Why are fruit and vegetables healthy?
Do you already raise your nose at the thought of sprouts? Do you feel like a rabbit when eating carrots and would you rather slide the green beans into your napkin? Think about that more carefully next time. Fruit and vegetables are an important supplier of dietary fiber, vitamins and minerals. Research shows that fruit and vegetables have a positive effect on your health. In addition, fruits and vegetables provide few calories, so this can certainly help you lose the pounds. When we eat fewer calories in a day than we burn, your weight will decrease. This allows us to eat more fruit and vegetables without the guilt of consuming too many calories.
But beware, don't eat fruit all at once! Fruit also contains carbohydrates. If your body does not need all these carbohydrates, your body will store this as fat. Further on you can read how much fruit you could eat in a responsible manner in a day.
Which fruit is the healthiest?
There is only one answer to this: all types of fresh fruit are healthy. No distinction can be made here. There is no fruit that contains all vitamins and minerals. Therefore, vary plenty from the following types in order to get all the nutrients enough:
- Soft fruit such as berries, strawberries and grapes
- Stone fruits such as cherries, apricots, plums, peaches, nectarines, coconut and olives
- Pit fruit, such as apples and pears
- Citrus fruit, such as oranges, lemons and mandarins
- Other exotic fruits, such as bananas, kiwis and pineapples
1. Dried fruit
Dried fruit is rich in dietary fiber, but contains fewer vitamins than fresh fruit. During drying some important nutrients are lost such as vitamin C and moisture. Due to the loss of moisture, the sugar concentration per dried fruit becomes a lot higher than in fresh fruit. You can easily get a lot of sugar with dried fruit. You also eat more quickly than fresh fruit. Therefore limit this to a maximum of 1 hand (25 g) per day and therefore do not see it as an alternative to fresh fruit. Are you going for a nice day of walking or cycling? Then a handful of dried fruit is the perfect boost for on the road.
2. Canned fruit
Canned fruit is pasteurized and is sometimes stored on its own juice. Pasteurized means that the product is heated to a temperature below 100 ° C, whereby most pathogenic microorganisms are killed. This allows the shelf life of the product to be extended. But pay attention! Canned fruit can also be in syrup. Extra sugar is then added to this. Consequence? More calories and fewer vitamins and minerals. The advice to eat enough fruit per day applies especially to fresh, pre-cut fruit and fruit from the freezer. Fruit on its own canned juice can be varied but is not preferred.
3. Fresh fruit juices and smoothies
I often get the question if that fresh fruit juices and smoothies are healthy. If we compare this with fresh fruit, the fruit juices contain less fiber and more sugar than fresh fruit. Example ... To make a glass of fresh gravy you need at least 2-3 oranges to squeeze. You actually only squeeze the sugar water from the fruit. The fibers still remain in the skin. You often drank such a glass of fresh gravy within a few minutes and gives a feeling of fullness less quickly than eating the 2-3 oranges as a whole. In most cases you would have enough to eat 1 orange in its entirety. This also applies to a smoothie made from fruit. Often more pieces of fruit go in here than you would eat in this way. When eating a piece of fresh fruit, your blood sugar level will also rise less quickly. This is because the fibers in a piece of fresh fruit slow the absorption of sugars in your diet. This means you will be saturated for longer and you will have fewer moments of pulling or vibrating moments. So avoid fresh fruit juices as an alternative to fresh fruit.
Another example ... In 1 glass of apple juice or orange juice from the store there are on average about 7 lumps of sugar. This corresponds to 1 glass of soda, for example a glass of cola, the regular with sugar! Although fruit juice contains natural sugars from fruit and soft drinks and added sugars, these sugars have the same calorie value, because every gram of carbohydrates provides 4 calories. Do you drink too much fruit juice? Then your body stores this excess of calories and you arrive. For this reason too, fruit juices are no alternative to a portion of fruit.
Moreover, they are not good for your teeth. Fruit and fruit juices contain acids that can attack the tooth enamel. When eating fresh fruit as a whole, you chew, causing your saliva to make. This saliva provides a buffer that flushes out the acids faster. If you limit the number of eating and drinking moments in a day to a maximum of 7, the tooth enamel will have sufficient time to recover.
4. Healthy snack
Fruit is a healthy snack for adults or children. But it is better to give the fruit whole or in pieces, than to give your children a packet of squeezed fruit or slurp fruit or other drinkable fruit.
First the good news: pureed fruit, such as squeezed or slurp fruit, often only contains fruit without added sugar. Yet there is also a disadvantage. Drinking fruit is less likely to fill you up than when you eat it. This is because you don't have to chew and drink it quickly. This can cause your child to get a lot of natural sugars, and therefore calories, unnoticed, while he or she does not become saturated with it. That is why the advice applies: let your child eat his fruit instead of drinking.
