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Ask the Expert: Is it True that We are Advised to Eat Fruits Before Meals?

Malaysian Dietitians' Association member and practising dietitian Durral Ramli explains whether eating fruits before meals is beneficial to your health.

Question:

Is it true that we are advised to eat fruits before meals, especially lunch and dinner? Why and how does this work?

Answer:

There is no science indicating the best timing to consume fruit. Nevertheless, increasing the consumption of fruits and vegetables has been shown to positively impact weight management, especially when fruits and vegetables are consumed to replace energy-dense food.

Eat Fruits Before Meals to Help with Weight Loss

In my practice, advice on consuming fruit prior to main meal is usually given to people who want to lose weight. This is because fruits generally are high in water and fiber but low in energy and carbohydrate content. Let’s compare foods in the same volume. For example, cooked rice and red apples. 100g of cooked white rice gives you 360 kcal and 79g of carbohydrates, while 100g of red apples packs a mere 54kcal and 14g of carbohydrate. The same volume of food provides a big difference in their energy and carbohydrate content.

Because of this, when fruit is consume prior to main meals, it would take up the space in the stomach and thus help to curb your appetite and limit your food/energy intake later on. On the other hand, fruit is also a good dessert to end a meal. Instead of choosing energy-dense desserts with little nutrients, fruits are a healthier alternative. In addition, the natural sweetness of fruit is able to satisfy one’s sweet tooth.

Always Eat Your Fruits and Veggies

The important message here is to consume more colourful fruits (and vegetables) everyday regardless of the timing. The Malaysian Dietary Guidelines recommend at least 2 servings of fruit daily for general health. In fact the benefit on health is even greater if you can include 10 servings of colourful fruits and vegetables in your daily diet. Hence, try your best to hit the recommended number of servings. If you find that incorporating fruits before your main meal is the best way to increase your fruits consumption on a daily basis, by all means, continue doing it.

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Ask the Expert is where we answer questions on all aspects of your health and wellness. Send in your health-related questions to expert@healthworks.my.

 

Contributed by: Durral Ramli, sports dietitian for the National Sports Institute of Malaysia and member of the Malaysian Dietitians’ Association; part of the HealthWorks Expert Network.
Durrah Ramli is a sports dietitian for the National Sports Institute of Malaysia and a member of the Malaysian Dietitians' Association. She is also a certified Metabolic Precision Level 1 Transformation Specialist - a science-based, systemized approach to body transformation.

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