Fruits and vegetables are edible parts of plants, such as seed-bearing structures, flowers, buds, leaves, stems, shoots and roots, either cultivated or harvested in their raw state or in minimally processed form. Excluding the following:
- Starch and tubers such as cassava, potato, sweet potato and yams (although the leaves of these plants are consumed as a vegetable).
- Dry grains legumes, unless harvested as immature.
- Cereals, including maize, unless harvested when immature.
- Nuts, seeds and oilseeds such as coconut, walnut, and sunflowers.
- Medicinal or herbal plants and spices. Unless used as vegetables.
- Stimulants such as tea, cacao and coffee.
- Processed and ultra-processed products made from fruit and vegetables
Green, yellow, red, orange or purple: fruit and vegetables keep us healthy and add variety, taste and texture to our diet. Moreover, fruits and vegetables have crucial dietary guidance because of their nutritional concentration of vitamins, especially vitamins C and A; minerals, especially electrolytes; and, more recently, phytochemicals, especially antioxidants. Additionally, fruits and vegetables are recommended as a source of dietary fibre.
Types of fruit
Fruit is the sweet, fleshy, edible part of a plant. It generally contains seeds. Fruits are usually eaten raw, although some varieties can be cooked. Common types of fruits available will include apples and pears.
- Citrus – oranges, grapefruits
- Stone fruit – nectarine
- Melons – watermelons, rockmelons
- Berries – strawberries, raspberries.
Types of Vegetables
Vegetables are available in wide varieties and can be classified into biological groups and families
- Leafy green – lettuce, spinach
- Cruciferous – cabbage, cauliflower, broccoli.
- Root – potato, sweet potato and yam
- Allium – onion, garlic and shallot
Legumes or pulses contain valuable nutrients and must be cooked before consumption because this improves their nutritional quality, aids digestion and eliminate any harmful toxin.
- Soy products – tofu and soya beans
- Fresh beans and peas – green peas, green beans, butter beans.
- Dried beans and peas – haricot beans, red kidney beans
Health benefits of fruits and vegetables
- Bone health: Humans need calcium for building and maintaining strong bones. It occurs naturally in broccoli and dark leafy greens such as kale, collard, oranges and dry figs.
- Immune health: vitamin C plays an essential role in the body’s ability to heal damaged tissues; fruits high in vitamin C include oranges, strawberries, bell pepper, and kiwi.
- Digestion: fruits and vegetables are excellent choices of fibre. Fibres prevent blood sugar spikes, and it also helps the digestive system function properly.
- Promote weight loss: fruits and especially vegetables are low in calories and fat, which means taking fruits can increase fullness without worrying about extra calories.
- Protection against cancer and other diseases: phytochemicals in fruits are biologically active substances that help protect against some conditions, such as high blood pressure and stroke.
Specifically, cruciferous veggies, such as broccoli, cabbage and water crest, have been linked to reducing cancer risk.
- It gives your diet a variety apart from the texture and taste. Each plant pigment provides specific health benefits. For example, the Iycophenes in tomatoes, watermelon and pink grapefruits protect against prostate cancer, while the beta carotenes in carrots, sweet potatoes, and pumpkin promote good vision and healthy mucous membranes.
The World Health Organisation(WHO) recommends that adults eat at least 400g, or five portions, of fruits and vegetables( excluding potatoes, sweet potatoes and other starchy roots) per day to reduce the risk of the diseases. This amount also ensures adequate fibre intake and reduces total sugar intake.