Thu | Nov 14, 2019

Fit 4 Life | 5 reasons to load up on fruits and vegetables

Published:Wednesday | October 16, 2019 | 12:15 AM
Fruits and vegetables are known to be 'healthy' foods.
Fruits and vegetables are known to be 'healthy' foods.

Fruits and vegetables are known to be 'healthy' foods. Every nutrition plan and 'diet' pushes them as must-have foods to power your health and fitness, so there must be some truth to it. Yet, most people fall short of the recommended daily intake. In fact, some people downright refuse to eat them.

If you are still not sold on the benefits, here are five reasons to start eating more fruits and vegetables:

1. MORE MICROS

While protein, carbs, and fats are important, a healthy supply of micronutrients is necessary for optimum bodily function. Micronutrients – that is, vitamins, minerals – are also harder to come by. If you load up on a variety of fruits and vegetables, though, getting enough 'micros' isn't an issue. This is because most fruits and vegetables are nutrient-dense; meaning, they have a high content of micronutrients per calorie. This not only makes them perfect for providing great nutrition but also for helping to keep the number of calories per meal at a minimum.

2. PROTECTION FROM NCDS

Over the years, studies have shown that people who consume more fruits and vegetables are less likely to develop cardiovascular issues such as strokes and heart attacks. In fact, the Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension (DASH) diet, which requires five servings a day, has been shown to reduce high blood pressure. Fruit and vegetable consumption is also linked with reduced risk of other non-communicable diseases (NCDs), such as diabetes.

3. FIBRE SOURCE

When it comes to gut health, plant foods are indispensable for their fibre content. Fibre brings numerous health benefits.

Fibre:

• Normalises bowel movements.

• Helps maintain bowel health.

• Lowers cholesterol levels.

• Helps control blood sugar levels.

• Aids in maintaining healthy body weight.

• Helps you live longer. Studies suggest that increased dietary fibre intake is associated with reduced risk of dying from cardiovascular disease and all cancers.

Fruits and vegetables are a tasty, rich source of fibres from which one can draw these and other benefits.

4. EASY TO PREPARE

Fruits and vegetables can be a real time saver. Most fruits require no prep; just wash and eat. Vegetables are also easy to prepare, requiring little or no cooking. They also play very well in many quick recipes such as smoothies and salads. This ease of preparation also checks one other healthy-eating box: reducing processed foods. The ease of preparation of fruits and vegetables makes them a perfect substitute for processed foods, especially as snacks.

5. VARIETY

There are too many fruits and vegetables available for one to run out of options. Don't like the taste of bananas, papayas are also widely available. Lettuce too expensive, callaloo is just as good. Variety means that you should never be bored with fruits in your diet; you can always try something new. As a bonus, there are also many healthy recipes to choose from.

yourhealth@gleanerjm.com