Importance of Fruit & Vegetables in a Balanced Diet
We all know that fruit and vegetables are good for us. Whether you were brought up being told that an apple a day keeps the doctor away, or to aim for your 5 a day, the general consensus is that fruit and veg is good for your health.
Although these platitudes are nice and catchy, they don’t really explain the importance of fruit and vegetables within a balanced diet. So why are fruit and vegetables good for you?
Rich in nutrients
Fruit and vegetables are an essential part of any balanced diet because they bring so much to the table in terms of nutritional value. In general, fruit and vegetables are rich in various vitamins and minerals that offer a wide range of health benefits.
The importance of fruit and vegetables is also due to their high levels of fibre, which promotes good digestive health. Fruit and veg are also low in calories, which means they are good for all types of diets, particularly ones designed to promote weight loss.
One of the main nutrients within fruit and vegetables are carbohydrates – and particularly fibre. Carbs are important because they provide energy to your body, particularly glucose, which is transferred into your bloodstream and helps to power your brain.
Fruits are particularly high in natural sugars like glucose and sucrose, which are a great source of natural and healthy energy. Potatoes, alongside vegetables like sweet potatoes, are high in complex carbohydrates like starch and fibre. Fibre is particularly good for you as your body doesn’t digest it, making fibrous foods very filling and deterring you from overeating.
Another major nutrient found within fruit and veg is potassium, which is essential for your body, as it helps your nerve and muscle function (amongst other things). Fruits including bananas, apricots, and cantaloupe are excellent sources of potassium, while celery, spinach and squash also contain plenty of this nutrient.
Bananas and cantaloupes are also an excellent source of folate – a B-vitamin that helps the body form DNA – and is recommended to women during pregnancy. Folate is also abundant in leafy greens such as Brussels sprouts, asparagus, spinach, broccoli and lettuce.
Finally, fruits and vegetables are also high in vitamins A and C – two vital nutrients that help repair body tissue, keep your gums and teeth healthy, encourage healthy vision and protect your immune system – as well as a bunch of other things to boot!
vitamin A is found in veggies such as sweet potatoes, carrots, and bell peppers, while fruits like oranges, pineapple, mango and papaya are rich in vitamin C.
With so many different nutrients, the importance of fruit and vegetables in a balanced diet is easy to see. In terms of specific health benefits, however, why are fruit and vegetables good for you?
Various studies have suggested that eating a diet rich in particular fruits and vegetables can have numerous health benefits. One of the main benefits of such a diet is the reduced risk of heart disease. Consuming plenty of veg as part of an overall healthy diet has been linked in numerous studies to a lowered risk of heart attacks and strokes.
Fruit and vegetables that contain antioxidants such as vitamins C and E, as well as carotenoids, help to protect your body from ‘free radicals’ – molecules that cause damage to cells.
Cancer Research UK suggests that eating a balanced diet containing plenty of fruits such as blueberries, strawberries and cherries – as well as veggies including kale, spinach and carrots – can help reduce the risk of cancer.
High fibre diets can also reduce the risks of heart disease and obesity, while potassium-rich fruit and vegetables as part of a healthy diet are believed to lower blood pressure.
Within this discussion of the health benefits of fruit and vegetables, the same words emerge regularly – within a balanced or healthy diet. To ensure you stay fit and healthy, it’s important to balance fruit and vegetables with other key nutrients, which we will look at in the next section.
There are many different types of targeted diet, from weight loss programmes (such as Slimming World and the keto diet ), to training diets and veganism, all of which prioritise certain food groups.
There is a consistent element within all of these diet plans, which is to ensure you eat a good balance of various nutrient-rich foods.
With the exception of the keto diet, which encourages you to avoid carbohydrates as a method of burning fat, any balanced diet requires you to consume a wide variety of vitamins and nutrients to maintain a healthy body and mind.
Fruit and vegetables are an important part of any balanced diet (including keto diets) as they provide such a wide array of vital nutrients.
In dietary plans that target weight loss, fruit and vegetables play a vital role, due to their low calorie-content. As we discussed above, vegetables that are rich in fibre are great for weight loss, as they keep you full for longer, meaning you are less likely to snack throughout the day.
For vegetarians and vegans, fruit and vegetables are an obvious staple of the diet, alongside sources of protein like beans, grains, nuts and seeds. As part of a balanced diet, fruit and vegetables provide many of the nutrients we need to properly maintain ourselves, and keep our bodies healthy.
At the beginning of this post, we asked the question: why are fruit and vegetables good for you? Hopefully, we’ve demonstrated the importance of fruit and vegetables, which are so essential to a balanced diet thanks to a range of nutrients that keep us healthy and fighting fit. You can get your fruit delivered to work as well as a range of healthy vegetables and non-dairy milk with Ripe.