Fruit and vegetables are a really important food group that should be included at every meal and for snacks too. They taste great, are naturally low in calories, and are full of vitamins, minerals, folate, carotenoids, phytonutrients, antioxidants, fibre and water.
The reason that we should be eating far more fruit and vegetables is that all of the substances above help to prevent disease in humans. This includes heart disease, some cancers and high blood pressure.
Health benefits of fruit and vegetables
As a guide to the benefits of fruit and vegetables in accordance to their colours, go with the following:
- Anything red such as tomatoes and watermelons contain lycopene which can help prostate cancer
- Green vegetables including kale and spinach contain lutein which is good for eye health.
- White foods such as cauliflower include sulforaphane which can protect against some cancers.
- And orange fruits and vegetables contain beta-carotene which is good for eye health and can help cognitive decline.
How to include more fruit & vegatables in your diet
To help you include more fruit and vegetables in your daily diet choose from any of the following; canned, frozen, fresh, dried or juice. This can really help you to get the recommended daily portions.
As an example of how you can ensure you get more fruit and vegetables in your daily diet, consider the following:
- Breakfast have a glass of pure orange juice with your cereal, or a multi-fruit smoothie.
- Mid-morning have an apple as your snack.
- For lunch grab a dessert bowl of salad.
- For dinner time have six tablespoons (two portions) of vegetables such as carrots, peas or broccoli with your meal. Just make sure not to overcook the vegetables as some of the nutrients can be lost through this.
Other ways you can introduce fruit and vegetables into your diet include: making a vegetable soup for your dinner, adding chopped banana or other fruit to cereal, aiming to include two vegetables with each meal and taking carrot sticks or tomatoes as a snack in your lunch box.
Fruit and vegetables come in an endless colourful varieties, each with their own specific health benefits and what’s more, they are also convenient and quick to prepare.
It is unusual for anyone to have too many fruit and vegetables however there have been reports of hypercarotenosis which causes a yellowish discolouration to the skin; this usually disappears when carotenoids (provided by many fruit and vegetables but carrots are most notable) are removed from the diet. It is important to know that you have to eat an amount far in excess of the recommended portions per day to induce this condition.