The nutritional value of fruits and vegetables cannot be stressed enough. These foods are highly recommended because of their high fibre, antioxidant and vitamin content. A diet with sufficient fibre is the foundation of a good digestive system while antioxidants prevent the onset of disease and delay signs of ageing.
As more studies on fruits and vegetables are published, the value of fruits and vegetables becomes even more evident - scientists have already identified about a thousand phytochemicals.
Phytochemicals are plant compounds found in fruits and vegetables that serve to protect plants from microorganisms and plant disease. When taken in by humans, these phytochemicals also provide a wide range of health benefits for being anti-inflammatory, anti-allergenic, anti-ageing, anti-microbial, and for boosting the immune system.
Certain fruits and vegetables have been singled out as your best bets against cancer and heart disease, such as tomatoes for their heart-friendly lycopene content and carrots for their cancer-fighting beta carotene. Consult a nutrionist for advice selecting fruits and vegetables to boost your health.
Fruits and vegetables are best obtained and consumed while they are in season - here's why:
The phytochemical content of fruits and vegetables varies depending on the season. Phytochemicals are so highly active that they are said to give plants their colour, flavour, odour and protection against plant diseases. The richer and livelier the colour of your fruit or vegetable, the higher is its phytochemical content.
When a fruit is in season, you know that it not only tastes great but that it also has more nutrients to share. Consume a colourful variety of fruits such as apples, avocados, oranges, berries, bananas, cherries and citrus fruits. Vegetables are not to be outdone - and especially good when in season are asparagus, beans, broccoli, cabbage, carrots, red and green bell pepper, cauliflower, eggplant, spinach, dark leafy greens and the 'fruit known as a vegetable' - the tomato.
Many have tried to isolate phytochemicals from plants and offer these in supplement form hoping to provide the same nutrients to those who do not have access to or are unable to eat certain fruits and vegetables. Unfortunately, much has to be improved in the process of extracting phytochemicals because the health-giving potential of these compounds seem to be less when removed from their natural sources.
The same reason is cited by proponents of the raw food diet who teach their followers that it is best to consume fruits and vegetables in their natural state and when they are most abundant, or in as close to their natural state as is possible.
The Law of Supply and Demand works to your advantage when fruits are in season. As the supply of plant-based products increases, the price of fruits and vegetables decreases. Producers and sellers also choose to lower their selling prices because of the perishable nature of fruits and vegetables. They would rather dispose their produce at lower prices than be stuck with a huge volume of rotten food.
The best time to buy fruits and vegetables is when they are in season. You not only reap all the health-giving nutrients found in them but you also do so without breaking your budget.