Fruits and vegetables have been in the human diet over the entirety of human history. We eat them raw, cooked, chilled, frozen, and in ever creative combinations with other fruits and vegetables. We drink them in juices and in the case of things like orange peel, we even use them as seasoning for other foods. As with everything that’s been around that long, there is a lot to know about fruits and veggies so let’s talk about some of them!
There is a long standing myth out there that you can eat some fruits and vegetables that require more calories to digest than they actually give. Unfortunately, this is total hogwash. There are foods out there that have very few calories. For instance, a stalk of celery has between six and ten calories. There is a metric called TEF (Thermal Effect of Food) that measures how many calories are used to digest food. Generally speaking, it’s only about 10% to 20%. That means a ten calorie stalk of celery still gives you eight calories even after digestion. Now you know!
Bananas are a favorite fruit around the world. It tastes good, it’s high in potassium, and it’s delicious when placed in a dish with ice cream and chocolate syrup. It is also the most interesting fruit in the world. In the 1950’s, a disease called the Panama Disease all but wiped out an entire species of banana which motivated farmers to use the Cavendish banana which we all eat today. The bananas we eat are actually all cloned from a single banana plant in southeast Asia which means that every single banana is exactly the same banana. Also, bananas are technically herbs.
It’s a wildly popular rumor that frozen veggies and fruits aren’t as nutritious as their frozen counterparts. This simply isn’t true. Studies by the FDA have confirmed that any decrease in nutrition from freezing vegetables is negligible at best. So you can eat it fresh, frozen, or even drink it and you’ll get the same benefits! Do keep in mind that if you drink it, it has to be 100% juice. A brand with only 10% is obviously not going to be more nutritious.
A lot of people knew this one already but what they don’t know are the benefits of fiber. It can help keep your bowel movements regular, help lower cholesterol, regulate blood sugar, and help you feel fuller for longer. Pretty much all of those things can lead to you feeling healthier, losing weight, and eating less bad food.
There’s no doubt in anyone’s mind that eating fruits and veggies are required for a truly healthy diet. However, a little known fact is that some fruits and veggies contain toxic chemicals. The most widely known toxin in fruits is cyanide. As many people know, cyanide occur in low levels in apples. It can also occur in apricots, peaches, and cassava roots. Potatoes contain occasionally harmful amounts of a toxin called solanine. There are rarely enough in potatoes to cause harm and farmers grow them in a specific manner to keep the toxin low. Even so, if you’ve consumed any of these fruits or veggies, you’ve been exposed to toxic chemicals and they’re not from pesticides for once.
In many countries around the world, Brussels sprouts reign as the least enjoyable vegetable out there. Some claim that their bitter flavor prevents true enjoyment and cooking them to remove the bitterness is more of an art than a skill. What you likely don’t know is that Brussels sprouts are among the most nutritious veggies out there. It is packed with vitamins and minerals, has virtually no calories, no fat, no cholesterol, and it even fills you up. You can find a variety of recipes that help deal with the occasionally bitter flavor but you should definitely try to pack more of these puppies into your diet.
Broccoli got a bad rap a few years ago when President George W Bush proclaimed that he would never eat it again. Sadly, that was probably a bad move because broccoli is actually quite good for you. Aside from the usual nutrition one garners from eating veggies, broccoli in general has a great deal of protein. Calorie for calorie, there is more protein in broccoli than steak. Since it doesn’t come with all those saturated and trans fats or cholesterol, you can get all the protein you need with a significantly lower risk of cardiovascular disease. Let’s not forget all of the other awesome nutrition it provides. Pumpkin seeds are also a good choice as they have more protein than a similar amount of ground beef.
Believe it or not, it’s absolutely true. A little known fact about pineapple is that it contains an enzyme called bromelain. If you read other sources they all say pretty much the same things. This enzyme breaks down proteins in your mouth, namely your taste buds. This can wreck your palate for the rest of the day until your mouth can heal itself. A fun fact that a lot of people throw around that the enzyme bromelain is used in meat tenderizer. Pineapple is a fruit and that means it’s great for you, but you should probably let a freshly sliced pineapple sit in the fridge for a bit before eating it so the enzymes can break down.
Peppers are great even if most people use them as a spice rather than using them as a food. A little known fact about cayenne peppers is that they can promote the clotting of blood over wounds. According to experts, you can sprinkle some cayenne pepper into a wound where it will act as gauze. This will help stop the bleeding. Eating cayenne pepper can also help equalize blood pressure and promote clotting from the inside. That means it doesn’t matter if you eat it or literally put it on the wound, it will help it heal faster.
In no way would we ever try to convince the coffee aficionados in our readership to give up their precious morning coffee. We’re not crazy. However, if you’re finding yourself a little low on energy during the afternoon then consider eating an apple in the morning with your coffee. Thanks to its high carbohydrate, vitamin, and mineral content, apples have the perfect storm of nutrition to help you stay energized all day.