5. Jar of Jam
Less than half of the jars of jam nowadays consist of fruit. Because of this you cannot regard this as fruit. You can say that it is a jar of added sugar instead of fruit. The diet jam or the jam with a lowered sugar content (light) is also not suitable because only a little fruit has been added in these jars. The sugar in this is often replaced by sweetener, yet they often still contain a lot of calories due to the natural sugars from the fruit used in the jam.
Which vegetable is the healthiest?
Here too there is only one answer: everyone! No distinction can be made here. There is also no vegetable type that contains all vitamins and minerals. Therefore, vary widely from the following species in order to get all the nutrients sufficiently:
- Leafy vegetables: endive, lettuce, spinach, lamb's lettuce, iceberg lettuce, turnip greens, turnip greens, purslane.
- Fruit vegetables: zucchini, cucumber, bell pepper, pumpkin, tomatoes, eggplant, sweet corn, avocado, artichoke.
- Root vegetables: beetroot, carrots, carrots, celeriac, radishes, winter carrots, kohlrabi, salsify, parsnip, rettich.
- Cabbage types: cauliflower, kale, broccoli, Chinese cabbage, kohlrabi, red cabbage, savoy cabbage, pointed cabbage, white cabbage, Brussels sprouts, bok choy.
- Onions: onion, garlic, spring onion, leek.
- Stem crops: celery, fennel, asparagus, artichoke, rhubarb, bamboo.
- Vegetable sprouts: bean sprouts, cress.
- Other vegetables: chicory, mushrooms, mushrooms and the vegetables that fall under the botanical legumes: peas, capuchins, stockings, pods, string beans, green beans, broad beans.
I often get the question whether that (sweet) potatoes fall under vegetables. Just like a pumpkin and legumes, these varieties fall outside the scope of vegetables due to their different nutritional value or use. If we compare the sweet potato with the normal potato, there is not much difference in this. The sweet potato contains approximately as many carbohydrates as the regular potato. Only the sweet potato contains more vitamin A, hence the orange color! So even in a low-carb diet you can leave the sweet potato, pumpkin and legumes better.
1. Vegetable juice
Vegetable juice does not count towards the daily portion of vegetables. Vegetable juice usually contains smaller amounts of fiber, vitamin C, folic acid (B11) and other (bioactive) substances than those that are naturally present in vegetables. For example, extra salt and / or sugar is often added to these juices. For example with tomato juice, 9 out of 10 times extra salt has been added and in some cases also extra sugar.
2. Freshly pureed vegetable soup
Making your own soup is naturally delicious and also a healthy choice! Bear in mind that these soups must contain at least 40 grams of (fresh) vegetables per 100 ml of soup in order to see it as a substitute for vegetables. Fresh soup made from a base of onion, garlic, the fresh vegetables of your choice, 1 stock cube in 1 liter of water is of course already delicious. No extra salt or more broth has to be added. If we compare this home-made soup with canned soups from the supermarket, they often contain a lot of salt and sugar is sometimes added to these soups. Do you still taste the vegetables? For example, tomato soup from a can or pack, this soup can sometimes contain more than 250 sugar cubes per cup of soup of 4 ml.
3. Pickled vegetables
This type of vegetable is often sold in a pot. To keep it longer, extra sugar and / or salt are often added. These are just two nutrients that we get enough in one day by eating other foods. In order not to exceed this limit, this vegetable is not on the preferred side. You can eat this to a limited extent but cannot be compared to fresh vegetables.
4. Vegetable chips
Vegetable chips, it sounds healthy but unfortunately I have to disappoint enthusiasts. Vegetable chips are no healthier for you than regular chips. Both types contain a lot of calories and salt. Vegetable chips contain just as much fat as potato chips. About a third of chips consists of fat. So you quickly get too many calories with chips. Every gram of fat already yields 9 kcal. Just like in normal chips, there is a lot of salt in vegetable chips, about 1,25 grams per 100 grams. The advice is to get a maximum of 6 grams per day. Most people in the Netherlands already get too much salt and that can raise blood pressure.
Finally, some of the vitamins from vegetables are lost as a result of frying. Vegetable chips such as beet, carrot, parsnip and sweet potato naturally contain sugar. By frying, the product loses moisture, so that the vegetable chips contain much more sugar per 100 grams than you would eat this vegetable fresh.
