Diets high in fresh fruits and vegetables are widely recommended for their health-promoting and disease prevention properties. Regular consumption of fresh fruits and vegetables is associated with a lower risk of developing a wide variety of diseases including obesity, type 2 diabetes, heart disease, and cancer. In fact, researchers believe some of these bioactive compounds may be just as effective – if not more effective – than prescription medications in disease prevention and treatment.
Fiber is naturally found in plant-based foods (not animal products) and populations who consume diets high in fiber are at lower risk of developing obesity, type 2 diabetes, heart disease, and cancer.
When increasing fiber intake, consider increasing intake gradually (e.g., 5 – 10 grams per week) in order to reduce the side effects associated with rapid fiber intake. Symptoms frequently experienced by individuals who increase their fiber intake too rapidly include gas, abdominal bloating, feelings of fullness, nausea, and diarrhea; however, these side effects are temporary and decrease over time.
One of the best things about eating more fresh fruits and vegetables is the fact that you get to eat more — a lot more. This is because fresh fruits and vegetables are naturally low in calories. No, fresh fruit is not “high in sugar.” Nor does it promote weight gain or type 2 diabetes. I review this topic in greater detail within the page titled Does Fruit Have Too Much Sugar? I personally eat a ton of fresh fruits and vegetables (you can view photos of my grub via the page titled Rebel Grub) and I’m not overweight. The truth is, there isn’t any evidence — not a single study — that suggests fresh fruit promotes weight gain in any amount.
What about fresh smoothies?
Fresh fruit and vegetable smoothies are considered healthful when they are prepared without added sugar and fat. Whenever possible, include the peel and other edible parts of fruits and vegetables in your smoothies for added health benefits. With this being said, it is important to understand that food processing; which, includes mechanical blending, increases the energy available from food. In simple terms, this means the energy provided by an equivalent amount of whole fruits and vegetables when consumed either whole or as a smoothie is greater with the smoothie. My point is, consume fresh fruits and vegetables whole, with the peel, whenever possible for optimal health benefits (including weight management).
What about dried fruit?
Consumption of naturally dried fruit appears to be healthy. Dried fruits contain high amounts of bioactive compounds including anthocyanins, acetogenins, catechins, coumarins, phenolic acids, terpenes, and xanthones. In a recent study, postprandial responses after consuming 50 grams of carbohydrate from raisins resulted in a significantly different glucose and insulin response when compared to 50 grams of carbohydrate from white bread. If you are a fan of dried fruit, consider dehydrating your own or purchasing products that have not been treated with added sugar, oil, or sulphur.
Increasing intake of fresh fruits and vegetables also contributes to improved hydration. Fresh fruits and vegetables are a natural source of water and electrolytes. As such, populations with high intakes of fresh fruits and vegetables often drink less free water. Why drink your water if you can eat it?! 🙂
Eat the Rainbow
When it comes to eating more fruits and vegetables, it’s important to focus on eating a greater variety of different plants in order to optimize intake of micronutrients and bioactive compounds.
Tomatoes, pink grapefruit and watermelon, which are rich in the carotenoid lycopene, a potent free-radical scavenger that likely protects against prostate cancer as well as heart and lung disease.
Red and Purple
Red and blue grapes, blueberries, strawberries, beets, eggplant, red cabbage, red peppers, plums and red apples are loaded with powerful antioxidants called anthocyanins believed to delay cellular aging and help the heart by blocking the formation of blood clots.
Carrots, mangoes, cantaloupe, winter squash and sweet potatoes are rich in the cancer-fighter alpha and beta-carotene; which, protect the skin against free-radical damage as well as promote the repair of damaged DNA.
Orange and Yellow
Oranges, peaches, papaya and nectarines are high in beta-cryptothanxin; which, supports intracellular communication and may help prevent heart disease.
Yellow and Green
Spinach, collards, corn, green peas, avocado and honeydew are sources of the carotenoids lutein and zeaxanthin. These antioxidants are associated with a reduced risk of cataracts and age-related macular degeneration; which, is the leading cause of preventable blindness in developed countries.
Broccoli, brussels sprouts, cabbage, kale, and bok choy are rich sources of several anti-cancer compounds including sulforaphane, isocyanate, and indoles.
White and Green
Garlic, onions, leeks, celery, asparagus, pears and green grapes contain bioactive compounds including allicin, quercetin, and kaempferol.
Storage of Fresh Produce
You can learn more about produce storage and handling by visiting the page titled Produce Storage and Handling.
To learn more about my lifestyle, visit the page titled Rebel Lifestyle.
To view photos of my clean and green grub, visit the page titled Rebel Grub.
Posters and Charts
To view my posters and charts, visit the page titled Posters.
To view shopping lists, visit the page titled Shopping Lists.
To view meal planning information, visit the page titled Meal Planning.
To view the answers to my frequently asked questions, visit the page titled FAQs.
Pinterest and Facebook
Posters and Charts
Except where otherwise noted, content on this site is licensed under a CC BY-NC-ND 4.0 license. This means you are free to use my work for personal use (e.g., save the file to your computer or share via social media) as long as you do not modify the image or use the image for commercial purposes ($). Big hugs! Dana
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