FRUITS AND VEGETABLES – THE UNPARRELLED HEALTHY OPTIONS

Do you remember this popular saying, “an apple a day keeps the doctor away”? Where did it come from?  Is it true?

Photo credit: Wikipedia

It is an English proverb with its first appearance around the 1860s. The original wording was ‘eat an apple on going to bed and you will keep the doctor from earning his bread’. It was re-constructed to the saying we know today sometime in the 19th century.

While a study was carried out where apple eaters were compared to non-apple eaters and there was no statistical difference in the number of times both groups visited their doctors; the origin and persistence of this saying go a long way to tell us the importance of fruit consumption. Increased fruit and vegetable consumption has been strongly linked to improved health, lower incidence of heart disease, cancer and other metabolic illnesses.

Fruits and Vegetables

Photo Credit: CBC News

Fruits and vegetables have several health benefits. The following are some of them;

  • Pears, apples and other fruits help prevent cardiovascular diseases like stroke and heart disease.
  • Fruits are helpful to regulate blood cholesterol levels.
  • Fruit and vegetable are rich in fibre and help with gastrointestinal motility and digestion.
  • Citrus fruits like orange, lemon etc. contain vitamin C which helps with wound healing, immunity and so on.
  • High vegetable consumption has been linked to a lower incidence of breast, colon and other cancers
  • The vitamin A found in watermelon helps in the proper functioning of the eyes and regeneration of the skin.

Despite these numerous health benefits, most people consume less than the daily requirements for fruits and vegetables. From my interaction with university students, the common reasons given include the following;

  • Bland taste
  • They are not filling
  • They are difficult to preserve
  • Availability and cost

If at all you fit into any of these categories, what are the possible solutions?

  • Try out varieties: There are fun ways to add flavour to veggies and numerous ways to consume different fruits. Don’t limit yourself!The Evolution of Fresh-Cut Packaging | Produce Business Magazine
  • Try out new fruits/vegetables: There are so many fruits and vegetables out there. When you go shopping and you see a fruit/vegetable you haven’t tried, try it out.
  • Fruits are satisfying. While protein is the most satisfying macro-nutrient, fruits and vegetables can also be filling. They are typically filling when consumed in sufficient quantities. Moreover, some vegetables like broccoli and carrots are more filling than others.
  • Buying fruits and vegetables in small quantities as needed is a possible solution to the short-lasting nature of these food types.

 

It is important to note that fruit juice is not a healthy substitute for fresh fruits, the packs contain no fiber and they have undergone processing with chemicals.

A crucial addition you should note is the fact that generally, there is more evidence for the health-protective effects of vegetables than for fruits.

Cheers to a healthy life!