Encouraging people to eat more fruit and vegetables is seen a top priority by those who are promoting a healthier diet. Many serious illnesses are caused by nutritional deficiency due to a diet made up of poor quality food and far to many people are eating processed foods and fast foods that have little or no nutritional value.
Research indicates that nine or ten servings of fruits and vegetables a day is optimal, whereas dietary guidelines tend to recommend a minimum of five servings a day. However it would appear that most populations are consistently not reaching even half this goal. Attempts to increase the intake of fruit and vegetables is proving to be a major public health challenge.
So why are vegetables so beneficial to our health?
- The fibre content in fruit and vegetables, ultimately aids the digestive process.
- Vitamins – Vitamin C and the B complex vitamins are found in all fruit and vegetables whereas vitamin A is found in read yellow and orange fruit and vegetables such as carrots and tomatoes.
- Minerals – The minerals copper, iron, zinc, iodine, manganese, molybdenum, selenium and potassium are found in certain fruit and vegetables
- Phytonutrients- More recently research has been focusing on a different set of nutrients called phytonutrients. These bioactive substances are found in all plants – not just fruit and vegetables but also in flowers, herbs spices, seeds, nuts, oils, cereals, pulses, chocolate as well as beverages such as tea and coffee. Many but not all of these nutrients are highly coloured. There are 20 top phytonutrients each with their own special name and properties
- It is well documented that people who eat a diet rich in plant foods have a reduced incidence of heart disease and cancer