Fruits and Vegetables – High in Nutrients, Low in Calories
- 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.
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 colours 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
- Keep fruit where you can see it. Place several ready-to-eat washed whole fruits in a bowl or store chopped colourful fruits in a glass bowl in the refrigerator to tempt a sweet tooth.
- Explore the produce aisle and choose something new. Variety and colour 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) and peas; and citrus fruits.
- Skip the potatoes. Choose other vegetables that are packed with different nutrients and more slowly digested carbohydrates.
- 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.
Fruit and vegetable serving suggestions for your family’s health
Vegetables and fruit are a handy snack food and are easily carried to work or school. Include them in everyone’s meals and snacks for a healthy, well-balanced diet. Some suggestions include:
- Keep snack-size fruit and vegetable portions easily accessible in your fridge.
- Keep fresh fruit on the bench or table.
- Add fruit and vegetables to your favourite family recipes or as additions to your usual menus.
- Use the colour and texture of a variety of fruit and vegetables to add interest to your meals.
- Think up new ways to serve fruits and vegetables.
Some simple ways to serve fruits and vegetables include:
- fruit and vegetable salads
- vegetable or meat-and-vegetable stir-fries
- raw fruit and vegetables
- vegetable soups
- snack pack, stewed or canned fruits or dried fruits.
Limit fruit juice, as it does not contain the same amount of nutrients as fresh fruit. It also contains a lot of sugars. These sugars are not necessarily good for your health, even though they are ‘natural’. Instead, have a drink of water and a serve of fruit.
Preparation and cooking of fruit and vegetables
Vegetables are often cooked, although some kinds 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 mono-unsaturated oils.
- Do not overcook, to reduce nutrient loss.
- Serve meals with vegetable pesto’s, 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.