Water is the basis of the ideal food pyramid, which, as we can see below, should be integrated with some physical activity to reach the highest possible state of well-being in our everyday life.
Leaving this last part to individual preferences, I now want to direct the attention to the foods that contain the most water in their natural composition: fruits & vegetables.
The daily and varied consumption of these foods provides a significant contribution of nutrients to our body while allowing us to maintain the targeted number of calories in our diet due to their high satiating power.
In brief, the consumption of fruit is crucial for our well-being.
Seasonality and freshness
Today’s market is able to offer an increased and diversified supply of fresh fruits and vegetables throughout the year. This is due not only to innovations in the field of agricultural production techniques, but also to the introduction in recent years of new systems for the storage and processing of food products that are designed to leave the characteristics of the product unchanged. That’s why, for example, apples are fresh throughout the year. But the reason strawberries are fresh in December, or kiwis in summer, is not only tied to technological factors. Many of the “out of season” fruits available on the market arrive as imports from abroad.
However, it is important to remember that fruits and vegetables grown and enjoyed in their natural season are richer in vitamins, as well as tastier.
Why is it important to eat fruit?
Fruit consumption has beneficial effects on health—those who eat lots of fruit run less risk of developing certain chronic diseases. In addition, fruit provides some essential nutrients for the maintenance of a healthy lifestyle.
Beneficial effects on health
A diet rich in fruits and vegetables offers protection against the risks of:
- heart attacks and cardiovascular diseases
- the two types of diabetes
- certain types of cancer, such as of the mouth, stomach and colon
- kidney stones and osteoporosis
- Fruit, in general, is low in fat, sodium and calories. It contains no cholesterol.
- Fruit is an important source of valuable nutrients, such as potassium, dietary fiber, vitamin C, and folic acid.
- Rations rich in potassium help maintain proper blood pressure. The fruits most rich in potassium are banana, plum, peach, apricot, melon, and orange (juice).
- Dietary fiber from fruit helps reduce the cholesterol in circulation and therefore reduces the risk of cardiovascular events. Fiber is important in regulating bowel function, reducing the risk of constipation and diverticulitis. Fresh fruit, whole or in pieces, is a good source of fiber, whereas fruit juices contain a remarkably lower amount.
- Vitamin C found in fruit is an important nutrient during the period of growth and for tissue repair, wound and burn healing, the maintenance of good oral hygiene, and the growth of teeth.
- Folic acid helps maintain an optimal production of red blood cells. During pregnancy women should ingest adequate amounts of folic acid and folate; consuming fruit helps achieve this goal. Green beans are an example of a good source of folic acid. An adequate intake of this vitamin reduces some risk factors in the development of the fetus.
I can’t stress enough the importance of regularly including fruits & vegetables in one’s daily diet. Someone might suggest that in today’s over-informed world it is very common to hear this recommendation in every media (television, magazines, internet, etc.), at any time. Nevertheless, personal experience has led me to believe that most people do not eat enough vegetables during the day, even though they seem to be aware of the importance of such a guideline.
What can we do to beat laziness when it comes to eating and correct other bad habits?
Tips for consuming fruit with greater frequency
- Buy fruits in their season, not only because they are cheaper, but also because they have more aroma and flavor.
- Keep a bowl of fruit on the table, another on the shelf and an adequate reserve in the refrigerator.
- Buy storable fruit (dried, frozen or canned) as a sufficient occasional reserve, in case of a lack of fresh fruit.
- Vary your choices often: each fruit has different nutritional content.
- And, lastly:
If you like to eat a quick snack outside of home, always carry a whole fruit with you, or experiment with new ways to eat more fruit:
add it to salads,
pair it with slices of cheese,
or prepare purees to accompany meats.
To sum up, the benefits of fruits and vegetables are never too much in one’s diet.