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Summer Fruits

Strawberries are loaded with polyphenols and flavonoid compounds that have antioxidant properties and have been associated with reduced risk of many chronic diseases

Rohini Diniz

 

Watermelon (kaling or tarbuz): Come summer and the markets are flooded with lush red watermelons. Watermelons are large fruits that consist of a bottle green or stripped light-green coloured hard outer rind that surrounds a fleshy white rind and an inner juicy reddish-pink pulp with large black seeds embedded towards the centre. The white rind is edible and is the richest known dietary source of the amino acid citrulline, which gets converted into the essential amino acid arginine within the body. Both citrulline and arginine play an important role in the synthesis of nitric oxide (NO), which helps to lower blood pressure by dilating and relaxing our blood vessels. The white rind can be cooked into a delicious vegetable or can be used to prepare pancakes such as the kalinganapollo, a traditional dosa from the Karwar region of Karnataka. Watermelon pulp consists of 95 per cent water which helps hydrate the body especially during summer. It also contains carbohydrates in the form of simple sugars – glucose, fructose and sucrose, but has a low caloric value on account of the high-water content. Watermelons are also a fairly good source of vitamin C and contain small amounts of other vitamins and minerals. The fruit contains the carotenoid lycopene which has antioxidant properties. Watermelons are best enjoyed as freshly cut slices. The pulp can chopped into salads or squeezed into juices or frozen into sorbets, granitas and ice-dollies.

Muskmelon: This is another water-rich summer fruit. Apart from the muskmelon variety known as chibud in Konkani which is available in Goan markets during the monsoons, other varieties such as honeydew and cantaloupe are available during summer. Muskmelons differ from watermelons as they are smaller in size and have a sweet musk-like taste. The cantaloupe variety has a greyish netted outer rind that surrounds a soft peach-coloured pulp while the honeydew variety has a smooth light creamy-green rind that surrounds a soft cream-coloured pulp. The chibud variety is medium to large in size and oblong in shape unlike the honeydew and cantalope which are round. This melon consists of a thin, smooth outer peel with grey-green stripes that run the length of the fruit. The pulp of the chibud melon is pale-peach in colour with a slight orange tint around the collection of seeds in the centre of the fruit. The pulp of the fruit is sweet with a tender juicy texture and musky aroma when ripe. Muskmelons are water-rich, low-calorie fruits. The cantaloupe and chibud varieties are excellent sources of vitamin C and beta-carotene while the honeydew variety is a good source of vitamin C, potassium and folic acid. Musk melons can be eaten as slices or cubes. The pulp can also be made into delicious smoothies, milkshakes or even lassi.

Strawberry: Strawberries are fiery red, juicy, conical shaped fruits that are prized for their characteristic aroma and sweet flavours. The fruit is consumed fresh or as ingredients in salads, ice creams, milkshakes, smoothies, yoghurts, chocolates and other desserts. Strawberry juice is used in the preparation of cocktails and mocktails. Strawberries have a high water content and are low in calories. They are an excellent source of vitamin C and manganese and contain fair amounts of folic acid, potassium and fibre. Strawberries are loaded with polyphenols and flavonoid compounds that have antioxidant properties and have been associated with reduced risk of many chronic diseases.

Mulberry: Mulberries are small fruits that are dark purple or black in colour and have a sweet, tarty flavour. The fruit is eaten raw and is used to prepare jams, squashes, pies, etc. Mulberries are also dried to make a crunchy, delicious and nutritious snack. Fresh mulberries contain carbohydrates mostly simple sugars such as glucose and fructose and are good sources of vitamin C and iron. They also contain potassium, vitamins E and K and are rich in anthocyanin pigments that contribute to their colour and have beneficial effects on health such as reducing the risk of heart disease and

cancers.

Litchi: Litchi is another fruit that is available during summer. These are small oval shaped fruits that consist of a hard seed which is surrounded by a whitish, juicy pulp with a sweet, tarty flavour and very enticing floral fragrance covered with a pinkish red rough texture outer peel. Litchis are a good source of vitamin C, copper and potassium. Recent studies have shown that litchis have a protective effect against breast cancer. Litchis taste best when eaten fresh.

To be continued. . .

(The writer is a Consultant Nutritionist with 20 years of experience, practising at Panaji and can be contacted on rohinidiniz@gmail.com)

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