SHORT: Eat especially fresh vegetables and frozen vegetables without additives. Do not use too much salt, broth and fat when you prepare them. Also be careful with cream or a sauce with the vegetables. Say, the pure taste of vegetables is tasty enough, isn't it ?!
How much fruit and vegetables does the body need?
Especially fruit and vegetables play a major role in a healthy diet. More than half of the Netherlands receives too little fruit and vegetables every day. How much should you eat per day? Since 2016, the guidelines for fruit and vegetables have been adjusted. For adults it is recommended to eat 2 pieces of fruit (200 grams) and 250 grams of vegetables daily. For children there are other guidelines for this. This differs per age category.
But suppose you don't like vegetables but rather fruit, can you also exchange this for each other? Fruit and vegetables differ because they contain different types and quantities of nutrients. They are therefore not exchangeable. For example, fruit contains more sugars. The advice is therefore to eat 2 pieces of fruit and 250 grams of vegetables every day. This way you get a rich mix of vitamins, minerals and other substances such as antioxidants.
Recommended amounts of fruit
There is plenty to taste in the fruit department: juicy pears, a sour apple, sweet strawberries etc. But not all types of fruit are the same size. Is 1 piece also 1 portion of fruit? Or how many grapes can you eat? Below a number of examples which equals 1 portion of fruit:
- 1 small apple, pear or banana
- 1 orange, grapefruit, peach, nectarine, mango etc.
- 10 grapes
- 100 grams of strawberries or berries such as raspberries, blueberries, blackberries etc.
- 1 slice of fresh pineapple
- 2 mandarins, small plums, kiwis, fresh apricots, or figs
- 2 handfuls of cherries (125 g)
- An eighth of a melon
For health reasons, have you been advised by the dietitian or doctor to start eating less carbohydrates? Always keep the quantities and types of fruit as advised. There is a big difference in fruit types. An apple is on average 15 to 20 grams of carbohydrates while strawberries are the fruit with the least amount of carbohydrates. 100 grams of strawberries contains only 5 grams of carbohydrates.
Tips for eating more fruit
- Fruit is an ideal snack! Choose a fixed time of the day to take your fruit. As a snack in the course of the morning or instead of a dessert such as double custard, take a piece of fruit and do not take this immediately after dinner but a little later in the evening, so as a snack.
- Also see fruit as an option for sandwich spreads. For example, put slices of banana or strawberries on your sandwich. Without sugar of course! Or top it with slices of nectarine, kiwi or peach. This way you can still choose a sweet topping without immediately getting all kinds of added sugars.
- Do you start your breakfast every day with a bowl of cottage cheese or yogurt and breakfast cereals with no added sugar ?! Then simply add a piece of fruit! Then you already have 1 piece of fruit every day as standard.
- You can easily stock frozen fruit so that you always have fruit at home.
- Fruit is also very tasty to add to a salad. For example, add some blueberries, kiwi or strawberries to a salad.
- You can also easily add fruit to dinner. Such as an apple with Brussels sprouts or a mango through the brown rice.
Recommended quantities of vegetables
That is very nicely said as the 250 grams of vegetables per day. But do we know what and how much we have to eat to get this daily? Below some examples for your daily portion of 250 grams:
- 1 tomato + 5 tablespoons of cooked carrots
- 1 sprout of raw chicory + 5 tablespoons of steamed leeks
- 1 small plate of lettuce + 5 slices of tomato + 2 tablespoons of cucumbers + 4 tablespoons of cooked string beans
- 1 sandwich with lettuce, slices of tomato and cucumber (about 50 g) + 10 tablespoons of red cabbage with the hot meal
- 8 cherry tomatoes (100 g) + 4 tablespoons cauliflower and broccoli + 1 bowl of vegetable soup
Tips for eating more vegetables
- Consider your vegetables. Perhaps you had the idea that there was not enough vegetables on your plate, but the amount is reasonably close to 250 grams per day.
- Spread the vegetables over the day. Think of strips of peppers or slices of cucumber on bread, snack tomatoes or carrots for on the road, a salad, fresh soup or raw vegetables for lunch, leftovers of vegetables through your omelet and of course also a portion of vegetables for dinner. That way you don't have to eat all vegetables at once.
- You can prepare vegetables in many ways: raw, cooking, steaming, baking, stir-frying, grilling, mashing. This way you make vegetable food even more varied.
- For a hot meal, first fill half of your plate with vegetables.
- Add vegetables to your sandwich meal: for example a plate of raw vegetables or a bowl of fresh soup. Every extra portion of vegetables is a plus!
- Nibble vegetables or take freshly made soup that is left over from the previous day as a snack.
