Nowadays everyone is concerned about being healthy. Fruits and vegetables must form an unavoidable part of our diet. People who eat more fruits and vegetables are likely to reduce risk of some chronic illness and provide vital nutrients for health and maintenance of the body.
Fruit is defined as edible part of a plant that consists of seeds and surrounding tissues, while vegetables are plant cultivated for their edible parts
Fruit and vegetables are important source of important phytochemicals that functions as antioxidants and anti-inflammatory agents and other protective mechanism.
Types of Fruits and Vegetables
There are different varieties of fruits and vegetables, they include
There are so many types of fruits, Common fruits readily available:
– Apples, peach and lychee
– Citrus: Oranges, grapefruit, tangerine, lemon and limes
– Stone fruit: nectarines, apricots, peaches, plums and avocados
– Tropical and exotic – bananas and mangoes, pawpaw, passion fruit and durian
– Berries – strawberries, raspberries, blueberries, blackberry and gooseberry
– Melons – watermelons, rock melons and honeydew.
Vegetables are available in many varieties and can be classified into biological groups or ‘families’
– Leafy green – lettuce, spinach and silver beet.
– Cruciferous – cabbage, cauliflower, Brussels sprouts and broccoli
– Marrow – pumpkin, cucumber, tomatoes, radishes and zucchini
– Root – potato, sweet potato and yam.
– Edible plant stem – celery and asparagus.
– Allium, garlic, ginger and shallot.
Preparation and Cooking of Fruits and Vegetables
Fruits and Vegetables are often cooked, although some are eaten raw. Cooking and processing can damage some nutrients and phytochemicals in plant foods.
Suggestions to get the best out of your fruit and vegetables include:
Eat raw vegetables and fruits if possible.
Try fruit or vegetables pureed into smoothies.
Use a sharp knife to cut fresh fruits to avoid bruising.
Cut off only the inedible parts of vegetables. Sometimes the best nutrients are found in the skin, just below the skin or in the leaves.
Use stir-fry, grill, microwave, bake or steam methods with non-stick cookware and monounsaturated oils.
Do not overcook, to reduce nutrient loss.
Serve meals with vegetable pestos, salsas, chutneys and vinegars in place of sour cream, butter and creamy sauces.
Some nutrients such as carotenoids may actually be increased if food is cooked. For example, tomato has more carotenoids, especially lycopene, when it is cooked, a good reason to prepare fruits and vegetables in a variety of ways.
Once you’ve prepared and cooked your vegetables and fruit, spend some time on presentation.
People are more likely to enjoy a meal if it’s full of variety and visually appealing, as well as tasty. Sit at the table to eat and enjoy your food without distractions like television.
SELECTING FRUITS AND VEGETABLES
To maximise nutrients and appeal, buy and serve different types of fruit and vegetables. Try to buy fruits and vegetables that are in season, and choose for freshness and quality. You should:
Eat with the seasons – this is nature’s way of making sure our bodies get a healthy mix of nutrients and plant chemicals
Try something new – try new recipes and buy new fruit or vegetables as part of your weekly shopping
Let colours guide you – get different combinations of nutrients by putting a ‘rainbow’ of colours (green, white, yellow–orange, blue–purple, red) on your plate.
COLOURS OF FRUITS AND VEGETABLES
You will get the most health benefits and protection against disease if you eat a wide variety of fruits and vegetables. The National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) Australian dietary guidelines recommend that adults eat at least five kinds of vegetable and two kinds of fruit every day.
Foods of similar colours generally contain similar protective compounds. Try to eat a rainbow of colourful fruits and vegetables every day to get the full range of health benefits.
Red foods – like tomatoes and watermelon. These contain lycopene, which is thought to be important for fighting prostate cancer and heart disease
Green vegetables – like cucumber and peas. These contain lutein and zeaxanthin, which may help protect against age-related eye disease
Blue and purple foods – like blueberries and eggplant. These contain anthocyanins, which may help protect the body from cancer
White foods – like garlic and dates. These contain sulforaphane and may also help protect against some cancers.
Why Eat More Fruits and Vegetables
High in Vitamins and Minerals
Fruits and vegetables contain many vitamins and minerals that are good for your health. These include vitamins A (beta-carotene), C and E, magnesium, zinc, phosphorous and folic acid. Folic acid may reduce blood levels of homocysteine, a substance that may be a risk factor for coronary heart disease.
Fruits and Vegetables are Important for Good Health
Fruits and vegetables are low in fat, salt and sugar. They are good source of dietary fibre. As part of a well-balanced, regular diet and a healthy, active lifestyle; a high intake of fruits and vegetables can help you to:
Reduce obesity and maintain a healthy weight
Lower your cholesterol
Lower your blood pressure.
Protection Against Diseases
Vegetables and fruit contain phytochemicals. These biologically active substances can help to protect you from diseases. Scientific research shows that if you regularly eat lots of fruit and vegetables, you have a lower risk of:
– Type 2 diabetes
– Heart (cardiovascular) disease – when fruits and vegetables are eaten as food, not taken as supplements.
– Cancer – some forms of cancer and later in life High blood pressure (hypertension).
Fruits and vegetables contain important vitamins, minerals and plant chemicals.
There are many varieties of fruit and vegetables available and many ways to prepare, cook and serve them.
A diet high in fruit and vegetables can help protect you against cancer, diabetes and heart disease.
Eat at least five kinds of vegetable and two kinds of fruit every day for a better health.
When buying and serving fruit and vegetables, aim for variety to get the most nutrients and appeal.
Fruit and vegetables should be an important part of your daily diet. They are naturally good and contain vitamins and minerals that can help to keep you healthy.