June is National Fresh Fruit and Vegetables Month
Get your fruit and veggies on!
Today it’s easier than ever to have year-round access to fresh fruits and vegetables thanks to the availability of seasonal produce and farmers markets, as well as national and local supermarkets who import fresh fruits and vegetables from around the globe, all year long.
Despite the ready access to fresh fruits and vegetables, Canadian adult consumption of fruits and vegetables have decreased in the past 5 years (2014 Health Canada Survey). And in the past year, the Food Institute reports more Canadians are choosing frozen over fresh vegetables and fruits.
Our son is learning that healthy tastes good by growing vegetables and fruits in our own garden.
Key nutrients in fruits and vegetables
Root Vegetables (carrots, potatoes, beets, sweet potatoes, yams, turnips, parsnips etc.)
- Potassium, fibre, vitamin C, carbohydrates
- Orange, yellow, and red roots have high concentrations of beta-carotene and other antioxidants associated with a decrease in cancer and heart disease.
Allium vegetables (onion, garlic)
- Organosulfur compounds (allylic sulfides) inhibit blood clotting, reduce blood cholesterol levels, and lower the risk of some cancers.
- Vitamin C, potassium, and trace minerals.
Cruciferous veggies (broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, radishes, turnips etc.)
- Carotenoids – cancer preventative compound found in deep green and red varieties
- Vitamin C, magnesium, potassium, vitamin K, fibre
- Indoles – lower cholesterol levels and protect against cancer – especially breast cancer
Squash (zucchini, yellow/acorn/spaghetti/butternut, pumpkin)
- Deep yellow and orange varieties like pumpkin, butternut, and acorn squash are rich in carotenoids.
- Potassium, B-vitamins, vitamin C, folic acid, fibre, and carbohydrates.
Peppers (sweet bell peppers and hot peppers)
- Vitamin C, minerals, fibre
- Red and green peppers contain carotenoids
- Hot peppers contain capsaicin – lowers cholesterol etc.
- In general the riper (redder) varieties are higher in nutrients than the unripe (greener) varieties.
Greens (Romaine Lettuce, leaf lettuce, spinach, kale, arugula, dandelion greens etc.)
- The deeper the green the better nutrient density!
- Beta-carotene, fibre, calcium, iron, vitamin C, vitamin K
- Folic acid – reduces the risk of heart disease and neural tube birth defects
- Spinach is high in lutein – slows macular degeneration of the eye
Fruits (tomatoes, strawberries, raspberries, saskatoons etc.)
- Tomatoes and tomato based products (bruschetta, salsa, canned stewed tomatoes, tomato sauce) contain lycopene which reduces the risk of prostate, lung, stomach, breast and colon cancer.
- Berries are especially high in phytochemicals including cancer preventative carotenoids and are some of the highest fibre fruits around. Soluble fibre in berries help to reduce cholesterol.
Whether you buy fresh fruits and vegetables at your local farmer’s market or grocery store, or grow them in your own yard, there’s no substitute for the benefits and taste of fresh fruit and vegetables.
More Information on the Benefits of Vegetables and Fruits
- 6 Ways to Get More Veggies in Your Diet
- 3 Ways to Make Your Veggies and Fruit Stay Fresher Longer
- Spring Nutrition: Grow Your Veggies!