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One apple a day keeps the doctor away – they say. However, this is not even close to being enough fruit intake, neither it is a varied diet. Fruits and vegetables are a valuable part of our diet – this is what we are told since being a kid. Indeed, these food contain many beneficial nutrients and have a positive effect on our physical and psychological wellbeing. However, choosing the ones you eat and how much you eat a day should be a conscious decision. Let’s see why you should eat more fruits and vegetables and what you should take into consideration while doing that.

What are the positive effects?

Fruits and vegetables are an important part of a healthy lifestyle. A diet rich in these can lower blood pressure, reduce risk of heart disease and stroke, prevent some types of cancer, lower risk of eye and digestive problems, and have a affect blood sugar positively. This happens thanks to the complex network of nutrients they hold. They contain many antioxidants, which may reduce DNA damage, and lead to a reduced risk of cancer.

Which fruits and vegetables can fight diseases?

  • Cardiovascular disease (heart disease and stroke): green leafy vegetables such as lettuce, spinach, chicory, Swiss chard, and mustard greens, cruciferous vegetables such as broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, Brussels sprouts, bok choy, and kale, citrus fruits such as oranges, lemons, limes, and grapefruit, apples and pears
  • Cancer: lettuce and other leafy greens, broccoli, bok choy, cabbage, garlic, onions, green beans, peppers, carrots, fruits
  • Diabetes: whole fruits, especially blueberries, grapes and apples
  • Gastrointestinal health: all fruits and vegetables contain indigestible fiber, which can help the digestive system function in order.
  • Vision: Eating fruits and vegetables can also keep your eyes healthy.

It will not be possible to bottle the effects of fruit and vegetables or put them in a pill. The whole package of beneficial nutrients you obtain by eating fruits and vegetables is vital to your health. It is important to eat whole plant foods instead of taking antioxidant or vitamin supplements, which are not studied to reduce disease risk.

smootie

What is the ideal amount?

A daily intake of even 200g (equals two and a half standard 80g portions) is associated with:

  • a 16% reduced risk of heart disease
  • an 18% reduced risk of stroke
  • a13% reduced risk of cardiovascular disease
  • 4% reduced risk of cancer
  • a 15% reduction in the risk of premature death.

Although three portions of fruit and vegetables is good, 10 a day is even better. Eating up to 800g of fruit and vegetables can make the above written reduction numbers 24%, 33%, 28%, 13%, 31% (following the same order). You can start by adding an extra portion of fruit or veggies a day to your lunch or try changing one of your snacks for a piece of fruit.

Fresh fruit may even improve a person’s psychological health. These benefits may occur after only two weeks of increased fruit and vegetable consumption.

Here’s what 800g of fruits or veggies look like:

1apple 1pear 1banana 1tomato 1 orange juice
grapefruit 2 kiwi tablespoons of peas 8 cauliflowers

Source: https://www.theguardian.com/society/2017/feb/23/five-day-10-portions-fruit-veg-cut-early-death

 

There can be some cons, too, about eating 10 portions of fruits and vegetables. Most people don’t eat more than 1kg of food per day. Consequently, there is only 200g left for cereals, nuts, pulses, meat and dairy, which provides nutrition values. Choosing fuit and vegetables consciously is very important, since many of them are rich in indigestible fibres but others are mostly water and contain a lot of sugar. Choosing a balanced combination of them and eating them alongisde other food is vital to avoid nutritionally unbalanced diet, which leads us to the next chapter of the article…

making salad

Variety is as important as quantity

No single fruit or vegetable provides all the nutrients you need, so you should eat different types to ensure having a healthy diet. Eat a variety of types and colors to give your body the mix of nutrients as well.

It is also important when it comes to variety, that you do not eat fruit to the exclusion of other foods. Otherwise, the intentionally healthy diet can turn into nutritional deficiencies. Fruit is not a good source of iron or zinc, both of which are crucial components of a healthy diet. Excessive fruit intake can also cause stomach upset in some individuals, and high blood sugar is another side effect of too much fruit consumption. Of course, fruit should not be totally avoided for this reason, since it has many positive effect as shown above. It just needs to be kept in reasonable, varied portions and eaten alongside other food.

Besides, fruits and veggies can also be eaten to the point of caloric excess, which leads to weight gain over time. However, they are not that high in calories when compared to other foods. A dozen bananas is approx. 1 200 calories, which equals equivalent to 14 cups of blueberries. That many blueberries over the course of one day is definitely not the amount you would eat. Still, there are ways to get too many calories from fruit, which comes back to the neccesity of a varied fruit intake.

Summary

Eating enough ang varied fruits and vegetables is key to a healthy diet. There are many aspects to take into consideration. Here is a basic strategy to follow if you want to start eating more of these vitamin and fiber sources.

  • Keep fruit where you can see it to stimulate your appetite
  • Explore and choose something new to ensure variety
  • Skip potatoes, choose other veggies with more nutrients and slowly digested carbohydrates
  • Try cooking new recipes that include more vegetables and make a meal out of vegetables

Do not forget that eating healthy is only one of the many aspects of a healthy lifestyle, alongside with physical and mental exercise, being in nature, avoiding many chemicals and sleeping enough and well. Read more about How to Sleep Better? – The Perfect Rest.


vegetables variety

Do you eat fruits and vegetables regularly? Do you prefer salad or cooked veggies? Leave your comments in the comment section regarding this healthy topic.

Sources, related articles:

https://www.hsph.harvard.edu/nutritionsource/what-should-you-eat/vegetables-and-fruits/

https://www.theguardian.com/society/2017/feb/23/five-day-10-portions-fruit-veg-cut-early-death

http://www.bbc.com/news/health-39057146

http://edition.cnn.com/2017/02/23/homepage2/ten-portions-fruit-vegetables-study/index.html

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