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If fruit is the best food, what is the best fruit for your health? Every fruit has its own unique composition. Apples are different from berries and kiwis from pears. That is why they taste different, and their vitamin content is also different. And seeing as we need a lot of different kinds of vitamins, it’s a good idea to eat different kinds of fruit in sufficient quantities. Belgian fruit is among the best in the world. The rule of 5 portions per day is correct. When you eat different kinds of fruits, you are sure to get sufficient vitamins. You also get enough of the other building blocks. It is therefore not possible to say what the ‘best fruit’ is. The fact that fruit is the best food is still true, though.

Professor Jaak Janssens
Cancer specialist, chairman of the European Cancer-prevention Organisation

We need antioxidants to protect us against free radicals. 

Oxidation stress is described as an abnormally high production of poisonous oxygen derivatives (which the infamous ‘free radicals' are part of) that attack an extensive network of molecules that have antioxidant capacity and control that production. Oxidation stress is responsible for the oxidation of different important biological substrates, such as fats, lipoproteins, DNA and proteins. The oxidizing changes that are caused in the various molecules may be responsible for the development of some diseases, such as atherosclerosis, cardiovascular and neuro-degenerative diseases, rheumatoid arthritis, diabetes, macular degeneration,… There are several situations that can lead to oxidation stress in the organism: smoking, medication (e.g. the pill), excessive alcohol consumption, excessive exposure to the sun, natural aging, intense and repeated physical exercise, hyperglycaemia, metabolic syndrome, and obesity.

To protect itself against those diseases, our organism uses various antioxidant defence substances including proteins, enzymes, vitamins, carotenoids, flavonoids, and minerals. Scientific research has shown that the fewer antioxidants someone has, the greater the chance that (s)he will develop one of the illnesses listed above.

Most antioxidants are ingested via fruit and vegetables (at least 5 portions a day). The more colourful your plate is, the greater and more diversified the range of antioxidants that you take in.

Dr J. Pincemail
Doctor of biomedical sciences with the CHU Liège