Recent changes in food guidelines have meant an increase in the recommended daily consumption of fruits and vegetables. That is because eating nutrient rich, low calorie, low fat foods such as fruits and vegetables, has been shown to have a strong impact on overall health.
In addition, high levels of fruits and vegetables in the diet has even been shown to help provide protection from a number of diseases and chronic conditions. There are ongoing studies on the relationship between a diet rich in fruits and vegetables and prevention of cancer, diabetes, heart disease and other conditions. While there may not yet be conclusive proof of a link between fruits and vegetables and lower risk of disease, there is ample anecdotal evidence to suggest that a healthy diet leads to a healthy body.
One reason for the strong health benefits of fruits and vegetables is their strong antioxidant qualities. Many fruits and vegetables are high in important antioxidant vitamins like vitamin C, vitamin E and vitamin A. In addition, fruits and vegetables contain lots of other nutrients and trace elements that are important to the proper function of the body.
Choosing the best fruits and vegetables is important, both to your health and the health of your food budget. We all have limited food budgets, and getting the best in terms of both taste and nutrition, is very important.
One way to get maximum value and maximum nutrition is to choose fresh, in season fruits and vegetables. That is because fresh, locally grown fruits and vegetables tend to be less expensive than their shipped counterparts.
If you have a farmers market or produce stand nearby, it can be an excellent source of the highest quality, lowest cost fruits and vegetables. Summer produce stands are excellent sources of delicious and nutritious fruits and vegetables.
In addition, buying fruits and vegetables as they come into season will instantly provide you with variety. There are literally hundreds of different varieties of fruits and vegetables at the average grocery store, and they all have different growing season. Buying the fresh in season fruits and vegetables is a great way to introduce yourself to some varieties you may never have tried before.
Of course there will be times when your favorite fruits and vegetables are not available locally. In those cases, frozen and canned varieties can do just fine. Just about every popular fruit and vegetable is available canned or frozen, and these can make wonderful, fast fruit salads or quick snacks.
It is important to choose fruits and vegetables in a variety of colors, and not only for ascetic reasons. Different colored fruits and vegetables contain different types of nutrients, and different levels of nutrients, so eating a good variety of green, gold, orange and purple is the best way to ensure adequate levels of nutrition.
How you cook the vegetables you buy is important as well. Over cooking can destroy many of the nutrients that make vegetables so healthy. Fortunately, most vegetables can be cooked by quickly steaming them in the microwave or on the stovetop.
How those cooked vegetables are served can also have a significant impact on their healthiness. Adding butter, margarine, oils or other fats to vegetables can quickly negate their health benefits. Better choices for seasoning cooked vegetables include fruit juices and low fat yogurt.
Most nutrition experts recommend that everyone eat from 5 to 9 servings of fruits or vegetables every day. While that may seem like an impossible goal, it is easier when you understand just what a serving consists of. One serving of a fruit or vegetable can be one medium sized piece of fruit, one slice of melon, two small pieces of fruit, one cup of strawberries, one cup of grapes, one half cup of canned fruit, one half cup of fruit salad, one side salad or one half cup of fresh fruit juice.
With all these choices to choose from, it is easy to see why fruits and vegetables are such a popular part of a healthy diet. No matter what your reason for pursuing healthy eating, fruits and vegetables are a healthy addition to any diet.