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fruits and vegetables

What food source is the nutrient found in? 
Fruits and vegetables are good sources of many vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and other plant chemicals. Eating fresh fruits and vegetables has many advantages.

Beta-carotene is an antioxidant. It is found in dark green, orange, red, and deep yellow fruits and vegetables. Sources include apricots, broccoli, carrots, mustard greens, spinach, sweet potatoes, and winter squash.

Vitamin C is an antioxidant. It is found in citrus fruits. Sources include grapefruit, oranges, and mandarins. Vitamin C is also found in broccoli, green capsicum, kiwi fruits, potatoes, and strawberries.

Dark green leafy vegetables contain folate. Folate is essential for normal growth and maintenance of your body's cells. Folate is found in spinach, dried beans, liver, broccoli, cabbage, wheat germ, some fortified cereals, and asparagus. Oranges are also a good source of folate.

Vegetables in the cabbage family may be natural cancer fighters. They are called cruciferous vegetables. Experts believe that the nutrients, compounds, and phytochemicals they contain, along with their beta carotene, fibre, and vitamin C, have cancer fighting properties. Sources include broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cauliflower, and cabbage.

Tomatoes and tomato juice contain lycopene. This has been linked to a lower risk of heart disease and certain cancers, including prostate cancer.

Bananas, oranges, apricots, melon, and dried fruits contain potassium, an important mineral for the body.

How does the nutrient affect the body? 
Fresh fruits and vegetables are the ideal fast food. They are low-fat and cholesterol free. They are high in complex carbohydrates. They are packed with vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and fibre. Fresh fruits and vegetables help protect against many diseases. These include cataracts, cancer, diabetes, heart disease, high blood pressure, obesity, and stroke. This is just a short list. There are many others.

Scientists believe that certain vitamins and minerals can act as antioxidants. They protect cells from free radicals. Free radicals damage cells. This damage can lead to many chronic diseases. Beta-carotene, and vitamins C and E work as antioxidants.

Research suggests a possible link between high intakes of antioxidant vitamins and heart health. There is no concrete evidence yet. Fibre-rich foods may also help to lower blood cholesterol and promote heart health. These are more good reasons to include fresh fruits and vegetables in your diet each day because they are rich in antioxidants.

The Australian Guide To Healthy Eating recommends 2 servings of fresh fruits and five servings of vegetables each day. The Dieticians Association of Australia promotes 7 servings of fruit and vegetables per day for better health to reduce risk of disease. That may sound like a lot, but the serving sizes are small. One serving equals about one-half cup of cooked or 1 cup of raw vegetables. One-cup of leafy vegetables is a serving. A medium piece of fruit is a serving. One-half cup of canned fruit or one-quarter cup of dried fruit is a serving.

On average, Australians only eat 4.1 servings of fruit and vegetables each day. Adding more fresh fruits and vegetables to your daily diet can contribute many health benefits.

Canned and/or frozen fruits and vegetables can be good choices when certain fruits and vegetables are out of season. Choose canned fruits packed in fruit juice or light syrup. Vegetables should be canned without salt or fat.

Fresh fruits and vegetables contain different amounts of healthy nutrients. Consuming a variety makes for a healthy choice that can make big differences in overall health.

Author: Kelly Streit, MS, RD, LD
Reviewer: eknowhow Medical Review Panel
Editor: Dr John Hearne
Last Updated: 11/11/2004
Potential conflict of interest information for reviewers available on request

This website and article is not a substitute for independent professional advice. Nothing contained in this website is intended to be used as medical advice and it is not intended to be used to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease, nor should it be used for therapeutic purposes or as a substitute for your own health professional's advice.  All Health and any associated parties do not accept any liability for any injury, loss or damage incurred by use of or reliance on the information.


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