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TEXARKANA, Ark. –
Most fruits and vegetables are naturally low in fat, low in calories, and are cholesterol
free. It is when we take them from their natural state and add sugars, fats and sodium
that they can become unhealthy. The good news is that fruits and vegetables are important
sources of many nutrients including vitamins, fiber and phytochemicals. What are these
and why do we need them?
By definition, vitamins are organic compounds needed in small quantities to sustain
life. We get vitamins from food, because the human body either does not produce enough
or none at all.
There are two types of vitamins, fat-soluble and water-soluble. Fat-soluble vitamins
are stored in the fat tissues of our bodies, as well as the liver. These vitamins
are easier to store than water-soluble ones, and can stay in the body as reserves
for days, some of them for months. Examples would include Vitamins A, D, E and K.
Water-soluble vitamins do not get stored in the body for long; they soon get expelled
through urine. Water-soluble vitamins need to be replaced more often than fat-soluble
ones. Vitamins C and all the B vitamins are water-soluble.
Fruits and vegetables are rich in many nutrients such as potassium, folate and vitamins
A and C. Diets rich in potassium may help maintain a healthy blood pressure. Potassium
can be found in sweet potatoes, potatoes, greens, spinach, mushrooms, lima beans,
peas, bananas, tomatoes, tomato juice and tomato sauce (look for low-sodium versions),
oranges and orange juice, raisins, prunes and prune juice, dates, cantaloupe and honeydew
Folate or folic acid helps the body form red blood cells. Folate is found naturally
in a wide variety of foods, including vegetables, especially dark green leafy vegetables,
fruits and fruit juices, nuts, beans, peas, dairy products, poultry and meat, eggs,
seafood, and grains. Spinach, liver, yeast, asparagus, and Brussels sprouts are among
the foods with the highest levels of folate.
Vitamin A keeps eyes and skin healthy and helps protect against infections. Vitamin
A comes from leafy green vegetables, orange and yellow vegetables, tomato products,
fruits, and some vegetable oils. The top food sources of vitamin A in the U.S. diet
include dairy products, liver, fish, and fortified cereals.
Vitamin C is important for growth and the repair of all body tissues, helps heal cuts
and wounds, and keeps teeth and gums healthy. Two little known fruits have the highest
vitamin C contents of all foods. The Kakadu plum grows natively across the top end
of Northern Australia and the camu camu fruit which grows in the Amazon Rainforest
in the Republic of Peru. You can’t get these here in our area, but if you visit a
larger town you may find them.
More common forms of vitamin c would be cantaloupe, citrus fruits and juices, kiwi
fruit, mango, papaya, pineapple, strawberries, raspberries, blueberries, cranberries
and watermelon. In vegetables consume broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cauliflower, green
and red peppers, spinach, cabbage, turnip greens, and other leafy greens, sweet and
white potatoes, tomatoes and tomato juice and winter squash.
All fruits and vegetables are good sources of dietary fiber. Dietary fiber helps reduce
blood cholesterol levels and may lower your risk of heart disease. Fiber is important
for proper bowel function. Foods containing fiber help you feel full longer with fewer
calories. Some of the best fruit and vegetable sources are: apples, oranges, berries,
prunes, pears, green peas, and artichokes.
Phytochemicals are plant chemical compounds that have many potential health-promoting
properties. Different fruits and vegetables have different phytochemicals that provide
a variety of benefits. While different colors of fruits and vegetables contain different
phytochemicals. The best way to make sure you are getting the maximum benefit from
all phytochemicals is to eat a rainbow of colors.
Fruits and vegetables are a powerhouse of good nutrition, and provide many of the
nutrients we need to maintain a healthy diet. Vegetables are still available at the
Gateway Farmers Market. Look for different squash, turnip greens, kale, and other
cool season vegetables. If you are early, enough you still be able to find red tomatoes.
For more information, contact the Miller County Extension Office, 870-779-3609 or
visit us in room 215 at the Miller County Courthouse. We are online at email@example.com,
on Facebook at UAEXMillerCountyFCS/CarlaDue, on Twitter @MillerCountyFCS or on the
web at uaex.uada.edu/Miller.
By Carla Due County Extension Agent - FCSThe Cooperative Extension ServiceU of A System Division of Agriculture
Media Contact: Carla Due County Extension Agent - FCSU of A Division of AgricultureCooperative Extension Service400 Laurel Street, Suite 215 Texarkana AR 71854 (870) 779-3609 firstname.lastname@example.org
The Arkansas Cooperative Extension Service is an equal opportunity/equal access/affirmative
action institution. If you require a reasonable accommodation to participate or need
materials in another format, please contact your County Extension office (or other
appropriate office) as soon as possible. Dial 711 for Arkansas Relay. The Arkansas Cooperative Extension Service offers its programs to all eligible persons
regardless of race, color, sex, gender identity, sexual orientation, national origin,
religion, age, disability, marital or veteran status, genetic information, or any
other legally protected status, and is an Affirmative Action/Equal Opportunity Employer.