Dietary experts recommend that every person should eat at least five servings of fruits and vegetables every day. The importance of fruits and vegetables to a healthy diet has been known for quite some time, but studies have shown that very few people eat the amount of fruits and vegetables recommended for a healthy diet.
That’s a shame, since eating a sufficient number of fruits and vegetables just may be the single most effective thing you can do to improve your overall health. The five a day approach to healthy eating may be the single most important strategy you can adopt for a healthier lifestyle.
The many health benefits of eating fruits and vegetables have been established for quite some time now. Study after study has shown that a diet rich in fruits and vegetables lowers the risk of certain cancers, heart disease and other chronic diseases and conditions. Some studies have suggested that as many as 35% of cancer deaths can be attributed to diet, and that diets high in fats and low in fruits and vegetables contributes to unnecessary cancer deaths.
Fruits and vegetables have a lot of advantages besides just their nutritional importance. For one thing, they taste great and add a great deal of variety to everyday meals. Fruits and vegetables come in such a wide variety of colors, textures and flavors that they can be used in virtually every meal. Those seeking to maximize their consumption of fruits and vegetables should get into the habit of using fruits in salads, as toppings and as garnishes.
In addition to their great taste, fruits and vegetables are packed full of many essential vitamins and minerals, including many micronutrients that are not included in packaged vitamin supplements. For instance, foods like butternut squash, pumpkins, carrots, mangoes, peaches, pawpaws and green leafy vegetables are rich in beta carotene. Beta carotene is vital for healthy skin and eyes.
In addition, most varieties of fruits and vegetables contain vitamin C, another important vitamin and a strong antioxidant. Good sources of vitamin C include Brussels sprouts, citrus fruits, strawberries, broccoli, nectarines and kiwi fruit. Many fruits and vegetables, including spinach, broccoli and avocadoes, are also good sources of vitamin E, another excellent antioxidant.
Men and women alike should always strive to eat a healthy diet, but women have an extra incentive to get all the nutrition they need. Proper nutrition is essential to a healthy pregnancy, and some of the baby’s biggest nutritional needs happen before the pregnancy is discovered. Folic acid is perhaps the best known essential nutrient for pregnant women. Folic acid has been proven effective at preventing a variety of birth defects, including Spina Bifida. Good dietary sources of folic acid include Brussels sprouts, broccoli, spinach and oranges. In addition, due to its importance to women of child bearing years, many common foods such as cereals and breads, are supplemented with folic acid.
In addition to their importance as source of vitamins and minerals, fruits and vegetables also provide essential dietary fiber. Adequate fiber in the diet is important in preventing heart disease and some kinds of cancer.
Another great feature of fruits and vegetables, especially to those watching their weight, is the high nutrition, low fat, low calorie nature of these foods. Fruits and vegetables contain very low levels of fats, and a diet low in fat can be quite effective for long term weight loss. In addition, fruits and vegetables contain no cholesterol, and they are lower in calories than many other types of foods.
With all these things going for them, it is no wonder so many dietary experts recommend eating a diet rich in fruits and vegetables. Not only are fruits and vegetables delicious and nutritious, but they can be quite inexpensive as well. Buying fruits and vegetables that are locally grown, and that are in season, is usually the most cost effective way to get the freshest fruits and veggies at the lowest possible cost.
This buying strategy also helps to ensure a steady stream of new fruits and vegetables every month, as some go out of season while others are just coming in. Trying a variety of different fruits and vegetables, including some you may not be familiar with, is also a great way to create exciting new dishes and prevent yourself from becoming bored with the same old diet. Whether your goal is to lose weight or just increase your level of fitness, it is hard to go wrong with a diet rich in fruits and vegetables.