The Importance of Fruits and Vegetables
Just one out of 10 people consume the recommended daily amount of fruits and vegetables in their diet. Eating healthy food options, such as fruits and greens can boost your energy, exercise performance, and it may even help you live longer.
Vibrantly colored produce provides specific micronutrients called phytonutrients, which help your body function properly. They play an essential role in the maintenance of overall health, strength and performance output, recovery, and they even slow down aging.
I highlighted some nutritious and delicious fruit and vegetable options in today’s blog just for you! Just keep reading and find out their true importance, and an easy way to incorporate them!
Best Fruit and Vegetable Options
Every fruit and vegetable offers different nutritional benefits. Therefore, we need to have an adequate variety which will satisfy all of our needs.
- Bananas are a great source of carbohydrates, potassium and B vitamins. They are proven to boost energy, making them an ideal pre-workout snack. Several studies even suggest that a single banana could bring similar results to a pre-workout supplement or carbohydrate drink for performance and endurance.
- Strawberries represent a great source of vitamin C, manganese, folic acid, and potassium. Vitamin C, which is also found in Lemons, Oranges, and other citrus fruits, is shown to reduce fatigue and promote recovery. Its role also impacts carnitine, a critical player in energy production. Manganese and folic acid help facilitate the breakdown of carbs, fats, and proteins for energy.
- Sweet Potatoes are a delicious and nutritious veg option. Rich in fiber, sweet potatoes are considered a complex carb source that supplies a steady stream of energy. They are also an amazing source of vitamin A in the form of beta-carotene which can improve performance when training.
- Avocados are simply amazing! They are rich in healthy fats and contain a high amount of fiber, which promotes good gut and colon health. Rich in B vitamins as well, making them a vital part of metabolism ad mitochondrial function.
Strength and Endurance:
- Beets present a wildly popular vegetable in the fitness community. Their high nitrate content is proven to convert into nitric oxide, which improves circulation, endurance, and athletic performance. So, next time opt for beetroot juice before your workout, the results may surprise you!
- Cherries are not only delicious, but also very nutritious. Their most prominent benefit would be the ability to significantly improve one’s recovery and decrease soreness after rigorous training.
- Kale is a dark leafy green that is often missing in an athlete’s diet. It is rich in vitamin A, K, B6, iron, and lutein, which all aid in recovery, energy improvement, improved oxygen flow, and reduction in inflammation. Adding kale to your shakes can impact your strength and endurance, test it out and see for yourself!
- Edamame is the perfect veg snack you need to know about. Its high protein content is able to promote recovery and muscular development. Not to mention the folic acid content which works in conjunction with iron to help increase energy and combat fatigue.
Longevity and Overall Health
- Blueberries come with a myriad of benefits. They contain the highest amounts of antioxidants among commonly consumed fruit and vegetables. They prevent heart disease and regulate blood sugar levels.
- Carrots have high levels of carotenoids, which are naturally present in red and yellow colored vegetables. Carotenoids are also antioxidants, which improve the ability to combat stress and immune functioning. Research also suggests that eating more carotenoids may lead to greater longevity.
- Broccoli like other green leafy vegetables, broccoli may help promote longevity. It is a great source of selenium, calcium, magnesium, fiber and vitamins A, C, E and K. Broccoli also has special phytochemicals that are precursor to the pathways that help slow down aging.
- Goji Berries similar to blueberries, are also filled with antioxidants that help protect cells against free radicals and promote health and longevity. They are also said to lower cholesterol, improve gut health, and boost cognitive function.
How to Incorporate More Fruits and Vegetables?
Before we look at some ways you can add more fruits and vegetables to your diet, it is best we first establish the recommended amounts you should eat per day.
The Food Guide recommends 7 to 10 servings of fruits and vegetables per day.
And how much is a serving?
½ cup of fresh frozen or canned vegetables
½ cup cooked leafy vegetables
1 cup raw leafy vegetables
1 fruit (banana, apple, orange)
½ cup frozen or canned fruit
½ cup 100% juice
And here are seven strategies to get more fruits and vegetables into your diet:
- Meal Prep – Cooking and prepping meals at home can be an easy way to make sure you consume enough micronutrients. Start with cutting bell peppers and carrots into sticks, then move towards sautéed, roasted, braised or even steamed veggies. And almost any fruit serves as a perfect healthy dessert on the side.
- Snacks – Prepare kale chips or cut up carrots and bell peppers into sticks, and dip into hummus, low-fat ranch, or nut butter, and you have a perfect snack. This can be also applied for fruits, like bananas, apples, etc. Low-fat yoghurt with fruits is also a perfect snack.
- Fruit or Veggie Breakfast – Oatmeal or protein pancakes with fruit is an ideally balanced breakfast option you should try. Egg veggie muffins are too, a great way to ensure you consume those phytonutrients at the start of your day.
- Blend More – You may dislike the taste of many vegetables, and yes sometimes it’s not really easy to get 7-10 servings per day. Fortunately, you can incorporate fruit and veg smoothies and shakes, and change their taste completely. Try combining green leafy vegetables like spinach and kale, with bananas and blueberries, add some protein powder or dates for sweetness, and you’ll be amazed of the taste you get.
- Combine – Try mixing your vegetables into food you’re already eating. For instance, add them to your spaghetti sauce, or to your meat, whatever works for you. The taste will be less prominent, and you’ll like them more.
- Choose Your Favorites – Eating more fruits and vegetables shouldn’t be a struggle, simply choose the ones you actually like eating. Just make sure you have some variety, not eating carrots or bananas exclusively every single day.
And there you go, it’s not that hard to get your fruits and veggies in each day. It just takes a little bit of knowledge, effort, and planning to make the right healthy choices!