This headline might strike some as odd. Fruit is a fairly common staple of a healthy diet, and plays a role in all kinds of popular meals and recipes. Hopefully, you eat a decent amount of fruit on a regular basis and you don’t actually feel a need to “bring it back.” As a self-proclaimed keen observer of food trends, however (I correctly predicted people would turn on kale in 2017), I’ve noticed a few things eating away at our perception of fruit as serious health food.
The first thing was a very sad story. When Apple CEO Steve Jobs passed away after a battle with pancreatic cancer, there was a lot of focus on his “fruitarian” diet, which most any medical professional would describe as unhealthy, and which some believed contributed directly to Jobs’s death. Supporting this theory was the fact that actor Ashton Kutcher, who briefly adopted the diet while portraying Jobs in a film, ended up in the hospital. Among other issues, Kutcher described his “pancreas levels” as being “completely out of whack.” These were very high profile stories and, I suspect, led people to begin to think of fruit as less healthy than we’d always thought.
The second thing was far sillier. It was a mobile game – a simple, ridiculous, and wildly popular little experience called “Fruit Ninja” that you’ve probably heard of. Fruit Ninja is a game in which pieces of fruit are dropped and tossed across your screen, with your only job being to swipe your finger across said screen as a means of chopping the fruit up. Really, this shouldn’t have any profound psychological effect on people’s perception of fruit as part of a healthy diet. That said, I can’t help but think that its status for a couple of years as one of the most popular mobile games on the planet at least made fruit seem a little cartoonish – like when actual cartoon characters slip on banana peels or eat apples with worms in them.
The second thing made me think of the third thing, which is that fruit has actually been popular as an element of gaming for a really long time, and some of the vintage examples are returning in full force. I’m talking specifically about fruits appearing as icons on slot machine reels – which are now popular all over again via online and mobile gaming options. Numerous arcade slots now effectively use fruits as characters (rather than just symbols). A title called “Fruity Flurry” has been mentioned as one of the leading mobile scratch cards. Other games even combine casino concepts with the joys of Fruit Ninja, such that the goal is to see fruits smashed. Again, this shouldn’t have a huge effect, but it plays into the idea that fruit is silly.
Add up these factors and fruit can seem sad, cartoonish, unhealthy, or old school, if not all at the same time. For this reason I feel that fruit needs to be “brought back” in 2018, or at least that people need to be reminded that it’s an extraordinarily healthy sort of food to include in your diet, so long as you don’t go overboard.
We won’t get into all the benefits here because different fruits have different perks, but broadly speaking, fruits are some of our best sources of vitamins, dietary fiber (which is good for weight loss, boys and girls), potassium, and folic acids. They can fill us up without cholesterol, sodium, fat, or very many calories, and many of them, through high antioxidant content, can help us to avoid chronic diseases and poor heart health. Frankly, it’s understandable when you read about the health benefits of fruits that some people would want to try eating almost nothing else. This is not actually a good idea, but the point is fruits should absolutely be incorporated into a healthy diet.
So this year, make an effort to take fruit seriously and to realize its benefits. Sprinkle berries into a salad, slice up fruits to put in a smoothie, grab an apple with breakfast or substitute more berries for dessert. On top of being healthy, these foods are easy to eat more of, and almost always enjoyable!
Photocredit: tropical banana balloon | Ametrine – Resort 2015 | Pinterest | Resort 2015