Fruits in Kampala: Too Much of a Good Thing
Kampala residents substituting meals with fruits, despite dangers to health.

Fruits in Kampala: Too Much of a Good Thing

The availability of a variety of cheap fruits in the Ugandan capital, Kampala has forced many especially in the city center to resort to taking fruits in the place of usual food for lunch and supper, a habit that may lead to development ulcers and pressure.

By Alfred Odong
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First published: January 30, 2006

Kampala city has of late been awash with fruits of all types. Every where you turn, you will see people buying or eating jack fruits, pineapples, oranges, mangoes, water melon, sweat bananas, sugar cane, passion fruit, tomatoes and avocado among others.

On any day you visit Kampala, you will witness the buying and selling of fruits in offices, shops, street verandahs, taxi and bus parks. In appreciation of the popularity of fruits the, the business community has gone to all corners of the country for the fruits so as to meet the overwhelming demand for fruits.

In most parts of the city, the fruits are being sold in their natural state (one jack fruit at about 3000/=), pineapple at 1000/=, a cluster of sweet bananas at 500/= or each finger at 100/=.

In offices and shops where eating fruits is increasingly becoming a routine for many people, small containers or polythene bags containing pieces of pineapples, paw paws, sugar cane, water melon, sweet bananas and jack fruit are selling at 500/=. There are even fruit sellers offering a plateful of the fruits at 1000/=.

The business community and people in the formal sector with the urge to save money to meet other financial obligations have taken to the habit of taking fruits for meals at work. Some people especially those without families or dependants admit they buy fruits, which they carry home to eat as supper.

The packaging, delivery and the friendly prices for the fruits is a motivating factor for the city dwellers in neglecting eating the usual food which requires one to move to an eating joint or order from suppliers who in most cases take one to two hours to deliver a plateful of food that costs at least one thousand shillings.

Fruit dealers
Fruit dealers.

Fruits offer many nutritive benefits

Bugiri district nutritionist, Martin Ndifuna says consuming fruits boosts the immune system, provides the body with vitamin D necessary for strengthening the bones and fight cancer.

He says that fruits provide Vitamin E, which is good for the skin and the hair but can only be got after processing the seeds got from the fruits. Also, Pectin found in orange peels, apples, carrots help in reducing glucose levels in diabetic persons.

Vitamin A got from red and yellow palm oil, orange fruits and pumpkins keeps the eyes healthy, prevents infection, helps to keep the lining of the surface of the body healthy i.e. respiratory tract, ear cavity and is also important for body growth and development.

So, for many Kampala dwellers, fruits have come in handy to quench both thirst and hunger especially on a lean budget. Many people can afford a good amount of fruits at 500 shillings. But as the saying goes, too much of anything is always bad.

Over reliance on fruits may be dangerous

Ndifuna however says over reliance on fruits instead of normal food may lead to constant complaints on headaches as a result of an overwhelming demand from the brain and general body for energy supply to support their daily functions.

Dennis Atuha a food-processing expert says while fruits serve the same purpose as the usual food, their nutritive components or concentration differs. He says fruits provide vitamin C and ascorbic acid, which boosts the immune system by strengthening the white blood cells, which fight against pathogenic organisms, which cause diseases.

Atuha warns against eating fruits before eating food because it leads to production of acids like hydrochloric acid which with ascorbic acid from the fruits are meant to act on food but in the absence of food in ones stomach, the acids act on the intestines leaving wounds commonly known as ulcers.

Atuha who is the Production Manager of Busia Meat Parkers says fruits are good for the body since they provide sugars, fructose which is energy giving for the body but may lead to obesity if one takes them in plenty, especially when the person eating plenty of fruits also eats plenty of energy giving foods like posho, cassava, eggs and chapatti.

Obesity, which is a state of being overweight, brings about pressure as the blood vessels spaces get blocked by fat and the affected person develops breathing problems.

Other than eating fresh fruits, many people have also picked to taking packed fruits expecting to benefit from the nutritional values in the fruits. Atuha encourages people to always read the packets of the juices properly to ascertain whether they contain nutrients necessary for the body. He says many juices have no nutrients but have heavy metals/chemicals like aluminum, lead and silver which have a negative impact on ones health and the blood circulation system. So as you enjoy fruits, beware of the amount you consume in order not to compromise your health.

By Alfred Odong
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First published: January 30, 2006
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Alfred Odong is a member of Ultimate Media Consult (U) Ltd with more than five years experience in broadcast and print media.

UGPulse and Ultimate Media Consult do not give medical advice. You should seek that from your doctor.