Eating fruit & vegetables – knowing your vitamins and minerals

We all know we should be eating our fruit & vegetables but do you know the exact benefits to some of the fruit & veg you consume? Not sure? No worries lets get in to some detail.

Firstly, with it being winter lets touch on foods containing vitamin C before I go in to more general vitamin and mineral content of other foods. What’s the first food a lot of people reach for when wanting an increase in vitamin C? An orange. But, while the vibrant orange does contain vitamin C (53.2mg per 100 grams), there are other foods with higher levels of Vitamin C with added benefits of not containing as much sugar or acidity as the orange. Here’s my list of foods that pack more punch when it comes to Vitamin C per 100 grams.

Chilli peppers (242.5mg)

Parsley (133mg)

Red Peppers (127.7mg)

Kale (120mg)

Kiwi fruit (92.7mg)

Broccoli (89.2mg)

Sprouts (85mg)

Green Peppers (80.4mg)

Papaya (60.9mg)

Strawberries (58.8mg)

As you can see there are plenty of options and in my opinion better options than an orange for your vitamin C intake.

So let’s take a look at more general nutrient content of some fruit and vegetables.

Brussels sprouts – As well as being an excellent source of vitamin C this awesome vegetable is also a good source of vitamin K. In addition they contain nutrients such as folate, managanese vitamin B6, fibre, copper, vitamin B1, potassium, phosphorous and omega-3 fatty acids.

Red Peppers – These great tasting peppers contain an excellent source of vitamin A, vitamin C as mentioned and vitamin B6. As well as these vitamins they are very good source of folate, dietary fibre, vitamin E, potassium and vitamin B2.

Spinach – An excellent source of vitamin K, vitamin A, managanese, folate, and magnesium. The benefits don’t stop there. Spinach also contains, iron, vitamin B2, vitamin B6, vitamin E, calcium, potassium and vitamin C. It also contains fibre, vitamin B1, zinc and protein. What a veg! Also, interesting to mention that if eaten raw, a squeeze of fresh lemon juice can increase the bioavailability of the iron.

Cauliflower – Contains vitamin C, vitamin K, protein, thiamin, riboflavin, magnesium, fibre, vitamin B6, potassium and managanese. One of my favourite veg along with sprouts and broccoli.

Broccoli – Another good source of vitamin K and folate. Also contains some vitamin C, is a good source of dietary fibre, vitamin B6, vitamin E, manganese, vitamin B1, vitamin A and potassium.

Blueberries – These little beauties contain various antioxidants as well as vitamin C and vitamin K. They also contain manganese and are a good source of fibre and copper.

Raspberries – A great source of manganese and dietary fibre as well as copper and vitamin K, biotin, vitamin E, magnesium, folate, omega-3 fatty acids and potassium.

So, above are some good looking fruits and vegetables in terms nutrient content. As you’re reading this you may be thinking ‘the nutrient content looks great but what does each vitamin and mineral do?’ Let’s have a look at some of the vitamins and minerals that cropped up regularly.

Vitamin K – Essential in preventing heart disease and building strong bones. It also plays an important role in blood clotting. Vitamin K is also important in its work alongside vitamin D.

Vitamin E – one of its main roles is acting as an antioxidant which protects cell membranes.

Vitamin A – This vitamin has several important functions including helping your immune system function as it should against infections. It can help vision in dim light and also helps to keep the skin and the linings of other parts of the body healthy.

Manganese – some of the health benefits of manganese are things such as benefiting healthy bone structure and helping to create essential enzymes for building bones. It also acts as a co-enzyme to assist metabolic activity in the human body. There are other benefits such as absorption of calcium, proper functioning of the thyroid gland as well as regulation of blood sugar levels and metabolism of fats and carbohydrates.

Folate – or vitamin B9 is one of many essential vitamins. One of the more well known benefits is its role in fetal development during pregnancy. It is also great for the heart and preventing cardiovascular problems. Other benefits of folate are it encourages normal cholesterol levels and may provide neurological support.

I’m sure you’ll agree, there are some powerful foods we can consume to assist in optimal health. As I’ve said in a previous blog on supplements, food should always come first! The foods mentioned are just a few of course and the array of other beneficial foods is huge. Right, time for me to go and buy some sprouts. You’ve got to love a sprout!

Eat Well!

James