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Fruits and vegetables have well earned their name as they pack a wide variety of nutrients. These include phytochemicals, antioxidants, vitamins, minerals, and fiber.
Therefore, it is frequently recommended to include nutrient-dense produce in your diets. The micronutrients in fresh produce can help improve your general health and prevent chronic diseases.
Nutrition With Varied Fruits and Vegetables
Fruits and vegetables are very important to your well-being. (1) While they have many similarities, fruits and vegetables differ from each other and also within themselves.
- A small apple roughly provides less than 4 g of fiber and 11% of vitamin C, while a cup of raspberries provides 8 g of fiber and 53% of the daily value (DV) for vitamin C. However, both apple and raspberries contain similar amounts of carbohydrates. (2)(3)
- One cup of cooked cubes of butternut squash contains 6,388 µg of cryptoxanthin, (4) while 1/3 cup of kale, previously frozen, only contains 15 µg. (4)
- Oranges actually have half of the vitamin C per serving of red peppers. (5)(6)
- One cup of canned spinach contains 20,400 µg of the phytochemicals lutein and zeaxanthin, (7) while 1 cup of vegetable juice cocktail contains only 703 µg. (8)
- Half a cup of canned unsalted tomato product contains 54,385 µg lycopene, while grapefruit at double the serving size only contains 2,610 µg. (9)
Also, the form of the food will affect the nutritional content. For example, an apple eaten with the skin will contain more fiber than just apple juice, and the portion sizes will be different to achieve similar macronutrient compositions.
Therefore, each fruit and vegetable has its own nutritive profile, and knowledge of the same can help determine what is best suited to you.
Include a Rainbow of Colors in Your Diet
It is truly important to eat a variety of fruits and vegetables daily to assure a more varied and balanced intake of not only macronutrients (carbohydrates, protein, and fat) but also micronutrients.
Vegetables and fruits differ in their composition. The green-hued vegetables will have different micronutrients than what the orange/yellow-hued vegetables contain.
When you compare berries to peaches, they will have similar macronutrients per serving, but their amounts of micronutrients, such as vitamin C and fiber, will vary greatly.
Do Fruits and Vegetables Provide Carbohydrates?
Fruits and vegetables contain carbohydrates, typically more than the amount of fat or protein. (10)
Carbohydrates are an excellent source of energy, especially before any physical activity, and afterward, to replenish the glycogen stores that were used during the activity. (11) Also, the brain needs carbohydrates to function effectively.
What Is the Importance of Omega-3 Fatty Acids?
Omega-3 fatty acids, such as alpha-linolenic acid (ALA), eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA), and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), are part of the components that make up the cell membrane. DHA levels are the highest in brain and retina cells. (12)
Omega-3 fatty acids provide energy for the body, in addition to supporting a variety of mechanisms of the endocrine, cardiovascular, respiratory, and immune systems. (13) ALA isn’t utilized as efficiently as omega-3 fatty acids from fatty fish, but it is still important to consume.
The Office of Dietary Supplements of the National Institutes of Health recommends an intake of 1.1–1.6 g of ALA for adults, the varying amount due to age and gender. (14) Some sources of ALA include walnuts, flaxseed, soybean, and canola oils.
Why Should Walnuts Be Included in the Diet?
Walnuts are an excellent source of ALA, containing 2.5 g per 1 ounce serving. (15)
In addition to ALA, walnuts contain plenty of polyunsaturated fatty acids. They also contain 4 g of carbohydrates, with two of those from fiber, 4 g of protein, and 10% of the DV for magnesium.
Walnuts are a great addition to oatmeal, salads, snacks, yogurt parfaits, entrée garnish, bread, cooked grains, dark chocolate, and cookies. (16)
What Is the Difference Between Fresh and Frozen Produce?
The difference between fresh and frozen, provided the frozen fruits and vegetables are without additives or sauces, is that the quality of frozen foods remains preserved for longer.
The reason is the short amount of time between the picking of the product and freezing it, therefore helping lengthen the life of the product before its quality and taste degrade.
Are Frozen Fruits and Vegetables As Good as the Natural Ones?
There is a slight difference in the nutritive profile of fresh and frozen fruits. However, in today’s world, you can’t always rely on fresh fruits and vegetables year-round. This is due to the varying climates necessary for them to flourish.
Although fruits and vegetables can be grown in one climate and then shipped across the world, there are many components to consider. For example, shipping may take days, which impacts the freshness and quality of the fruits and vegetables due to the increased time frame between harvesting and selling/consuming.
If you are fortunate enough to live in a climate that allows a wide variety of fresh fruits and vegetables to grow year-round, you have a great opportunity to increase your intake. If, however, fresh produce isn’t readily available locally, you may want to consider purchasing frozen items, as some nutrition is better than no nutrition.
Fruits and vegetables are not only high in nutrition, but they also contain very low amounts of fat, thus aiding weight loss. Including a variety of colors in your diet by consuming different kinds of produce, as meals or even snacks, can do wonders for your health.