Vegetables and Fruits

Research has proven that most Americans do not take the required amount of vegetables as well as fruits in their diet. This is substituted by an over indulgence in starch, fat and protein which has led to the obesity problem that is now rampant all over the country. Alongside obesity, diseases related to the same as well as inactivity and poor diet have become commonplace in the society. It is therefore crucial that people begin to take seriously the nutritional role played by vegetables and fruits. This paper discusses the nutritional facts of various fruits and vegetables as well as the health benefits of the same.

Vegetables and fruits contain a vast array of micronutrients as well as fiber that is good for ones health. Vegetables come in 5 subgroups namely starchy, orange, legumes, dark green as well as other vegetables that do not fall in any of the previous four categories. It is recommended that one take specific amounts from each group on a weekly basis. It is also recommended that one take fruits frozen, dried, canned or fresh as opposed to the juice, in order to take full advantage of the fiber they contain (Food Groups, 2008). Vitamin A, C and potassium are mainly found in vegetables, legumes and fruits.

They are also a source of folate that occurs naturally, which is a crucial nutrient for women in the age of childbearing especially during the first 3 months of pregnancy. Good sources of Vitamin A include foods such as pumpkin, sweet potatoes and carrots characterized by their bright orange color (Food Groups, 2008). Tomatoes and red sweet pepper are also a great source, as are leafy greens including beet greens, spinach, mustard greens, collards, kale, green leaf lettuce, turnip greens and romaine lettuce. Fruits like cantaloupe, mango grapefruit and apricots are also a great source of Vitamin A.

Vitamin C can be found in the above named leafy greens, citrus fruits such as kiwi, oranges, papaya and strawberries as well as broccoli, cabbages and brussel sprouts. Folate can be found in concentrated amounts in cooked dry peas and beans, oranges, and green leafy vegetables (Food Groups, 2008). Other nutrients such as potassium can be fount in leafy green vegetables, bananas and plantains, a variety of dried fruits, cooked dry beans as well as tomatoes. Vitamin E, can be found in various nuts, tomatoes, sunflower seeds, leafy greens and carrot juice.

When it comes to iron, most people think of organ meats or iron pills, however, there are vegetables such as spinach, soy beans, lima beans, kidney beans, chick peas and cowpeas that are an excellent source of the same (Food Sources, 2008). Milk is also not the only means of having calcium in one’s diet; white beans, kale, okra, soybeans and spinach are excellent examples of vegetables that contain calcium. Important minerals like magnesium can easily be ingested in spinach, almonds, pumpkins, navy beans, lima beans, okra and squash.

Fiber is necessary for the bulking up of stool leading to easy elimination of waste and reduced chances of constipation. It also goes a long way in helping one feel full longer which helps in weight loss. Fiber can be found in many beans, nuts and fruits (Food Sources, 2008). These nutrients and minerals tend to be a safeguard against many diseases. Various studies have been done that have proven that cardiovascular disease and stroke can be countered by the intake of vegetables and fruits. Indeed the higher the intake, the lower the chances of developing the disease (The Nutrition Source).

Green leafy vegetables were found to be critical in reducing the chances of developing heart disease as well as stroke. According to a DASH (Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension) study, people who ate a diet rich in fruits and vegetables and also reduced the amount of fats ingested significantly reduced their blood pressure. One can also reduce their chances of getting cancer by eating a diet rich in fruits as well as vegetables. It was found that lycopene, which is a pigment found in tomatoes that gives them their color protects from prostate cancer.

Additionally, plants that contain carotenoids have been found to protect against other cancers such as throat, mouth and lung cancer. Other health challenges that are addressed by fruit and vegetable intake include gastrointestinal issues as well as vision problems (The Nutrition Source). It is clear therefore that fruits and vegetables cannot be eliminated from one’s diet. Their health benefits outweigh any reasons one may have for disliking them or not eating them in the required quantities. For a longer life and better health, vegetables as well as fruits in one’s diet are a must have.


Food groups to encourage. (2009, July 9). Dietary Guidelines for Americans 2005. Retrieved March 27, 2009.

Food sources of selected nutrients.  (2009, July 9). Dietary Guidelines for Americans 2005. Retrieved March 27, 2009.

The nutrition source.  Harvard University School of Public Health. Retrieved March 27, 2009.

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