Health Benefits of Fruit and Vegetables
- Vegetables and fruits are an important part of a healthy diet, and variety is as important as quantity.
- No single fruit or vegetable provides all of the nutrients you need to be healthy. Eat plenty every day.
A diet rich in vegetables and fruits can lower blood pressure, reduce the risk of heart disease and stroke, prevent some types of cancer, lower risk of eye and digestive problems, and have a positive effect upon blood sugar, which can help keep appetite in check. Eating non-starchy vegetables and fruits like apples, pears, and green leafy vegetables may even promote weight loss. Their low glycemic loads prevent blood sugar spikes that can increase hunger.
At least nine different families of fruits and vegetables exist, each with potentially hundreds of different plant compounds that are beneficial to health. Eat a variety of types and colors of produce in order to give your body the mix of nutrients it needs. This not only ensures a greater diversity of beneficial plant chemicals but also creates eye-appealing meals.
Tips to eat more vegetables and fruits each day
1. Keep fruit where you can see it. Place several ready-to-eat washed whole fruits in a bowl or store chopped colorful fruits in a glass bowl in the refrigerator to tempt a sweet tooth.
2. Explore the produce aisle and choose something new. Variety and color are key to a healthy diet. On most days, try to get at least one serving from each of the following categories: dark green leafy vegetables; yellow or orange fruits and vegetables; red fruits and vegetables; legumes (beans) an and citrus fruits.
3. Skip the potatoes. Choose other vegetables that are packed with different nutrients and more slowly digested carbohydrates.
4. Make it a meal. Try cooking new recipes that include more vegetables. Salads, soups, and stir-fries are just a few ideas for increasing the number of tasty vegetables in your meals.
Different Ways of Consuming Vegetables
Salads are a fresh and healthy way to enjoy your greens, but be mindful about the amount of dressing you use, and aim for the non-fat or low-fat variety. It is interesting, however, to note that oil-soluble vitamins such as carotenoids and Vitamin K are best absorbed with some dietary fat. A few drops of olive oil or canola oil in your salad will therefore aid in your body’s absorption of these nutrients, as well as make it taste better.
Besides eating vegetables raw, cooking your veggies can also bring on added benefits. Studies have shown that the process of cooking helps to break down tough outer layers and the cellular structure of many vegetables, making it easier for your body to absorb the nutrients.
As a rule of thumb, the lesser the exposure to high heat and water, the better for veggies to retain their nutrients. Microwaving, steaming and sautéing are generally safe bets for cooking your vegetables. Blanching (placing your vegetables into boiling water briefly) is another good option. Remember not to boil your vegetables for too long as water soluble vitamins such as Vitamin C, B1 and folate can leach into the water. The exception to this rule is carrots, which display increased levels of beta carotene after boiling.