- Pre-cut vegetables are ideal for when you have limited time. Also make sure that you always have frozen vegetables at home. Then you never have to eat a meal without vegetables, even when there was no time left for the supermarket.
- Vegetables from pots or cans are also an alternative. But always check the ingredients to see if any sugar or salt has been added.
- Alternate as much as possible in your vegetable types. Put all the colors of the rainbow on your plate: this way you get all the useful nutrients from various vegetables and you will also eat a vegetable less quickly.
- Look at the packaging to see how many grams of vegetables you add to your meal. Is this too little for the number of people who share the meal? Then add more vegetables.
Food safety of fruit and vegetables
How we treat our fruit and vegetables can affect our health. Are pesticides dangerous? Do we therefore always have to peel our fruit and vegetables first? Are there any toxins or harmful substances in fruit and vegetables? And nitrate, which we've all heard of, what does that do to our food health?
Pesticides are used to dislodge vermin in order to protect fruit and vegetables. Remains of pesticides may then remain. There are so few that they are not harmful to health. The Dutch Food and Consumer Product Safety Authority strictly monitors this. Many pesticides also extend beyond the skin. It is therefore not necessary to peel your fruit and vegetables for use. Usually, the pesticides are already broken down when the fruit is in stores. The fibers often contain the most fibers. Fibers are important in giving a feeling of satiety and are also healthy for the intestines. Because of this we can often go to the toilet better. Also, the pesticides often cannot be washed off. However, washing is important to remove dirt and dust in order to prevent health risks. With organic fruit and vegetables, the grower only uses pesticides of natural origin, but organic has nothing to do with being healthier. Organic is purely related to the fact that it is better for the environment. More information about this later.
Poison or harmful substances
Some vegetables naturally contain very small amounts of natural toxins. This is in such small amounts that they are not harmful to health. The chance is therefore small that you will ingest too many of these natural toxins. For example, green tomatoes contain the natural toxin tomatine. The green parts of potatoes contain the natural toxin solanine. It is better not to eat these green parts and it is best to cut them away. The green spots on potatoes can develop if you keep them in a bright room for too long. Always keep your squeakers in a dark place as much as possible. This substance solanine is also found in raw eggplant, for example. It is best to heat this vegetable before it is on your plate.
It is better not to eat some vegetables raw because of the natural toxins. Examples are mushrooms and green beans. Raw mushrooms contain the toxic agaritine. It is not clear to what extent this substance is harmful. The food center indicates that a few slices of raw mushroom, for example in a salad, cannot hurt. By heating mushrooms and / or storing them in the refrigerator, the amount of agaritin decreases.
Citrus fruits, such as oranges and lemons, are sensitive to fungi. They are therefore treated with antifungal agents such as biphenyl. Some residues of this may remain on the skin. In addition, the usual lemons (not organic) are often treated with a layer of wax or shellac after harvest to give the lemons a nice shine so that they look better when they are in the store. This layer is not suitable for consumption. It is therefore always advisable to wash the fruit well before using lemon or orange zest.
Nitrate is a substance that occurs naturally in vegetables. This can be converted to nitrite during preparation or storage. Research from 2014 shows that when eating nitrate-rich vegetables the health risks are negligible. It used to be said that spinach (nitrate-rich vegetables) should not be eaten in combination with fish. With current knowledge, this is nowadays permitted and therefore has no consequences for health. This also applies to warming up spinach. After the first preparation, it is important that you leave the spinach left to cool quickly and store in a refrigerator at 4 ° C. In this way, bacteria that produce nitrite are less likely to grow. Do not store leftovers in the fridge for longer than 2 days. Furthermore, there is no restrictive advice for eating nitrate-rich vegetables. Other vegetables rich in nitrates are: endive, beetroot, chard, celery, Chinese cabbage, kohlrabi, pak choi, purslane, turnip greens, watercress, all types of lettuce, spinach, pointed cabbage and fennel.
Is organic fruit and vegetables healthier?
In general, organic products and non-organic products are just as healthy and safe. In the production of organic food, the environment and animal welfare are taken into account as much as possible. Various rules define what is meant by this. There is a strict check that the regulations for the 'organic' label are being complied with.
What is the best way to store fruit and vegetables?
The taste and structure of fruit and vegetables already changes a few hours after harvesting. How quickly this deteriorates differs per vegetable and fruit. It is advisable to keep fresh fruit and vegetables for no longer than 2 to 5 days. Then all nutrients are better preserved. Pre-cut fruit and vegetables are best eaten the same day and otherwise stored in the refrigerator that day. If you can't eat it quickly, freezing, preserving or pickling in acid is an option to keep it longer. The disadvantage of preserving (tin / glass) and pickling in acid is that salt and sugar are often added.The Freezing itself does not have a major negative effect on the vitamin content of foods. But some types of fruit and vegetables are blanched before freezing. Blanching is a cooking technique in which it is boiled for a short time after which it is immediately rinsed with cold water so that the cooking process is interrupted in order to eliminate enzymes that cause deterioration in quality. This blanching can cause a loss (15 to 20%) of vitamin C.
