Fruits and Vegetables

Fruits and Vegetables

Originally, fruits and vegetables were gathered when the first hunters and gatherers noticed they could plant seeds, manipulate growth and manage plant fertility. During the period 10,000 BC to 7,000 BC, this development of cultivation occurred in several parts of the world where a new agricultural way of life developed. As transportation developed plants that were cultivated domestically were now traded for exotic crops from elsewhere. Nowadays, most fruits and vegetables are grown all over the world as climate permits, and crops may be cultivated in protected environments in less suitable locations.

Fruits and vegetables are a staple dietary need due to their rich nutritional value. These are whole foods that are created by nature. Botany defines a fruit as a seed-containing organ developed from the ovary of a flowering plant. Fruits can be cooked but usually are eaten raw. Common types of fruits which are readily available include citrus, stone fruits, tropical and exotic fruits, berries, melons, apples, pears and avocados. Vegetables, however, are other edible parts of a plant such as roots, leaves, stems. There are many varieties and can be classified into biological families such as leafy greens (kale), cruciferous (cauliflour), marrows (cucumber), roots (potato), edible plant stems (celery) and alliums ( garlic).  Accordingly, apples, squash and, yes, tomatoes and peapods are all fruits whereas beets (roots), asparagus (stem) and spinach (leaves) are all vegetables.

Gardeners and chefs define fruits and vegetables by whether they're sweet or savoury. Therefore, tomatoes, bell peppers and eggplants which are botanically speaking fruits are considered vegetables. These different outlooks cause some confusion with the general public. A survey conducted by www.gardeningexpress.co.uk found the following the most common fruits commonly mistaken as vegetables; tomatoes, cucumbers, courgette, avocado, pepper, pumpkin, butternut squash, olives, aubergine and peapods.

To ensure protection against an extensive list of diseases, it is beneficial to consume a wide variety of fruits and vegetables of different colours. The different colours provide different health benefits depending on the nutrients they contain.

Green fruits contains more chlorophyll than any other coloured plants. Chlorophyll is the molecule that absorbs sunlight for photosynthesis which is the basis of sustaining all plant life and responsible for giving plants their green colour. Other nutrients include fiber, potassium, lutein, zeaxanthin, folate, Vitamin C, calcium, and Beta-carotene. The nutrients found in these foods boost immune system activity, supports retinal health, lowers LDL cholesterol and blood pressure levels, aids digestion, fights harmful free-radicals, and boost immune system activity. Cruciferous vegetables help your liver detoxify harmful cancer- causing substances, prevent macular degeneration, and protect women from ovarian cancer due to sulphurous compounds.

Blue and purple produce contain lutein,  zeaxanthin, resveratrol, Vitamin C, fiber, flavonoids, ellagic acid, and quercetin. Purple-coloured foods naturally contain an antioxidant known as anthocyanin.  Benefits include supporting retinal health, boosting immune system activity, lowering LDL cholesterol, reducing blood pressure, decreasing risk of heart disease, diabetes and metabolic syndrome. These nutrients also support a healthy digestive system by aiding digestion, mineral absorption and acting as an anticarcinogens to reduce tumour growth, fight inflammation and limit activity of cancer cells.

A specific caroteniod compound known as Beta-carotene found in orange and yellow fruits is responsible for its vibrant colour. When converted to vitamin A it aids in maintaining healthy mucous membrane and healthy eyes. In addition to another carotenoid, lutein which is stored in the eyes has been known to prevent cataracts and age related muscular degeneration, which can lead blindness. Other nutrients such as zeaxanthin, flavanoids  and lycopene reduce risk of prostate cancer, lower LDL cholesterol and blood pressure, promote collagen formation and healthy joints, fight free radicals, encourage alkaline balance and together with magnesium and calcium build healthy bones. Folate, potassium, bromium and vitamin C are also often found in orange and yellow fruits and vegetables.

Red fruits and vegetables are coloured by a natural plant pigment called lycopene. Lycopene is a powerful antioxidant that can help reduce the risk of cancer and keep our heart healthy. Other essential vitamins and minerals include potassium , vitamin A, vitamins C, folate, ellagic acid, quercetin and hesperidin. Compounds in these fruits and vegetables reduce risk of prostate cancer, lowers blood pressure and LDL cholesterol, keep vision and immune system healthy, scavenge harmful free-radicals, limit risk for urinary tract infection and support join tissue in people with arthiritis.

White fruits are known for their range of nutrients which provide powerful immune boosting activity. Beta-glucans, EGCG, SDG, and ligans activate natural killer B and T cells reducing risk of colon, breast, and prostate cancer and reducing risk of hormone-related cancers by regulating hormone levels. White fruits and vegetables get their colour from polyphenol compounds which contain antioxidant properties called anthoxanthins. Other nutrients such as  allicin ( known for its antiviral and antibacterial properties), vitamin C, folate, fiber, niacin and rioflavin aid in reducing your risk for high blood pressure, high cholesterol, cancer and heart disease. Some members of the white group, such as bananas and potatoes, are also a good source of potassium.