Fruits and vegetables contain many important nutrients. They are considered particularly health-promoting.
Better Health: Fruits and Veggies
Vitamins and minerals
People cannot live without vitamins and minerals. They are necessary for the building of cells, blood cells, bones, teeth. And they perform important tasks in metabolism and in the interaction of nerves and muscles. Vitamin A, for example, is important for eyesight, vitamin D for calcium absorption and healthy bones.
Because the human organism cannot produce vitamins and minerals itself, they must be ingested through food – especially vegetables and fruits that are rich in vitamins and minerals.
Dietary fiber is almost exclusively found in plant-based foods. The plant fibers are not or only partially digested by humans. High-fiber foods cause a long satiety effect and thus make it easier to maintain or reduce body weight. In addition, they stimulate intestinal activity and thereby promote digestion. Symptoms such as constipation, hemorrhoids and diverticulosis can be prevented in this way.
In addition, high fiber intake lowers the cholesterol concentration in the blood and has a beneficial effect on blood sugar levels. A high intake of fiber can help reduce the risk of obesity, high blood pressure, heart attack, type 2 diabetes mellitus, colorectal cancer and fat metabolism disorders. The German Nutrition Society therefore recommends 30 grams of fiber per day as a minium for adolescents and adults.
Secondary plant substances
Fruits and vegetables are colorful, they taste and smell good. The so-called secondary plant substances contribute to this. Only in recent years have scientists recognized their anti-inflammatory and antibacterial effects. They are also likely to lower your risk of cardiovascular and certain cancers.
Around a hundred thousand phytochemicals are known, including polyphenols. Of course, polyphenols are present in plants. They are not vital nutrients, but they have antioxidant properties. Since polyphenols are not an absolutely necessary part of our diet and their health benefits are still being discussed, there are currently no official recommendations on how much of them should be eaten daily. Only for olive oil (contains hydroxytyrosol, a polyphenol) is the claim that it helps to protect blood lipids from oxidative stress. This beneficial effect is obtained by consuming about two tablespoons of olive oil (20 g) a day.
Be careful with raw sprouts and seedlings
Fresh sprouts and seedlings are high in fiber, provide vitamins and protein. They are particularly popular as an ingredient in salads. However, they can be contaminated with bacteria. Eating sprouts and seedlings raw is therefore not fully recommended, according to the Bavarian Consumer Center. “It is possible that the seeds are already contaminated in the countries of origin. Germs can also grow during production and storage, ”explains Sabine Hülsmann from the Bavarian VZ.
To reduce the germ load, you should wash raw sprouts thoroughly before consumption and use them up quickly. They can be kept in the refrigerator for a day or two. People with weak immune systems (pregnant women, children, and seniors) must stay away from eating raw sprouts. Thorough heating, however, safely kills bacteria. Basically, sprouts of legumes must be blanched in boiling water in order to inactivate unwanted plant substances.
How much fruit and vegetables do Germans eat and how much should they eat?
The actual consumption of fruit and vegetables per head and year is on average 200 kg. The DGE recommends eating 237 kg per year. At first glance, our consumption of fruit and vegetables doesn’t seem that bad.
But if we take a closer look, we have to find that of the 200 kg, 120 kg is fruit (60 percent) and only 90 kg is vegetables. The DGE recommends only 91 kg of fruit per person per year. The opposite is true for vegetables, 146 kg of vegetables are recommended.