Know Your Ingredients: Fruits and Vegetables
Updated: Apr 13
Apples are an exceptionally healthy fruit with many research-backed benefits. Pectin, water-soluble fiber contained in an apple, is a good feed for good bacteria which lives in the intestines, and plays a critical role in building immunity. The malic acid found in an apple is good for healthy stomach and intestines. The peel of an apple is rich in fiber, and has antioxidant effects. So, to get maximum benefits from an apple, it is best to eat a whole apple including the peel.
Bananas are rich in potassium, magnesium, and vitamins C and B6. Bananas are high in antioxidants, which can provide protection from free radicals in your body. Bananas are high in fiber because of which they are at a medium level on the glycemic index scale.
Beetroot is power-packed with nutrients, including fiber, folate, and vitamin C. Beets also contain nitrates and pigments that may help lower blood pressure and improve athletic performance. Being good sources of fiber, they help in weight loss.
Bottle gourd is a vegetable that is high in water and is a rich source of vitamin C, vitamin K, and calcium. It helps in maintaining a healthy heart and brings down bad cholesterol levels. It is also used for weight loss because it is low in calories and is packed with fiber, which helps in keeping you full for longer.
Broccoli has multiple health benefits. It contains a variety of nutrients, such as folic acid that helps cells regenerate, vitamin C that helps to prevent cancer, and vitamin K that plays a critical role in bone formation. Broccoli can be eaten cooked or raw. Many vitamins are often lost during cooking because they are water-soluble. So, eating broccoli raw or with soup is recommended. Broccoli is eaten all year round, but one in cold season is richer in nutrients.
Cabbage is loaded with nutrients. It is rich in vitamin C and vitamin K and can prevent certain cancers. Cabbage is also good for heart health, regulating blood pressure, and reducing cholesterol. Being low in carbs and rich in fiber, cabbage is a go-to food for people trying to lose weight.
Carrots are a rich resource of various vitamins and minerals. Being rich in beta-carotene, carrots are an important source of vitamin A. Due to the presence of antioxidants, carrots are good for heart health and help fight harmful free radicals in the body, which may reduce the likelihood of getting cancer. They are also rich in potassium, and therefore help maintain blood pressure.
Corn is considered a grain, vegetable and fruit! Like all grains, the primary nutrient in corn is carbohydrates. But is also high in fibre and has low to medium glycemic index, so it will not cause an immediate spike in blood sugar. Corn is also rich in B vitamins, which helps in lowering cholesterol, promoting heart health and producing red blood cells.
Cucumbers are made up of around 96% water, making them a great hydrating food for summers. Cucumbers are low in calories but high in vitamins and minerals such as vitamin C, vitamin K, magnesium, and potassium. They are also rich in antioxidants. Cucumbers are good for weight loss and can be used as a low-calorie substitute for other ingredients in salads, sandwiches, dips, and other dishes.
Dates are a healthy fruit to include in the diet. As a natural sweetener, they are better than refined sugar as they are not a ‘sugar bomb’ or just empty calories. In fact, they are high in several nutrients such as B vitamins, vitamin K, calcium, iron, magnesium, potassium, zinc, and manganese. Dates are rich in fiber and various antioxidants, all of which can help protect the body against various diseases.
Lemons are a great source of vitamin C, which helps boost immunity. The vitamin C and citric acid in lemons also support the absorption of iron from food. Lemons may also aid weight loss, support digestion, and reduce the risk of heart disease, kidney stones, and cancer. Heating lemon juice can cause a loss of vitamin C, so it is best to consume it at warm or room temperature.
Mango, or the 'king of fruits, is rich in vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants. Mangoes are high in vitamins A and C, supporting healthy eyes, skin, and hair. The presence of amylase, water, and dietary fiber make mangoes good for digestive health. Further, the nutrients present in mangoes help improve immunity, have anti-cancer effects, and are good for heart health. However, due to a moderate-high glycemic index, eating mangoes may lead to a spike in blood sugar levels. So they should be consumed in moderation, especially by people with diabetes.
Orange is low in fat, carbohydrate and protein, but is very rich in vitamin C. Vitamin C has an antioxidant effect that improves skin condition and prevents cold. Vitamin C also helps boost immunity and supports absorption of iron in the body. The orange pith is high in fiber, and contains as much vitamin C as the fruit itself. The dietary fiber in orange can help lower cholesterol levels and blood sugar levels. The orange zest is high is flavonoid, vitamin A and other nutrients. But often, oranges available in the market, especially imported oranges, contain wax coating and pesticide residues on the surface. So, it is important to wash the surface of the orange properly before consuming orange zest.
Pumpkin (kaddu) is a rich source of beta carotene which gets converted into vitamin A in our body. Vitamin A is important for normal vision, immune system, and reproduction. Vitamin A also helps the heart, lungs, kidneys, and other organs work properly. Eating pumpkin is good for the heart. The fiber, potassium, and vitamin C content in pumpkins all support heart health.
Spinach is a superfood because of its high nutritive value. It is a rich source of vitamin A, vitamin C, vitamin K, folic acid, iron, and calcium. Vitamin C plays a role in fighting viruses and bacteria that invade the body and helps boost immunity. Vitamin A makes the nose and throat stronger. It is best to have spinach is winter, because winter spinach is richer in these nutrients. Vitamin C contained in winter spinach, for instance, is 5 to 10 times the amount in summer. Spinach is also low in carbs but high in insoluble fiber. This type of fiber helps in digestion. Spinach has a host of benefits. It can reduce oxidative stress, promote eye health, fight cancer and regulate blood pressure.
Tomato is biologically a fruit, although it is treated as a vegetable in food preparations. Tomato is a versatile food, which is a common ingredient in Indian cooking, and is widely used in other cuisines as well. Besides adding a tangy taste to the food, tomatoes also add to its nutrition value. They are rich in vitamins A and C and other antioxidants, making them good for boosting immunity and for healthy skin and hair. Tomatoes contain carotenoids such as lutein and lycopene, which can protect the eye against light-induced damage. Lycopene in tomatoes is also considered to control the growth of cancer cells. Tomatoes can be eaten raw, but cooked tomatoes are nutritious as well because cooking increases the lycopene content. Tomatoes also help reduce cholesterol, control blood sugar level and improve heart health. Tomatoes are also considered to aid fat-burning, and are therefore good for weight loss.
Watermelon is an ideal fruit to stay hydrated in summers because around 92% of it is water. Its high water content and low calories make it a great fruit for weight loss. Watermelon is also rich in vitamins C and A, both of which are good for hair and skin. Watermelon also aids digestion and relieves muscle soreness.