Health Benefits of Vegetables and Fruits

In addition, to exercise, the health benefits of vegetables and fruits have been studied for many years now. Furthermore, it is highly recommended that individuals consume a diet comprised of not just everyday greens, like spinach or kale, but a variety of different colored produce. Let’s dive right in for a better understanding of these benefits.

Fresh veggies on display

Fresh veggies on display – Credit: Liz West, Flickr 

 

Why Should You Consume Them?

You Feel Better

Why should you eat them? People who include vegetables and fruit in their daily diet feel better. They are full of antioxidants and low in calories. The benefits of vegetables and fruits on your health can be felt soon after adjusting your diet to include a higher quantity of them.

  • You will have higher energy levels.
  • You will be able to focus better.
  • They reduce your stress levels.
  • You experience fewer mood swings.
  • You will have less bloating and gas.
  • It keeps your appetite under control.

Good for Your Health

Fruits and vegetables are naturally low in fat, salt, and sugar, which will help you maintain a healthy weight when you opt for healthier food options. The insoluble and soluble fiber found in produce aids in regulating the digestive system, which is important for normal bowel functioning. You may reduce your risk of stroke, cardiovascular diseases, and type 2 diabetes. You will also reap the following benefits consuming a diet high in vegetables and fruits:

  • Promotes healthy vision and protects against eye problems like cataracts
  • Keeps skin healthy and younger looking by fighting off premature aging
  • Helps you heal faster and improves your immune system
  • Maintains healthy teeth and gums
  • Helps you absorb nutrients better
  • Protects unborn children from birth defects such as spina bifida and neural tube defects
  • Reduces risk of bone loss and development of kidney stones

How Much Should You Eat?

The USDA recommends the public adhere to a well-rounded diet tailored according to their age, sex, and activity levels. For example, a 30-year-old woman with daily activity levels below 30 minutes would only need to consume 2 ½ cups of vegetables and 2 cups of fruit each day. A small apple is considered to be one cup, which is one serving. When you consider the enormous portions restaurants serve, a small apple is really not that much in comparison. Some dishes contain an entire day’s worth of calories, salt, and fat.

There is nothing wrong with indulging in unhealthy foods occasionally, but if consumed on a daily basis it will have a negative impact on your health. To avoid falling into an unhealthy routine, make a conscious effort to aim for approximately three to five servings of vegetables and two servings of fruit every day. Don’t eat the same vegetables and fruits every day. Feel free to eat more than five servings of vegetables each day, especially if you lead a highly active lifestyle. Mix it up and include vegetables from every color throughout the week to ensure you consume a diet full of essential vitamins, minerals and antioxidants.

How Should You Eat Your Produce?

Eating your fruit and vegetables raw is almost always going to be the best option. If you can’t stomach the taste of certain raw vegetables, then juicing might be an option for you. Juicing is the method of extracting the juice from the flesh of your produce. If you are going to juice your items to get your daily-recommended servings, then here are some tips to consider:

  • Juice mainly vegetables with a fruit to sweeten or mask the strong flavor of items like kale and something acidic (like a lemon) to help with the absorption.
  • Juicing mainly fruits will result in the consumption of lots of sugar and calories, which is really not much better than drinking a soda.
  • Chew or swish the juice around in your mouth to encourage the digestive process to begin, since it starts in the mouth.
  • Save the pulp and use it in a variety of recipes.
  • Do not replace all of your meals with juice because then you will lack nutrients such as protein that are needed for a balanced diet.
  • Wash your produce thoroughly prior to juicing.
  • Try to buy organic produce, especially the items listed on the “Dirty Dozen” list.

You can also blend your vegetables and fruit to create healthy smoothies. If you blend them, then you are going to use the whole product, except for the seeds, pits, and peelings. It takes less time to blend your veggies and fruits than juicing them. Smoothies can also serve as a meal replacement, but should not be consumed in the place of every meal. Juicing and blending serve as excellent alternatives to eating raw vegetables and fruits if you are trying to meet your daily needs.

Vegetables

Vegetables. Credit: Elizabeth Stilwell, Pixabay

Don’t forget that you can cook them in a variety of tasty recipes. Crack open a recipe book or get creative. Make sure not to overcook them, as that will result in a loss of nutrients. Add fruit (like blueberries or strawberries) to your oatmeal, cereal or yogurt. If you have a busy workweek, pack your snacks ahead of time in small containers. You can also store fresh juice in reusable containers and take them along with you.

Additional Considerations

If you are going from eating a diet without fruit and vegetables to a diet filled with a variety of them every day, gradually make the changes to your diet over the period of a couple of weeks. There is less chance of shocking your digestive system if you go slowly. If you suddenly begin consuming high quantities of fiber, then you’re going to experience uncomfortable bloating and gas. It is also important to increase your consumption of water to help offset the increase in fiber.

Don’t let this scare you off—gas and bloating are actually good indicators that your body is acclimating to the healthy adjustments you’ve made to your diet. Stick it out because as time passes, your body will adjust, resulting in regular bowel movements and an overall sense of feeling better. It is always wise to speak with your doctor before making any significant changes to your diet.

What tips can you offer for those trying to make the changes necessary to live a healthier lifestyle?


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