It's easy to get answers about health and nutrition! Just send your question by email to firstname.lastname@example.org and Dr. Harlan will respond to selected questions of general interest. Answers will be posted in the Ask Dr. Gourmet newsletter (sign up now!) and archived in the Ask Dr. Gourmet section of the website.
I have read so much conflicting information about eating fruit before and after meals. I've read that I shouldn't eat fruit 30 minutes before or after a meal, and another article that said I should wait up to 6 hours! What do you recommend? Also, I recently read an article that recommended avoiding bananas and raisins while on a low calorie diet since they are high in calories. Is this true?
What we do know is that eating fruit helps people lose weight. There are numerous studies that support this. For instance, in one study women who ate three apples or pears per day lost weight. In another study participants eating grapefruit 30 minutes before meals had an easier time losing weight.
The ideas of timing of fruit (as well as a lot of other ingredients) in weight loss are myths (follow the links for details). I am not sure how these old wives' tales get started, but there's no science to support these concepts. Eating fruit is a great way to be healthier and lose weight, no matter what the timing of your meals are. When analyzing the research, this appears to be because the fruit is much less calorie dense than other foods and much more satisfying.
Bananas and raisins are no more "high in calories" than any other fruit. Here are some calorie counts to compare:
1 medium banana: 105 calories, 3 grams fiber
1 ounce raisins: 85 calories, 1 gram fiber
1 medium apple: 95 calories, 4 grams fiber
1 medium pear: 103 calories, 5.5 grams fiber!
1 medium orange: 62 calories, 3 grams fiber
1 medium peach: 58 calories, 2 grams fiber
Snack on fruit any time. Pick your favorite and enjoy!
Thanks for writing,
Timothy S. Harlan M.D.