What are the benefits of fruit and vegetables?
Fruit and vegetables are high in fiber and packed full of nutrients. As part of a healthy, balanced diet, we should ideally consume between 5 to 10 servings per day, split over all our meal times.
I recommend a maximum of 2 – 3 servings of fruit per day and rather make up the balance with vegetables. Chopped, raw vegetables make great snacks.
Fruits are naturally high in sugar so can have a negative impact on blood sugar levels if consumed in excess.
Whole fruits, however, contain soluble and insoluble fiber which slows the absorption of sugar and provides food for the beneficial bacteria in the gut.
The fiber forms a gel-like framework inside the duodenum. This slows the absorption of sugar down, which is less overwhelming for the body than refined sugar.
As soon as the fiber is removed from the fruit, the same health risks as other sugars apply. Fruit juice is an example of this. As soon as the pulp and fiber is removed in the juicing process, there is nothing left to form a protective layer in the digestive tract and the body is then overwhelmed with a huge sugar hit.
Eat the rainbow?
It’s always good to introduce a variety of fruit and vegetables to your diet. The different colours and types of fruit and vegetables provide different nutritional benefits.
Fruit and vegetables contain high amounts of antioxidants, phytonutrients, polyphenols and other compounds which help to negate the effects of free radicals.
Apples, pears, berries, citrus fruits, salad greens, green leafy vegetables, yellow vegetables, such as pumpkin and carrots, as well as cruciferous vegetables such as broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower and brussels sprouts can all be helpful in the prevention of heart disease and certain cancers.
Vegetables should be lightly steamed or eaten raw for the best nutritional value.
Avoid over cooking or adding sugar to vegetables.
Fruits that have the lowest impact on blood sugar are berries, apples, pears and apricots. Banana’s and grapes have the highest sugar content so should be eaten in moderation.
Combining fruits with healthy fats or proteins can also slow the absorption of sugars so try adding a handful of nuts to your fruit snacks.
Listen to my interview with Brad Kirsten from Radio Cape Pulpit on 30 July 2020 to learn more.
Listen to my next interview on Thursday at 7.45am