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July 2014
Dietetics
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FOODS AND THEIR PROPERTIES

FOODS AND THEIR PROPERTIES

THE BENEFICIAL PROPERTIES OF ORANGE

The citrus aurantium, or orange tree, is a fruit tree that is part of the citrus genus (rutaceae family) and its fruits are called oranges. It can grow up to 10m tall and is characterised by long and thick leaves and splendid white flowers. The sprouts of the orange tree are always green and its fruits are made up of fairly big berries, also known as hesperidia.

THE BENEFICIAL PROPERTIES OF POMEGRANATE

A pomegranate, which is the fruit of the pomegranate tree, is a shrub called punica granatum and it has long and short, green leaves which can grow to 4m long.

THE BENEFICIAL PROPERTIES OF TEA

Tea is the most common drink, after water, found all over the world and it has a slightly bitter taste but is very enjoyable. Tea comes from the leaves of a particular plant called ‘Camelia Sinensis’, an evergreen, branchy shrub that can grow up to 2 m in height.

THE BENEFICIAL PROPERTIES OF CUCUMBER

Cucumber is the fruit of the cucumber plant, a plant that has quite long stems and leaves that grow around the trunk. The fruit is long (20-30 cm in length), the dark green skin is covered in bumps and the flesh is light green with white, watery seeds that have a bitter flavour.

THE BENEFICIAL PROPERTIES OF TOMATOES

Tomatoes originate from South America and are a well known vegetable, used in many countries and they are particularly appreciated for their health properties. In Chile and Ecuador in particular, the tomato plant is wild and, thanks to the tropical climate, it provides fruit all year round, whilst in Europe, if it is cultivated outside, it has a seasonal cycle and only provides fruit in the summer. In the 16th century, the Spanish raised awareness of this plant in Europe but it was only known in the pre-Columbian period as a decoration.

THE BENEFICIAL PROPERTIES OF PUMPKINS

Pumpkin is not only used in cooking but also in cosmetics, medicine and even as a container and utensil. Pumpkins originate from central America and the oldest pumpkin seeds ever found were discovered in Mexico and dated back to 7000-6000 B.C. In North America, pumpkin was a staple food for the Indians and the first colonies learnt how to grow them from these native populations.

THE BENEFICIAL PROPERTIES OF APPLES

Apples, which are very tasty fruits, are very well known throughout the world because they have a strong symbolic worth, as well as having been passed down in different stories in the Bible and in mythology. Apples come from the rosaceae family (malus communis melo) and apple trees can grow up to 8m tall. They originate from central Asia and date back to Neolithic times and today there around 2,000 different varieties of apples.

THE BENEFICIAL PROPERTIES OF KIWIS

This fruit is loved by the old and the young, it has many beneficial properties and is very good for our health. Kiwis contain a very high content of vitamin C, even more than lemons, oranges and peppers.

THE BENEFICIAL PROPERTIES OF HONEY

Honey, which has been used for thousands of years, was considered the ‘food of the Gods’ and ancient populations took advantage of the numerous properties that honey has; they used it in cosmetics (as a cream together with clay, water and citrus leaves) and a lot in cooking.

THE BENEFICIAL PROPERTIES OF BLUEBERRIES

Blueberries (vaccinium myrtillus) are a typical fruit of the undergrowth, have always been part of very old traditions and are used to treat various illnesses. They usually grow in mountainous regions (the Alps and Apennines, for example) and in forests and are normally spread over areas that are rich in humus.

THE BENEFICIAL PROPERTIES OF MANDARINS

Mandarins (Citrus reticulate) come from the rutaceae family (citrus family, along with cedar and grapefruit) and they grow on mandarin trees. Of the three members of the citrus genus, it is the only sweet fruit. The plant is usually about 2m tall but some varieties can even reach 4m.

THE BENEFICIAL PROPERTIES OF MELON

Cucumis melo, better known as melon, is an angiosperm from the cucurbitaceae family. The plant, which originates from the Caucasus area, is generally cultivated in countries with mild climates and its fruits are sweet and flavoursome.

THE BENEFICIAL PROPERTIES OF STRAWBERRIES

Strawberries were born in France and they have very old origins, indeed the first variety to be cultivated dates back to the 7th Century. This fruit is characterised by a strong fragrance, a sweet flavour and an intense red colour. Strawberries also have green stems covered by a small amount of leaves and the surface of the berries is covered in lots of little, yellow dots.

THE BENEFICIAL PROPERTIES OF BANANA

The banana, one of the most consumed foods in the world, is the fruit of the banana tree from the Musa genus. The fruit is long and grows in bunches that can weigh up to 50kg. The outer peel is quite hard and is a yellow-green colour (this varies according to ripeness). The edible part of a banana is the pulp which is off-white and fairly sweet.

THE BENEFICIAL PROPERTIES OF BROCCOLI

Broccoli, which is mostly cultivated in Europe, comes from the cruciferae family. The edible parts of the plants from this family are both the leaves (for example, green cabbage, savoy cabbage, Chinese cabbage, sea kale, black cabbage, Brussels sprouts) and the stalk (in the case of broccoli, broccoletti and cauliflower). Broccoli is loved by many because, as well as being tasty and enjoyable, it has very few calories.

THE BENEFICIAL PROPERTIES OF ONION

Onions come from the alliaceae family and are cultivated all over the world. They are one of the oldest and most aromatic foods that we can cook with and they are full of therapeutic properties.

THE BENEFICIAL PROPERTIES OF LENTILS

Rich in fibre, vitamins and minerals, lentils have long been considered ‘the meat of the poor’. They are pulses from the papilionaceae family and they have been being eaten for centuries. Some studies conducted on fossils say that lentils are the oldest pulse ever to be cultivated by humans.

THE BENEFICIAL PROPERTIES OF MILK

Milk is one of the most nutritious and complete foods we have and its numerous properties have been known since ancient times. It is consumed in large quantities by people of all ages, particularly athletes, as it is a good thirst-quencher, thanks to its high water content, and it is especially recommended for young children and the elderly.

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