Rich in fiber, antioxidants, phytochemicals, fruits, and vegetables only provide health benefits. Did you know that only a little over half of Quebecers consume enough? While all fruits and vegetables are great for us, some are even better. Here is today a top 10 fruits and vegetables that should be part of our daily diet.
How much should we eat each day?
What is a serving of fruits and vegetables?
One serving is equivalent to …
- 1/2 cup (125 ml) fresh vegetables
- 250 ml (1 cup) leafy vegetables
- 1 whole fruit
- 125 ml of 100% pure juice
1. Winter squash: not just for Halloween!
This is a big family: butternut squash, pumpkin, pumpkin, etc. Unfortunately, squashes, especially pumpkins, are more often used as a Halloween decoration than as food.
- The flesh of winter squash contains a good amount of beta-carotene which turns into vitamin A. Its concentration is even higher than that of carrots. These antioxidant substances are said to protect against certain cancers and improve the immune system.
- Squash is also high in fiber and low in calories.
- The delicious and crunchy seeds of the pumpkin are very rich in phytosterols. These are now recognized for their benefits on cardiovascular health. Like all seeds, they contain a significant amount of good-quality fat. They are mainly made up of monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats.
2. Tomatoes: to be ashamed of health!
|Food||Amount||Lycopene content (µg)|
|Canned whole tomatoes||250 ml (1 cup)||7.017|
|Canned Tomato Sauce||250 ml (1 cup)||36 188|
|Tomato paste||30 ml (2 tbsp.)||9.329|
More and more studies are showing that the antioxidants in tomatoes help prevent certain cancers, especially prostate cancer. The main one is lycopene, the pigment that gives it its beautiful red color. It would also be better absorbed by the body when the tomato is cooked or when it is combined with a source of fat. Processed products are therefore particularly interesting (tomato sauce, canned tomatoes).
It is well known that bananas contain a lot of potassium, but tomatoes contain almost as much! Indeed, an average tomato contains just over 80% of the amount of potassium in a small banana. Potassium taking part in several biological phenomena, consuming it is beneficial for the organism.
3. Spinach: Popeye’s Favorite Vegetable
This famous character will probably bring back many memories to you. This sailor had only to consume a cane of spinach to increase his muscles exponentially. Although this green vegetable contains less iron than it was believed at the time, it is nonetheless one of the richest in vitamins and minerals!
For the same serving size, cooked spinach contains almost 8 times more iron than raw spinach given its heavier weight. However, it should be noted that iron of plant origin is less well absorbed than iron of animal origin. To increase its absorption. It is recommended to consume spinach with foods rich in vitamin C (tomatoes, citrus fruits, peppers, etc.)
Besides its iron content, spinach is rich in folic acid, magnesium, manganese, vitamin A, K, and B6. They also contain a large number of antioxidants that protect against cardiovascular disease and diseases related to aging.
4. Cabbage: in our style!
In recent years, cabbage has become the “favorite” vegetable of nutritionists. Indeed, cabbage is an ally of choice for the prevention of cancer.
Glucosinolates are molecules in cabbage that are thought to help limit the development of breast and prostate cancer. Indeed. These molecules would accelerate the elimination of carcinogenic substances by the body and slow down the development of cancer cells.
Glucosinolates are water-soluble substances, that is, they dissolve in water. Cabbage should not be cooked in too much water to retain its fascinating health properties! Cabbage can be eaten raw, lightly cooked in a little water, or sautéed in a pan.
5. The pomegranate: to stain your fingers!
The antioxidant potential of pomegranate is very high: it is three times greater than that of red wine and is at the top of the list among nearly 40 fruits analyzed! The main antioxidants found are anthocyanins. Responsible for its bright color, and tannins, giving it the bitter taste of its flesh.
On the other hand, we must know that the juices are very sweet and that we must consume them in moderation. If you are a heavy drinker, you can cut the juice with water and reduce calories and sugars!
6. Orange: the fruit of the sun
In the past, orange was a sign of wealth. Blessed were we if we found one in our stocking stuffer! Especially delicious in winter. Oranges should be an integral part of your daily diet.
A single orange can practically meet his daily vitamin C requirements. Between the fruit and the juice. My heart swings for the fruit. Orange contains more fiber, fewer sugars, calories, and more supports the body. In addition, orange contains calcium. Well, it contains less than milk (6 oranges equivalent to a glass of milk in terms of calcium content), but it is the fruit that contains the most!
Beware of cooking!
Vitamin C is an extremely sensitive vitamin when cooked. Upon heating, the vitamin is destroyed. This is why it is recommended to opt for fresh oranges more often to benefit from these health benefits.
7. Carrots: to keep your eyes open!
When I was younger, my grandmother often told me “eat your carrots, Caroline, it’s good for your eyes!” Well, my grandmother was right.
Carrot is indeed an excellent source of vitamin A, which promotes good vision, especially in the dark. In addition, large consumption of carrots could reduce the risk of cataracts.
The dark color of the carrot comes from its many pigments (eg: carotenoids). The latter, the vast majority of which are antioxidants, would help prevent several diseases, including cardiovascular disease and certain cancers.
Carotenoids are more easily assimilated when consumed with fat. It is therefore to our advantage to prepare them with a source of fat such as vegetable oil, margarine or even cheese!
And the baby carrots?
They are often accused of being chlorine-filled impostors. It’s a reality: to extend their shelf life. We actually soak baby carrots in chlorinated water. Rest assured. The amount of chlorine used is low and regulated by Health Canada and these baby carrots. In addition to having a sweeter taste, are just as good for your health!
8. Berries: blueberries, raspberries, strawberries
Who doesn’t like blueberries, raspberries, or strawberries? We should be proud of these delicious berries that grow in abundance in the summer in Quebec.
Blueberries are the champions for their antioxidant content. Blackberry, raspberry, and strawberry follow closely. Concerning the strawberry, did you know that it is one of the least caloric fruits? It only contains about 25 calories per 125 ml (1/2 cup) serving.
Go to the fields to pick them will be all the more beneficial for your health! Berries harvested at full maturity are indeed more nutritious than imported ones. Which are often picked before maturity. More vitamins, more minerals, and more antioxidant compounds … this is a good reason to go harvesting with family and friends!
9. Onions: to make you cry for joy!
We are discovering more and more health benefits linked to the regular consumption of foods belonging to the onion family (red, yellow, green onion, garlic, etc.)
Onions would indeed have antioxidant compounds housed especially in their outer layers and playing a role in the prevention of heart disease. Stomach and intestinal cancer and other diseases related to aging. Their antioxidant action would also vary according to the different varieties: the action of white onions would be. For example less than that of yellow and red onions. We, therefore, gain by adding them to our recipes daily!
To avoid crying when cutting onions, refrigerate them before cutting them or run them under a continuous stream of water: you will outsmart this volatile substance very soluble in water which is responsible for your tears.
I admit, strictly speaking, herbs are not vegetables. However, I include them in this top 10, because they are of plant origin. Herbs are rich in essential nutrients and may have a preventative effect on cardiovascular disease and some cancers.
However, as they are only used in small quantities, these foods contribute little to the daily intake of vitamins and minerals. Their main benefit is associated with our salt intake. Let me explain: herbs help reduce the amount of salt normally used for cooking or at mealtime since they provide flavor and taste. It is therefore to our advantage to consuming them in abundance considering our daily intake is much too high in sodium!