Five Plus a Day

Five plus a day? Yes, you can add fruit to your horse’s diet

Last Updated on April 5, 2022 by Allison Price

During the winter and fall, bananas and apples were the most common fruits in grocery stores. You can now find many off-season fruits thanks to imports from warmer climates. This variety is also beneficial for horses. Even though carrots and apples are still good choices, don’t limit your horse to these.

Your horse eats the exact same food every day. Boring? Yes. It’s definitely unbalanced. He doesn’t likely have acres of unimproved terrain to explore. In a wild setting where he could eat fruits from vines or trees, it is unlikely. Horse owners have the responsibility of providing additional nutrients through fresh food to supplement their horse’s ho-hum diets. There are many whole food supplements available, some of them very good. Why not use the real thing? The taste of fruit is much better than the processed version and it’s full of valuable nutrients and antioxidants that can make a big difference in your horse’s overall health.(c) Scott Bauer, USDA ARS

Flavonoids can be potent antioxidants

Flavonoids, which are antioxidants found in dark blue and red fruits such as strawberries, blueberries and blackberries, as well as anthocyanidins and epicatechins, belong to the group of antioxidants called flavonoids. These flavonoids give fruit their color. The more they have, the greater the antioxidant-power. Resveratrol is also found in red grapes, which has been popularized as an antioxidant supplement for horses. Dark chocolate contains resveratrol too, which is good for you but not for your horse.

Unsurprisingly, bananas are high in anthocyanidins. Citrus fruits like oranges, grapefruits and lemons are well-known for their vitamin C content. However, they also have significant amounts of flavonoids, such as quercetin and hesperidin. These flavonoids work together with vitamin C to increase antioxidant activity. Lycopene is another biologically active flavonoid. It gives watermelon, papaya and mangos a red hue. It is important to note that tomatoes, which are high in lycopene are extremely toxic for horses.

Five Plus a Day

Beta carotene, a flavonoid, gives orange color to carrots, papayas and mangos, cantaloupes, nectarines, nectarines and cantaloupes. It is an antioxidant that is also a precursor for vitamin A in your horse’s system.

Also, fruits are a good source of vitamins. Particularly concentrated in calcium, zinc and potassium are dried fruits like dates and figs. They are also rich in vitamin B vitamins, beta-carotene and vitamin K.

Fruits complete the diet, beyond traditional supplements

Concentrated supplements can provide many of the same nutrients as fruits. It is difficult, if it is not impossible, to extract the whole essence of a plant from a commercial product. You can give your horse trace nutrients by feeding whole foods. This will nourish him in a way that is not possible with a commercial product. However, concentrated supplements are required to fill in nutritional gaps caused by hay-based diets. To meet this need, you will have to feed your horse a ridiculously large number of fruits and other whole foods. To round out the diet, should include fruits. However, it is not necessary to provide all your horse’s nutritional needs.Bananas are a favorite of horses. (c) ProjectManhattan (Own Work) [CC0], via Wikimedia commonsCommon fruits have high sugar content

A significant amount of sugar is found in fruits. This article may not be suitable for insulin-resistant horses. You will need to reduce their sugar and starch intake but there is still room for fresh fruit. Moderation is key, along with evaluating the amount of sugar in your horse’s entire diet.

Bananas are a favorite flavor of horses. They also love watermelon and blueberries. This chart will give you an idea about how much sugar these fruits contain.

FruitGrams sugar
Apple, the one medium13
Apricots, one (no pit!)3
Banana, one 7-inch14
1 cup of blackberries7
Blueberries (one cup)15
Cantaloupe, 1/8 small melon4
One 8-inch carrot3
Cherries, 6 (no pits)6
Three dates, no pits12
One small amount of figs7
Grapes (red, green), 10 Grapes8
Honeydew melon, 1/8 7″ melon13
Mango, half fruit (without pit).15
1 small Nectarines (without pit).10
Orange, one medium15
One small amount of papaya (remove seeds).9
Peaches, 2 3/4 inches (no pit)15
Pears, one medium17
Plums, one medium (remove pit).7
Raspberries (1 Cup)5
Tangerines, 2 1/2 inch9
Strawberries, 3 medium3
One wedge of watermelon28

Some peels can be worth eating

You can feed your horse the skin instead of the whole fruit. This is a wonderful way to give your horse something delicious and nutritious. Sliced apple, banana, and orange peels as well as watermelon skins have less than one gram of sugar per cup. Apple peels have a lot of benefits. They contain an ingredient called “ursolic acids”, which has been proven to increase muscle growth, carbohydrate metabolism and reduce body fat in laboratory animals. Avoid tropical fruit peels like papayas and mangos as they can cause skin irritation.

This is a comparison with the rest of

You should aim to reduce your horse’s sugar intake by feeding less than 10% simple sugars and starch. The simple sugar content of your horse’s hay or pasture will be determined if it has been analyzed.

Let’s suppose your grass hay has 7.10% ESC, and 1.80% starch. It’s 8.90%, which is excellent! This would make a great hay for your horse to give as a free choice.

Your horse will consume 25 lbs of this hay per day, which equals 2.225 lbs of ESC+ starch (25 lbs X.0890). Multiply that number by 454, and your horse will have 1010.15 grams sugar and starch. You’ll also be giving your horse 7 grams of sugar if you give him a cup of blackberries each day. This will bring the total sugar/starch intake up to 1017.15g per day or 8.96%. This is not a significant difference.

There is one caveat. It’s better to spread the fruit out over the day than to feed it all at once. The blood glucose level will rise if you give too much sugar at once.

Bottom line

The abundance of vitamins, minerals and antioxidants found in fruits makes them an excellent addition to horse’s diet. Even if your horse needs a low-sugar and starch diet, you can safely include moderate amounts of fresh fruit in it. This will be a pleasant experience for your horse and will provide additional nutrients that are not likely to exist in your current diet.

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