Fruits and vegetables are one of the most underatted classes of food in most parts of the world. Probably because some people do not it as filling as other classes of food especially the carbohydrates. They are naturally very healthy for consumption and can help combat various forms of ailments in the body including cancers, diabetes and obesity due to their richness in vitamins and minerals. They are also beneficial to the body both internally and externally and can be consumed as meals, part of meals or in a liquid state as a juice.
Fruits and Vegetables consist mainly of plants or parts of plants which can be consumed by humans and other animals. This includes the leaves, flowers, fruits, stem, roots /tubers and seeds. They can be used for culinary and non -culinary purposes. They can be cooked or consumed raw.
Types / Classification of fruits and vegetables.
This is a broad topic on its own however I’ll try to summarise it as much as possible for the purpose of this article.
Fruits and Vegetables can be classified based on their biological groups, what parts are eaten, nutrients they possess and also their color.
Fruits can be classified based on whether they are
Fleshy : These include Drupes, Berries, Pomes and Pepos, or
Dry : These include Follicles, Legumes, Capsules, Nuts, Achenes, Samaras, Caryopses and Scizocarps.
Based on what parts are consumed; Vegetables can also be classified into Seeds, Stems, Roots, Tubers Leaves Fungi Bulb or Flowers.
Colors and their benefits.
For some other reasons fruits and vegetables can also be classified based on colour, fruits and vegetables of similar colours have been observed to possess similar characteristics and also have similar effects on general well being. For instance
Red foods – are known to prevent heart related diseases prostate cancer.
Green foods – help prevent aging and eye diseases.
Blue Purple and White foods – also help prevent cancers.
Orange and Yellow – helps maintain mucus membrane and healthy eyes.
Brown and White – helps prevent against antifungal and antibacterial illnesses.
Essential Vitamins in fruits and vegetables
There are a lot of reasons to include fruits and vegetables in our regular diets, for one they are low in fat and calories and contains essential vitamins for the body, they are often also rich in fibre and phyto chemicals.
Here are some essential vitamins also present in them:
Potassium helps maintain blood pressure
Folate helps form red blood cells
Vitamin A improves eyesight
Vitamin C and Calcium are essential for growth, repair and healing of body tissues they also help maintain teeth.
Iron maintains blood supply in the body.
Magnesium helps maintain healthy bones and muscles.
Examples of commonly consumed vegetables.
While certain fruits are more available and popular in different parts of the world, some fruits are more commonly found in over 80% of areas in the world. Hence they can be easily picked up in markets, these include pineapples, App9le, watermelons, paw paw, berries, mangoes, bananas, plantain, oranges, avocados, plum.
In Nigeria we have some common leaves which are popularly known for preparing vegetable soups and can easily be cultivated or purchased. They include :
Bitter leaves African spinach (tete), green vegetable (shoko), water leaves (gbure), eggplant leaves (igbo), spinach (amunututu), basil leaves (efinrin), balogi (ebolo), pumpkin leaves (ugu), cocoyam leaves (ewe koko), jute leaves (ewedu),
Other commonly used vegetables include,
Tomatoes, onions, cucumbers, potatoes, carrots, lettuce, broccoli, cabbage, bell peppers, garlic, eggplant, kale, celery, cauliflower, peas, asparagus, maize, radish, corn, chilli,okra.
Essential benefits of fruits and vegetables.
There are lots of health and beauty benefits to be derived from the consumption of fruits and vegetables. We’ll highlight a few.
Helps boost the immune system.
Helps fight diseases.
Reduces effect of aging.
Reduce risk of cancer and diabetes.
Boosts energy level.
Aids digestion and bowel movements.
Keeps your skin looking fresh.
Great for diet plans.
Contraindications of consumption.
As important as it is to include a healthy dose of fruits and vegetables into our diet, just like most foods over indulgence or over consumption may lead to one or more of the following side effects.
Inability to lose weight.