Eating fruits and vegetables is an important factor in being healthy. There are many types of fruits and vegetables, all nutritional, disease-fighting and helpful in losing or maintaining weight. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration recommends five servings each day. These foods are divided into the categories of vegetables, fruits and legumes. The color of what a person eats is helpful in determining what health benefits each food has.
Fruit, which is commonly eaten raw or used in baking, is divided into several varieties. These include melons (such as watermelon), berries (including raspberries and passionfruit), pears, apples, avocados, tomatoes, citrus (such as oranges and limes), exotic and tropical (including bananas), and stonefruit (such as apricots and plums). Citrus fruits in particular are helpful in preventing strokes and heart attacks.
Vegetables, eaten cooked or raw, are classified biologically into families, or groups. These are cruciferous (including brussels sprouts and broccoli), root (such as potatoes), allium (including onions and garlic), leafy green (such as lettuce), marrow (including pumpkin) and edible plant stems (like celery). According to the Harvard School of Public Health, a 2007 study by the World Cancer Research Fund and the American Institute for Cancer Research found that "non-starchy" vegetables may prevent several types of cancer.
Legumes must be cooked and have many health benefits when eaten, especially helpful with digestion. They contain more protein than other vegetables, although their nutritional value is lower. These include peas and dried beans (such as lentils and chickpeas), fresh peas and beans (including green beans), legume flours and soy products (such as tofu).
The color of a fruit, vegetable or legume is indicative of its health benefits. Red foods like tomatoes contain a chemical called lycopene, which is believed to help fight heart disease. Purple or blue foods contain anthocyanins, white foods have sulforaphane, and green food contains zeaxanthin and lutein. All of these chemicals are thought to help reduce the risk of a variety of diseases.
- Better Health Channel: Fruit and vegetable - Types
- Fruits n Vegetables: Health
- Harvard School of Public Health: Vegetables and Fruits: Get Plenty Every Day
- Basic-Info-4-Organic-Fertilizers.com: Legumes Include Peas, Beans, Soy Beans and Lentils
- U.S. Department of Agriculture: Fruits & Veggies -- More Matters