Fruits and vegetables are foods of plant origin, consumed in large quantities worldwide. They are a source of vitamins, minerals, fiber and all the micronutrients and macronutrients we need for our body to function properly.

In the following article we will talk about fruits and vegetables, what exactly they are, what are the differences between them and what are the existing benefits, as well as a recommendation on the healthiest.

What are fruits and vegetables?

Fruits and vegetables are a diverse range of perishable products, which require great attention to their production, collection and consumption. They do not have a strictly accepted and delimited definition, but are mainly considered as the edible parts of plants.

To highlight: The consumption of fruits and vegetables is directly related to the reduction of the risk of contracting or developing certain types of diseases, in the same way that studies have shown the same result in vegetarian diets. (1)

What is the difference between fruits and vegetables?

The main difference between fruits and vegetables is the method they have to reproduce , in addition to the nature of their essence in general. By this we mean that fruits proceed through pollination and fertilization , creating a layer that covers the seeds, while vegetables are parts of the plant such as roots, stems, and leaves.

Note: The fruit is considered the fertilized ovary of the plant , creating a protective cover with pulp that covers the seeds and that people consume as food and a source of vitamins and minerals.

What are the health benefits of fruits and vegetables?

Thanks to the nature and origin of these food products, fruits and vegetables possess and confer a large number of benefits to their consumers. They will be mentioned and explained below:

1. They provide essential nutrients for the body

Both fruits and vegetables are foods with great nutritional value for their consumers. They have proteins, carbohydrates, fiber , vitamins and minerals, even in a few percentages they are capable of providing healthy fats .

To highlight: They favor a nutritious and healthy diet, in addition to allowing us to have a balanced diet due to its great variety. The World Health Organization (WHO) recommends the consumption of at least 400 grams of fruits and vegetables daily to obtain all the benefits and nutrients necessary for the consumer’s health. (two)

2. They strengthen the immune system

The nutritional components of fruits and vegetables have the ability to strengthen the immune system and therefore benefit the responses obtained. The bioactive components influence the cellular activity of the organism and defense mechanisms.

You should know: Carotenoids and polyphenols are the main bioactive compounds present in fruits and vegetables that influence this benefit, having protective and preventive effects on cell oxidation.

3. They prevent chronic and degenerative diseases

The consumption of fruits and vegetables is intrinsically related to the reduction of the risk of chronic and degenerative diseases, mainly due to the components and benefits they confer. 

Note: The wide variety of fruits and vegetables have different capacities, especially depending on their nature and nutritional composition, but the presence of bioactive components, vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants are the reason for their ability to protect the body. (3)

4. They improve digestive functions

The main reason for this ability is due to the source of fiber that fruits and vegetables mean. They allow the favoring of the intestinal flora and the prevention of constipation, depending on the nature of the fiber, whether it is soluble or insoluble.

Important: The consumption of fruits and vegetables also reduces the risk of suffering from diverticulosis, gas and diarrhea, in addition to providing large amounts of water, which also greatly favors the digestion process. (4)

5. They promote cognitive performance

The consumption of fruits and vegetables seems to be highly related to the reduction of deterioration in cognitive performance, also allowing a favoring thanks to the micronutrients and bioactive components that they provide. 

To highlight: A study carried out with more than one hundred patients of at least 75 years of age, determined an increase in the concentration of people thanks to the intervention of lutein, which is a carotenoid present in different products of vegetable origin and present in high concentrations in the human brain. (5)

6. They strengthen bones and muscles

In a study carried out with more than 140,000 people, they analyzed the effect of the consumption of fruits and vegetables with the prevention of broken bones, mainly of the hip in elderly individuals. Said study determined that the risk is 12% more when these foods are not included in the daily diet. (6)

You should know: The presence of antioxidants and photochemical components protect and reduce existing risks over time, reaching, through scientific studies, stimuli for the constant and responsible consumption of fruits and vegetables.

7. Increase performance and physical energy

Although they are not an important source of energy, due to the fact that they are foods rich in water concentrations, in many cases they are carriers of carbohydrates, which allow energy storage and therefore an increase in the physical performance of consumers.

Note: Vegetables provide 4.0% of the average energy intake and fruits 4.7% of it. They are low in calories but a very significant contribution of fiber and sugars. (7)

8. They improve the health of the eyes, skin, hair and nails

Thanks to its contribution of micronutrients, bioactive components and antioxidants, the health of eyesight, skin, hair and nails is incredibly benefited. In addition to that, its components also allow the increase in collagen production , which continues to favor the objective. (8)

What are the healthiest fruits and vegetables?

Among the wide variety of fruits and vegetables that exist, there is a classification where the healthiest and most beneficial stand out. These are mentioned below to allow their recognition and use:

1. Red fruits

Red fruits (strawberries, blackberries, raspberries, blueberries) are rich in lycopene, which precisely gives them their characteristic red color, in addition to the presence of high levels of carotenoids. 

They usually have an unmatched antioxidant capacity and therefore allow the slowing down and prevention of cellular oxidation, as well as benefiting the immune system and caring for the skin , cardiovascular health, as well as having anti-inflammatory properties.

2. Citrus fruits

Citrus fruits (lemon, orange, tangerine, grapefruit) are characterized by their high concentrations of vitamin C and antioxidants , as well as being rich in beta-carotene, vitamin A and folic acid. 

Note: They allow us to keep our cells firm and healthy, in addition to protecting us from many diseases, including cancer.

3. Avocado

Avocado , according to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), is considered a green classification fruit that has large amounts of phytochemicals with anticancer properties.

To highlight: It contains unsaturated fats and therefore benefits blood cholesterol levels, as well as being easy to digest and very complete on a nutritional level. (9)

4. Green leafy vegetables

Green leafy vegetables (spinach, lettuce, cabbage, broccoli, chard) are widely used for salad recipes , they confer a large number of benefits and health care, in addition to having medicinal properties and the presence of carotenoids and vitamin K . 

Note: They reduce the risks of coronary and cardiovascular diseases, in addition to a 12% decrease in suffering from lung cancer, in people who are smokers. (10)

5. Root and tuber vegetables 

Root and tuber vegetables are no less important, on the contrary, they have great particularities in their composition , allowing a balanced and balanced diet with important nutritional contributions. 

To highlight: They are usually rich in carbohydrates, fibers, vitamins and minerals , with little contribution in water concentrations and low energy contribution (11) . Some of the healthiest are: beets, carrots , potatoes, sweet potatoes , radishes, among others. 

Key Findings

  • Fruits and vegetables are foods of plant origin with an immense variety and nutritional quality.
  • The difference between these two large groups is focused on the method of reproduction and the origin of the edible part.
  • They confer a large number of benefits, starting from the strengthening of our immune system, digestive functions, among others. 
  • They are important foods to allow the diet to be balanced and balanced.
  • In the nutritional aspect, fruits and vegetables include a contribution of all macronutrients and micronutrients, as well as bioactive and antioxidant components.

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