The UN General Assembly designated 2021 the International Year of Fruits and Vegetables (IYFV). The IYFV 2021 is a unique opportunity to raise awareness on the important role of fruits and vegetables in human nutrition, food security and health and in achieving UN Sustainable Development Goals.
World Fruits Day falls on July 1st. Why does it even matter to us and really how important are fruits and vegetables in our daily diet? Let us embark on this journey to learn some key facts centered around fruits and vegetables. 🥦🍎
🔑Key fact #1
Better gut health. A diet rich in fruit, vegetables and other high-fibre, plant-based foods improves gut bacteria diversity and tends to increase bacteria associated with anti-inflammatory compounds linked to improved metabolism. Higher consumption of fruit and vegetables has also been shown to decrease the prevalence of diverticulosis as well as other digestive problems such as gas, constipation and diarrhoea (Klimenko et al., 2018; Maxner et al., 2020).
🔑Key fact #2
Fruits and vegetables can help lower risk factors for non-communicable diseases, such as overweight/obesity, chronic inflammation, high blood pressure, and high cholesterol.
🔑Key fact #3
Children’s growth and development. Fruit and vegetables are rich in Vitamin A, calcium, iron and folate, which can promote good health, strengthen a child’s immune system and help protect against disease, both now and in the future (Xin, 2016).
Now here comes the question for you. Are you eating enough fruits and vegetables? According to the Health Promotion Board, we learn that we ought to fill a quarter of our plates with wholegrains, another quarter with good sources of protein and half our plates with fruits and vegetables.
Why is that so, you may ask? Well, read on to find out.
Wholesome Wholegrain 🍞
Whole Grains are filled with vitamins B and E, minerals such as iron, zinc and magnesium, phytochemicals and dietary fibre. Eating wholegrains can help you with weight management by keeping you satiated, which reduces your urge to overeat. Having wholegrains can also help lower your risk of developing chronic diseases such as heart diseases, diabetes and certain cancers in the long run. An example of a single serving of whole grains could be 2 slices of wholemeal bread (60g), ⅔ bowl of whole grain noodles, beehoon or spaghetti (100g), ½ bowl of brown or red rice (100g).
Power Protein 🍳
Protein sources are packed with vitamins and minerals such as iron, vitamin B and zinc. Fish also provide beneficial fats like Omega-3 fatty acids. Protein is the building block of almost everything in your body. It helps to build and repair body tissues and regulate bodily functions. It is essential in your diet to help keep your muscles, bones, organs, skin and nails healthy. A single serving of protein includes 1 palm size of meat, fish or poultry (90g), 2 small blocks of small beancurd (170g), 3 eggs (150g).
Fabulous Fruits and Vegetables 🍎 🥦
Fruit and vegetables are naturally low in calories, fat and sodium. They are also rich in dietary fibre, vitamins, minerals, phytochemicals and antioxidants. A diet rich in fruit and vegetables helps you to fight against many diseases, e.g. heart diseases, stroke and certain cancers. The high water and fibre content helps to add volume and bulk to your meals to fill you up and minimises any urges to overeat and aid in bowel movement too. An example of a single serving of fruits and vegetables includes 1 small apple, orange, pear or mango (130g), 1 wedge of papaya, pineapple or watermelon (130g), 1 medium banana. For vegetables of 1 serving size, it would be 150g of raw leafy vegetables, 100g non raw leafy vegetables, ¼ round plate of cooked vegetables.
Having read that, why not start to slowly incorporate fruits and vegetables to your diet if you haven’t already done so? And if you have, good job!
Eating healthily doesn’t have to be difficult. All it takes is for you to get started! 😇