Watermelons aren’t just giant and nutritious but they can also play a key role in keeping you hydrated. In the days before modern plumbing when water became plentiful, people used to carry around watermelons on long trips to stay hydrated. Due to its thick skin and the fact that it’s 92% water, explorers and desert-faring folks carried the fruit around so they had something to drink. This is why watermelons make great food for picnics, beach visits, or other outdoor activities that take place predominately when it is hot outside. Bring it along, it can keep you from getting dehydrated!
Grapefruits are among the most nutritious fruits out there for you. Unfortunately, they come with a little bit of a stigma. Okay, it’s actually a pretty big stigma because grapefruit can kill you. If you take certain medication, the chemicals in grapefruit can cause a bad reaction that can have fatal results. If you’re on medications, be sure to check with a medical professional before drinking or consuming any grapefruit because it could end very badly for you. We’d include a list of drugs you shouldn’t eat grapefruit while taking but it’s a fairly comprehensive list.
One of the most enjoyable parts of United States culture are the faces of awe you get when you tell someone that tomatoes are actually fruit because they have seeds. It is technically true and a lot of people don’t know that they have a fruit in their salad. However, in the late 1800’s, the US Supreme Court ruled that tomatoes are to be considered a vegetable. This was because of a trade tariff back then that taxes imported vegetables but not imported fruits. The Supreme Court ruled tomatoes a vegetable so they could be taxed like a vegetable when imported into the country. So when you eat one, it’s botanically a fruit but legally a vegetable.
If you peel your fruits and vegetables before you eat them, you may be making a nutritional mistake. On many fruits and veggies such as carrots, apples, and cucumbers, a good percentage of the nutrition is actually stored in the skin. That means when you peel them, you’re actually peeling away nutritious benefit. The skins also contain a lot of fiber and we’ve already talked about all the great things that fiber can do.
All fruits and all vegetables are low in calories. You can eat two pounds of vegetables and barely crack 300 calories. This is why you hear nutrition professionals, doctors, and other health conscious people tell you to eat them for snacks. A back of chips contains fat, oil, and a lot of calories. A pound of carrots contains none of those things. It is absolutely absurd how much fruit and vegetables you can eat before the calories start stacking up. One stalk of celery is about ten calories. For the average 2,000 calorie diet, you would have to consume 200 stalks of celery. Good luck with that!
You hear it all the time that fruits and veggies can make you more healthy and help prevent disease. The unfortunate part is that no one tells you why. The list of reasons why are way too long but we’ll go over a couple of them here. As we discussed, the high fiber content can help you lower cholesterol which will help prevent all diseases that can be caused by high cholesterol. Eating fruits and veggies instead of sugary or fatty junk food can prevent weight gain which can prevent diabetes as well as virtually all other diseases and conditions that comes with being overweight. The list goes on and on. People don’t just say that fruits and vegetables can prevent diseases as a marketing tactic. They actually do these things for valid reasons.
Onions can make you cry and make your breath smell terrible. Believe it or not, the reason onions do those things are the exact same reason why onions are good for you. Onions contain over 100 sulfide-containing compounds. These contain a number of health benefits such as the prevention of asthma and some types of cancer. Onions are related to leeks, garlic, chives, and scallions. While they don’t all have the same level of health benefits, they do all have similar health benefits.
A new fad among chefs around the industry are purple vegetables. In some grocery stores you can find a lot of vegetables in purple including carrots, potatoes, cauliflower, corn, and asparagus. Purple vegetables have anthocyanins. Early studies suggest that this flavanoid has a lot of health benefits such as the prevention of heart disease, some cancers, improved general health, and could even protect our brains as we age. If you find some purple veggies, give them a try because they’re pretty awesome. You can also find anthocyanins in high quantities in blackberries.
Orange peels have over four times the amount of fiber of the actual fruit. It also contains more antioxidants than the actual fruit. The only downside is that it’s difficult to find a way to eat it. The best way is to grate it up like cheese into an orange zest. You can use that to season all sorts of foods. This is how they make orange chicken in Chinese restaurants. Not bad for a part of the fruit that almost everyone simply throws away.
In most cases, the outside of the fruit or vegetable in question is more nutritious than the inside. This is depressing because the inside is usually the part that tastes good. Much like the orange peels mentioned earlier, there are creative ways to get these nutritious parts of the vegetable into your meals.
As we’ve stated numerous times already, fruits and vegetables rock. They’re low in calories, high in nutrition, high in fiber, and most of them taste pretty good. It seems like every year we find another new awesome thing that fruits and vegetables can do for us and our bodies. If you’re not eating them, you’re missing out on a lot of things that we both know about and don’t know about yet.
Featured photo credit: Johnston Health via johnstonhealth.org
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