When defrosting, water-soluble vitamins (vitamins B and C) will be lost in addition to the loss of water. When freezing and thawing pureed or finely chopped food, many more vitamins are lost than with unprocessed food. During the storage of frozen food, the vitamins are generally well preserved, provided that the package is airtight.
- Remove fruit and vegetables from the fridge as soon as they have mold. Even if only one spot is visible. Mold can easily spread and is not always visible. Beurse spots in the fruit, due to falling or bumping, can be cut away. The rest of the fruit is still edible.
- Keep the refrigerator clean to prevent mold.
- Do not store fruit and vegetables in sealed plastic bags, but in moisture and air permeable paper or just an open bag or on the fruit platter. This prevents damage and dehydration.
- It is best to keep most types of fruit and vegetables in the fridge, unless it is tropical fruit. The loss of quality is then slower. Fruit that is not well ripe will taste better outside the fridge. Fruit vegetables such as tomatoes, peppers and cucumbers should not be stored in the refrigerator, because cold decay will occur.
- Store tropical fruits originally outside the refrigerator. This applies, for example, to pineapples and bananas, mangoes and papayas. In the refrigerator, these fruits get watery spots in the skin, making it rot faster.
- Soft fruits, such as strawberries, berries, blackberries and raspberries, have a short shelf life. Storage is best done in the refrigerator in a paper bag. Strawberries, raspberries, cherries and the like have a better shelf life if the crown and stalk are not removed.
- Store different types of fruit and vegetables separately, for example by putting them in a sealed paper bag. Apples, bananas, pears and peaches produce a lot of ethylene. This is a substance that promotes maturation. Other fruits are sensitive to this and can spoil faster. For example, an avocado ripens faster if you place it with a ripe banana. This can sometimes also work to his advantage.
Is there a difference between raw and cooked vegetables?
What is the healthiest: cooked vegetables or raw vegetables? On the one hand, vitamins are very sensitive to heat. Vegetables lose between 20 and 50% of the vitamins during cooking. Therefore, the advice is not to cook vegetables in just a small layer of water for longer than necessary. Boiling potatoes in water so that they are just under is more than enough instead of filling the entire pan. This really does not make the cooking process any faster! It is advisable to heat canned or pot vegetables briefly until the water boils and cook frozen vegetables with a little water according to the instructions on the package. You can also limit this vitamin loss by good storage or cooking techniques such as steaming. On the other hand, you have to cook certain vegetables before you can eat them. Certain healthy substances are only released when you cook or crush them. This has to do with the cell wall structure that breaks open due to heat so that you can better absorb certain bioactive substances such as lycopene (tomato) and glucosinolate (coal). So you better absorb the nutrients of a tomato when it is heated. It is therefore best to alternate cooked vegetables and raw vegetables. For example, take some radishes, cucumber or snack tomatoes with your sandwich or as a snack. And eat cooked vegetables with your hot meal.
Are salads healthy?
Salads are a tasty and healthy alternative to get your portion of vegetables or raw vegetables, provided that the lettuce does not float in the dressing. The dressing is often the pitfall. These contain a lot of fats and / or sugars ready-made from the store, which means that that healthy salad is suddenly no longer as healthy. This also applies to the trays of sliced raw vegetables or ready-made meal salads from the store. These portions often come with a generous amount of dressing. You can easily make a delicious dressing yourself with seasonings such as low-fat cottage cheese, mustard, vinegar and a little salt and pepper. Tip: if you are going to make a dressing for your salad, immediately make a larger quantity and store it in a small jar in the refrigerator. This will certainly last a week. You can also take it directly to work.
How healthy is the Avocado?
Avocado is a fruit vegetable. It is classified as a vegetable because it is usually eaten as a vegetable. He therefore counts for the guideline of 250 grams of vegetables per day. Avocado, unlike other vegetables, contains a lot of fat. The fat in the avocado is mainly oleic acid, which is an unsaturated fat. With avocado you get good fats, just like with olive oil, fatty fish and notes. Because the avocado contains a lot of fat, it delivers a lot of calories. One avocado provides around 360 kcal and contains 35 grams of fat. Instead of eating a whole avocado at once, you can also use half or a quarter of avocado and save the rest in aluminum foil for the next day.