They are usually naturally low in fat, with the very odd exception (provided you don’t fry them or roast them in lots of oil). That’s why eating them can help you maintain a healthy weight and keep your heart healthy too.
They contain lots of water. In fact certain fruits like watermelon contain over 90% water. Even pretty hardy looking vegetables like carrots are made up of approximately 80% water.
They are pretty low in calories if you compare them to many foods. For example, the more vegetables you can pile on your plate, the more you can lower the calorie content of the meal usually. You can also enjoy lower calorie snacks by choosing fruit instead of other sweet foods. Did you know that a 100g chocolate bar contains approximately 9 (yes – 9!) times more calories than a medium sized 100g apple. Wow!
They contain soluble fibres, which form a kind of jelly substance in your stomach. This can help to make you feel full. The jelly also makes the food stay longer in the stomach, so this has the effect of keeping your blood glucose nice and stable over time. Of course this is better than sharp swift rises and falls in blood glucose – you know, the ‘I need something to eat NOW’ state, when you just end up making the not-so-good food choices because you’re in such a hurry to EAT! Fibre also helps maintain a healthy gut and prevents constipation and other digestion problems.
Because of their high water content, they have relatively low carbohydrate content in comparison to rice, cous cous, cereals and pasta. This not only means less calories but your body is less likely to over produce insulin.
Including lots of different fruits and vegetables can help you to eat a wide range of vitamins, minerals and phytonutrients or plant nutrients. Populations who have diets rich in fruits and vegetables have lower levels of certain cancers, heart disease and stroke. Your immune system benefits as well from a diet rich in fruits and vegetables.
Vegetables and certain fruits like bananas and avocado pears are good sources of potassium, which can help you to maintain a healthy blood pressure. The medical DASH diet which focuses on eating 8–10 servings of fruits and vegetables, as well as 2–3 servings of low fat dairy and a reduction in salt intake to 3g each day has been shown to lower blood pressure levels. High blood pressure can increase your risk of stroke.
Too much salt in our diet can also raise blood pressure. Most fruits and vegetables are naturally low in sodium or salt. So focus on putting more fresh food like fruits and vegetables and less processed foods into your shopping basket every week. Be careful not to add salt when you cook or at the table. Use black pepper instead.
Women of childbearing age planning a family need to ensure they take a folic acid supplement. Folate (folic acid) is also found in many green vegetables. Eating 3 vegetables each day can top up your intake naturally. Make sure at least one of your vegetables is green each day. Folate reduces the risk of birth defects during your baby’s development.
Finally, here’s the best reason. Fruits and vegetables bring an incredible variety of colours, flavours, and textures to meals and snacks. They taste amazing and delicious when cooked correctly, but they can taste even more delicious sometimes raw!