Fads come and go from time to time making some ‘popular’ foods become unpopular and unpopular foods become the kings and queens of the culinary scene and Chefs’ best friends. Fruits and vegetables are a food groups that are always there throughout the food trends and every other period. Sometimes, they become the fads themselves but their values are never diminished when it’s time for them to be replaced by what is trending next. The importance of fruits and vegetables has been well documented in science and new discoveries even take the importance up a notch. Bottom line is that fruits and vegetables are an important part of a healthy diet.
Basic science has always told us that fruits and vegetables contain important vitamins and minerals that help to maintain the body. Beyond this normal categorization, most fruits contain other components called phytochemicals that have been shown to protect and prevent the body from diseases. These components are ‘natural medicine’ that keep you farther away from trips to the hospitals.
Fruits and vegetables are excellent for boosting immunity. People who consume meals high in fruits and vegetables (3-5 servings or more per day) have lower risks of heart diseases and stroke. It also lowers blood pressure and there are strong links between eating fruits and vegetables and protection against cancer. It can also have a positive effect on keeping your blood sugar in check.
Fruits and vegetables are a great source of fibre and as such help to improve your gut health (gastrointestinal health). Fruits and vegetables generally provide low energy yet they give you a feeling of fullness thus preventing overeating and help you on your weight loss journey.
In Nigeria, fruits are quite expensive and depending on the vegetable of choice, you can get some cheaper than others. One large mango can be about N50 and for a family of four, that is about N200 for one serving of fruit. For about 3 servings, it would cost that family N600 per day. One way to minimize cost is to buy in bulk and perhaps share the cost with other families or colleagues around you to avoid having many of them perishing. Another method that some people use is to buy them at different ripening stages so that you would have time to consume and reduce spoilage. Freezing of some fruits also works well for those who do not have too much trouble with electricity supply. Also, go with fruits in season, they tend to be cheaper.
Be deliberate in incorporate vegetables into your family meal time-tables so that you can get family to eat more vegetables. To ensure that you have vegetables at home at all times, you can start a small vegetable garden, even in limited spaces. These days, people have buckets, pots and all sorts of containers filled with soil and growing vegetables on their balconies and other little spaces that can accommodate this.
The deal is you need to eat more fruits and vegetables every day. You need to find cost effective ways to make this come true for you. My advice to you is that you should do what you can, just start eating more and look for ways to sustain the habit of eating fruits and vegetables every day.
Things to note:
- Consuming a variety of fruits and vegetables is as important as important as consuming them in the right quantities because no one fruit or vegetable is so super that it provides all of the nutrients you need for healthy living.
- Fruits here refer to whole fruits and not fruit juices
- Serving sizes vary depending on the type of fruit and vegetables. 1 medium to large Apple is regarded as a serving
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- He, F.J., C.A. Nowson, and G.A. MacGregor, Fruit and vegetable consumption and stroke: meta-analysis of cohort studies. Lancet, 2006.367(9507): p. 320-6.
- Wiseman, M., The second World Cancer Research Fund/American Institute for Cancer Research expert report. Food, nutrition, physical activity, and the prevention of cancer: a global perspective. Proc Nutr Soc, 2008.67(3): p. 253-6.
- Dauchet L, Amouyel P, Hercberg S, Dallongeville J. Fruit and vegetable consumption and risk of coronary heart disease: a meta-analysis of cohort studies. Journal of Nutrition. 2006; 136(10):2588-93.
- He FJ, Nowson CA, Lucas M, MacGregor GA. Increased consumption of fruit and vegetables is related to a reduced risk of coronary heart disease: meta-analysis of cohort studies. Journal of Human Hypertension. 2007; 21(9):717-28.
- Hartley L, Igbinedion E, Holmes J, Flowers N, Thorogood M, Clarke A et al. Increased consumption of fruit and vegetables for the primary prevention of cardiovascular diseases. Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews. 2013; 6:CD009874.