Since so many allotment holders harvest their own crops, we asked the nutritional experts at Chichester Wellbeing what the health benefits of eating fruit and vegetables are.
Why are fruit and vegetables good for you?
The proverb “you are what you eat” means that if you eat well, you will be well; but if you eat badly you will feel bad.
At Chichester Wellbeing we strongly encourage our clients to eat ‘clean food’. That means avoiding processed ready meals and treat each meal as a feeding opportunity to get crunchy vegetables and fruit into your diet. Ideally eat locally grown foods that are in season to get the best punch of vitamins and minerals into your body.
But why are fruit and vegetables good for us?
They are very high in anti-oxidants.
What are anti-oxidants?
Antioxidants are simply the vitamins, minerals and nutrients found in foods. They are most commonly found in plant foods with bright, distinctive colors, such as red cherries, orange carrots and purple beetroot (for example).
But this still doesn’t really explain why fruits and vegetables are good for us?
Because they defend our body against free radicals.
What are free radicals?
Free radicals simply mean cell death.
Aging is simply death of our body cells without building new ones. Extreme stress and extreme exercise increases cell death (known as free radicals). So if we are experiencing extreme stress there is a boost in our free radical production (cells dying) in our body.
Free radicals in small and controlled quantities are perfectly normal reactions in our body. The problems start when the production of these free radicals increases and then get out of control (extreme stress, extreme exercise).
Just to point out that when I talk about ‘extreme exercise’ I am talking about exactly that. Running marathons every week; exercising for more than 4 hours a day!
Anti-oxidants are like a bomb disposal unit – they can stop the free radicals before they manage to cause any harm to our body. Because we are being attacked by different kinds of free radicals, our body uses different kinds of anti-oxidants. Some of them are produced by our own body, but some of them are received from the food we eat.
Each fruit and vegetable brings a unique vitamin and mineral to our table. So that is why it is important to eat our 5 to 7 portions of fruit and veg a day and also to aim for rainbow colours on our plate. For example:
Red: Tomatoes, Red peppers, Beetroot, Red Cabbage, Aubergine, Cherries, Raspberries, Cherries, Apples.
Orange: Carrots, Pumpkin, Sweet Potatoes, Squash, Oranges, Apricots.
Yellow: Sweet corn, Yellow Peppers, Bananas
Green: Broccoli, Spinach, Salad Leaves, Peas, Broad Beans, Celery, Cucumber, Spinach, Apples.
Blue/Violet: Blueberries, Blackberries, Grapes, Plums, Purpling Sprouting Broccoli, Aubergine.
Chichester Wellbeing is a free service which supports people to make healthy lifestyle changes. If you would like more information on our service or to book an appointment then please phone 01243 521041 or email [email protected]