential for a healthy body. They also find a number of uses in cooking and you can get extremely creative with fruits to include them in dishes both savoury and sweet. But, there are a lot of questions that plague our minds about healthy practices related to consumption of fruits. For example, whether it is healthier to eat raw fruits rather than having fruit juices, or whether we should eat fruits first thing in the morning or at night. One such question related to fruit consumption is that a lot of people are confused about is whether it is okay to consume fruits with meals or not. There are some conflicting schools of thought about the same.
In some Indian homes, it's common practice to eat one portion of fruits during lunchtime, with the meal. Usually, we Indians tend to eat whatever is in season, after our afternoon meal. It's a way to satiate our sweet tooth and also tuck in some nutrients at the same time. During the summers, for example, a lot of lunchtime meals include a few pieces of mango. But, is it healthy or should this practice be discontinued? According to clinical nutritionist Dr. Rupali Dutta, eating fruits with your meal is completely alright. "According to allopathy, there is no contra-indication to the habit of eating fruits with meals," she says, adding that a lot of these doubts about consumption of fruits with meals may come from individual and anecdotal experiences.
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"There may be some people who experience digestive stress or bloating (when they eat fruits with meals)," says Dr. Dutta, concluding that if one doesn't experience any such discomfort, then the practice may by all means be continued. She suggests it may even be healthier for people who have a sweet tooth, as by eating fruits with lunch, they can indulge their sweet tooth without consuming too many extra or harmful calories. However, Dr. Dutta says that fruits should be ideally consumed as mid-meal snacks, ahead of lunch or in the evening, before dinner. "The main purpose of eating fruits as mid-meal snacks is replenishing our body's store of electrolytes," says Dr. Dutta, adding that if you consume your daily fruit portion during lunch, then you may have to forgo the snack.
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However, celebrity acupuncturist and beauty expert Dr. Jewel Gamadia has something else to say. Recently, he said on his Instagram page that one should avoid eating fruits with meals, saying, "It's not a good idea for those who suffer with digestive issues. Every food has a different enzyme to digest. The enzymes needed for a normal meal are very different than those needed for fruits. Hence, it makes a problem for your stomach. So, try having fruit after sometime." What about fruit juices? Dr. Dutta says that it's okay to drink fresh fruit juices with your meals, if you are not restricting your daily calorie-count. Also, as a general rule, it's healthier to consume whole foods rather than juicing them.
Although there is no absolute rule that says that you shouldn't eat fruits with your meals, you may avoid doing it if you are prone to digestive stress. However, according to mainstream medicine, eating fruits with meals will in not disturb your digestive system at all or have any other adverse impact on your health.