The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) have conducted studies which indicate that a plant-rich diet of fruits and vegetables is associated with a decreased risk of chronic diseases including heart attack and stroke. Depending on your personal nutritional goals, understanding what characteristics are possessed by fruits and vegetables can assist you in making wise food choices.
Folic acid is also called folate. This nutrient is especially beneficial to women of childbearing age or those who are within the first trimester of a pregnancy. Folic acid assists in the formation of red blood cells and contributes to a reduction of birth defects in fetal development. Oranges and orange juice, as well as dark, leafy green vegetables, such as spinach, are all items which are characteristically high in folic acid.
Dietary fiber reduces blood cholesterol levels and may possibly lower the risk of heart disease. The selection of fruits and vegetables containing fiber is extensive. Foods to consider for this benefit include raspberries, pears (with skin), oranges, bananas, apples (with skin), figs, raw carrots, Brussels sprouts, sweet corn, peas, artichokes, and skin-on, baked potatoes.
Adequate intake of calcium reduces bone loss brought on by aging. Bones and teeth are the largest concentrations of calcium in the human body. Vegetables which are dark green in color are high in calcium. These vegetables include kale, collard greens, broccoli, mustard greens and spinach.
Increasing your intake of potassium rich fruits, such as bananas, apricots, cantaloupe, prunes,and honeydew melon, may help to maintain healthy blood pressure levels. These foods should be eaten as close to their natural state as possible. Excess boiling, steaming or cooking, can destroy potassium levels.
The low-fat, low-calorie content of fruits and vegetables make them ideal for obtaining and maintenance of a healthy weight. Learning how to redefine what constitutes a snack can help with weight issues. If a person who used to reach for a handful of chocolate candies when they were hungry can train themselves to instead reach for a handful of grapes, they will experience the same level of fullness without it negatively impacting their weight.
- Mayo Clinic: Tips to Bone Up on Bone Health; 2011
- Centers for Disease Control: Fruit and Vegetable Consumption Among Adults --- United States, 2005; 2007
- My Pyramid: Why Is It Important to Eat Fruit; 2011
- United States Department of Agriculture: Dietary Guidelines for Americans; 2011
- WebMD: Potassium; R. Morgan Griffin; 2010