Almost everyone needs to eat more fruits and veggies, but which, if either, should be the focus of a balanced diet? As people age and develop, their taste buds evolve in terms of what they find tasty. However, even for those who enjoy eating fruits and veggies, it isn’t always easy to incorporate those foods into your daily routine.
Fruits are more popular than vegetables because they’re sweeter and generally have more pleasing flavors. After all, when was the last time you saw spinach-flavored gummies or green bean-flavored bubble gum?
Most people have probably heard from one source or another that sugar is an enemy of healthy dieting habits. Fruits contain much more sugar in general than veggies, and while that sugar makes the fruit taste delicious, it also seems to work against the nutritional value of the fruit.
That being said, however, fruit sugar is not the same as processed sugar; they are different on the molecular level. Fruit sugar is a molecule called fructose. Processed sugar is a molecule called sucrose — sucrose is made with one fructose molecule and one glucose molecule, making it more “sugary” than fructose alone. These differences also affect how they are processed by your metabolism. For example, fruit sugar (fructose) is less likely to spike your blood sugar than the sugar from a can of soda (sucrose). Check out this healthy recipe for “dessert” fruit skewers.
Fruits are rich in vitamins, antioxidants, and water. Yes, water. Water is essential to almost all processes in the human body, and you can get it in ways other than from a bottle. The nutritional content of fruit varies from fruit to fruit, but generally they’re also good sources of antioxidants, fiber, potassium, vitamin C, and a plethora of minerals.
- Watermelon is full of water and electrolytes, making it nature’s perfect summer fruit. It helps keep your skin clear and helps you recover after a workout.
- Grapefruit contains compounds that help reduce insulin resistance, promote weight loss, and even help prevent kidney stones.
- Blueberries are extraordinarily rich in antioxidants. They can help reduce the risk of diabetes and even Alzheimer’s, as well as boost the immune system.
- Apples are a good source of potassium, an important electrolyte, as well as pectic, which helps improve digestive health.
- Pineapple is packed with manganese, which is a heavy hitter for bone health. It also contains bromelain, an anti-inflammatory.
- Durian isn’t particularly popular in grocery stores, but maybe it should be – it’s one of the best fruits for trace minerals like copper and magnesium.
Vegetables have a longstanding reputation as having superior nutritive value compared to fruits because they don’t taste as good. And as the rule goes, foods that don’t taste good are better for you, right?
One of the major reasons why vegetables are touted by low-carb weight loss programs and even medical nutrition experts as healthier than fruit is because they have a lower sugar content. For example, there are approximately 3 grams of sugar in a medium carrot, compared to the 7 grams of sugar in an equivalent amount of apple. Like fruit, the sugar that is found in vegetables is fructose, not sucrose.
Vegetables are filled with minerals, phytochemicals, and vitamins, and green veggies in particular are especially nutritious. Like fruit, the nutrients found in vegetables vary according to the vegetable, but most are strong sources of calcium, vitamin K, vitamin C, fiber, and lutein.
- Leafy greens are a powerhouse of vitamin K, an important vitamin for blood clotting.
- Bell peppers are rich in vitamin C, bolstering heart health.
- Alfalfa sprouts are packed with beta-carotene, which is used by the human body to make vitamin A for health skin, hair, bones, teeth, etc. They’re also rich in vitamin E.
- Beets’ rich red color means that they are an especially good source of cancer-fighting antioxidants.
- Peas contain lots of iron and folic acid, two nutrients that are especially important for women.
- Broccoli contains more calcium than milk, and twice the vitamin C found in oranges.
- Asparagus is a natural source of magnesium, which can naturally boost your energy.
- Potatoes are rich sources of potassium and iron, essential for healthy blood and muscles. However, most of the nutrients are in the skin.
The Winner Is…
It’s a draw!
Fruits and vegetables both feature incredible nutritive profiles, providing a range of nutrients that make life itself possible. However, because fruits are more sugary than vegetables, the best way to fit them into your lifestyle is to soothe sugar cravings with fruit. You’ll satisfy your sweet tooth, while also getting a dose of vitamins. If vegetables aren’t a part of your lifestyle already, start with including at least one vegetable at dinner.