Health Benefits Of Fruits And Vegetables
Vegetables ( greens and others ) and fresh fruits are rich sources of micronutrients such as vitamins and minerals and of complex carbohydrates/ fiber. They contain an abundant amount of iron, vitamin C, folic acid, carotenoids ( precursors of vitamin A )and phytochemicals. Though most Indians are vegetarians in practice, daily intake of vegetables is very low ( <150 g).
What are the major micronutrients in vegetables/fruits?
This fat-soluble vitamin is necessary for clear vision in dim light, and for maintaining the integrity of epithelial tissues. In vitamin, A deficiency, the white of the eye loses its luster and becomes dry. In severe vitamin A deficiency, the black of the eye ( cornea ) enlarges, leading to irreversible blindness in young children. Vitamin A also has a role in maintaining resistance of the body to common infections. Carotenoids are plentiful in fruits and vegetables that are green or deep yellow/orange in color, such as green leafy vegetables, carrots, tomatoes, sweet potatoes, papaya, mango etc.
Iron is an essential element necessary for the formation of hemoglobin, the red pigment present in the red cells of the blood. Haemoglobin plays an important role in the transport of oxygen to the tissues. Reduction in hemoglobin in the blood leads to anemia, a condition characterized by paleness and easy fatigue and increased susceptibility to infections. Iron is available in plenty with green leafy vegetables. But the absorption of iron is limited. Vitamin C rich foods must be consumed daily to improve iron absorption.