1920s: Fruits Essential For Health

Rainbow Fruit Cake

While fruits were formerly eaten just because of their flavor, since the 1920s fruits are considered essential in the daily diet. They’re important for the overall health and a clear skin. ‘The food value of most fruits is not high, but the mineral salts [and water] they contain are necessary to good health.’ If the fruits are eaten raw, they should be neither over- nor underripe to digest them properly. If possible, raw fruits should be preferred, except by persons who can’t digest them raw. Don’t serve raw acidic fruits ‘in combination with starchy foods, as this frequently causes indigestion.’

Overripe fruits shouldn’t be eaten, while underripe ones may be cooked before eating. The  ‘liquid in which the fruit is cooked […] must be served with the fruit, or much of its value is lost. Many of the valuable mineral salts are found just beneath the skin, so these should be retained as far as possible.’ Fruit salats, for example served as an appetizer for dinner, may contain raw as well as cooked fruits. ‘The addition of sugar to cooked fruit greatly increases its nutritive value and cooking sugar at a high temperature in conjunction with the acid of the fruit brings about the inversion of the sugar, which is one of the first steps in its digestion. For this reason jams, marmalades, and preserves are considered one of the most wholesome ways in which sugar may be eaten.’

Prunes, figs, dates, raisins, and bananas have a higher food value than other fruits. […] Bananas are largely starch, and for this reason should be perfectly ripe or cooked before eating. All children are especially fond of bananas, but it is much safer to bake this fruit than to allow them to eat it raw, for it is usually sold under-ripe.’ The skin of a ripe banana ‘has become dark and the pulp dry and mealy.’

‘Most children naturally crave fruit, and this desire should be gratified and not considered an indulgence. […] Even babies, after three months old, are given small quantities of orange or prune juice, gradually increasing the amount as the child grows older. Fruit beverages offer an opportunity to introduce acids and salts into the system. […] Do not serve too sweet, or they will not quench the thirst.’

Dried fruits should be […] soaked in water to cover for several hours, in order to regain the moisture which has been evaporated. They should be cooked in the liquid in which they were soaked, heating very slowly and keeping under the boiling point until tender. The slow cooking develops the natural fruit sugars.’

‘If the family does not care for fruits between meals, which is really one of the best times to eat them, see that fruit in some form is furnished for at least one meal a day, for it is a necessary part of the daily diet. Do not consider fruit an extravagance and an accessory. If we are to have healthy bodies, fruit is an essential, and although its actual food value, if fresh, is not high, its health-giving properties are a necessity.’



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