We all know that the nutritional values of vegetables are important to
add to our diet. There are so many conflicting views on food and
nutrition in general - but fruits and vegetables are two of the few
things nutritionists and doctors agree on - thanks goodness as it gets very confusing as I'm sure you know!
Just like fruit, vegetables contain unique disease fighting antioxidants which boost our health and can also slow down the natural ageing process.
It's all about free radicals and antioxidants. Free radicals caused by environmental toxins attack the bodies' cells which can then lead to serious health problems and diseases such as cancer, stroke, heart attack, arthritis, eye health problems, and Parkinsons/Alzheimers diseases. Antioxidants also slow the effects of ageing. Free radicals attack and damage the cells in the body that are important for a youthful appearance. Eating fruits and vegetables can delay the loss of muscle elasticity that leads to wrinkles and causes ageing. The body makes its own free radicals to fight off bacteria and viruses.
We also make our own antioxidants to counteract the bodies'
free radical damage. However, the body can only make a certain amount of
antioxidants and due to the increasing amount of environmental
pollution, the body could do with some help fighting off these dangerous
This is where fruit and vegetables come in. The nutritional
values of vegetables should not be underestimated as they provide the
body with a much needed source of powerful antioxidants which help to
fight free radical damage.
It is recommended that we eat at least five portions of fruit and vegetables per day (this is combined and not five of each) with newer research suggesting eight portions per day.
Note: A diet high in cruciferous vegetables, such as brussels sprouts, cabbage, kale, broccoli and cauliflower are also associated with a lower incidence of cancer. It is thought that cruciferous vegetables work at a much deeper level in the fight against serious diseases.
Try to choose organic fruit and vegetables where possible as organically grown food reduces exposure to toxins used in standard agricultural procedures.
Your five/eight a day can come from a variety of fruit and veggies including canned and frozen.
This is because vegetable nutrition can be depleted radically
during the transportation process of getting the fruits and vegetables
to your door.
Vegetable juice is only classed as one portion of your daily
intake no matter how much you drink. Smoothies are similar as they only
count as a maximum of two of your five/eight a day no matter how much you
consume. The same applies with beans and pulses (also classed as vegetables) but are only classed as one portion no matter how many you eat which makes sense when you think of tinned baked beans. Potatoes do not count towards your daily quota as these are starchy vegetables and lack the nutrients that other veggies do.