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Fruits and Vegetables
Fruits and vegetables are a significant part of the New
Four Food Groups. A healthy vegan or vegetarian diet
relies on fruits and vegetables to provide much of the
fiber, vitamins, minerals, and nutrients needed every
Quick Page Summary: It's important
plenty of fruits (at least 3 servings) and vegetables
(at least 4 servings) every day. Fresh, raw produce
is usually the best choice, but there's benefits to
cooked, canned, and frozen, too. When you can afford
to do so, buy organic produce, as it has the best flavor
and the most nutrients; if you're on a tight budget,
purchase organic produce if the conventional alternative
is typically high in pesticides—like
peaches, apples, bell peppers, celery, nectarines, strawberries,
cherries, imported grapes, spinach, lettuce, and potatoes.
to the Physician
Committee for Responsible Medicine (PCRM), the following
are the daily recommendations for fruits and vegetables.
- Fruits – Three (3) or more servings
Be sure to include at least one (1) serving each day
of fruits that are high in vitamin C—citrus fruits,
melons, and strawberries are all good choices. Choose
whole fruit over fruit juices, which do not contain very
Serving size: 1 medium piece of fruit • 1/2 cup cooked
fruit • 4 ounces juice
- Vegetables – Four (4) or more
servings a day.
Vegetables are packed with nutrients; they provide .
Dark green leafy vegetables, such as broccoli, collards,
kale, mustard and turnip greens, chicory, or cabbage,
are especially good sources of vitamin
C, beta-carotene, riboflavin, iron, calcium, fiber,
and other nutrients.
Dark yellow and orange vegetables such as carrots, winter
squash, sweet potatoes, and pumpkin provide extra beta-carotene.
Include generous portions of a variety of vegetables
in your diet.
Serving size: 1 cup raw vegetables • 1/2 cup cooked
Each fruit and vegetable is unique. To learn about each
type of fruit and vegetable, try visiting the World's
Healthiest Foods List by the George Mateljan Foundation
or the Fruit & Veggie
Database by Fruits & Veggies More Matters™ site.
High fruit and vegetable consumption has been associated
with a reduced risk for cardiovascular disease, several
common cancers, and other chronic diseases (such as macular
degeneration and cataracts).
For the best results, try
to eat a wide variety every day. Deeply colored
vegetables and fruits contain the
most vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants.
This includes all dark green, deep
red, purple, and bright orange or
yellow plant foods. Eat more dark-green
veggies like broccoli, spinach,
and other dark leafy greens.
Tip: If you're trying to lose weight, avoid starchy vegetables
(corn, green lima beans, potatoes, and green peas) in favor
of non-starchy vegetables whenever possible.
The world's healthiest* fruits and
vegetables include the following.
Tip: Items in bold are
the fruits and vegetables that commonly
typically have the most pesticides
(and therefore make the best choices
for buying organic).
- Bell peppers
- Brussels sprouts
- Collard greens
- Fennel bulb
- Green beans
- Green peas
- Mushrooms, Crimini
- Mushrooms, Shiitake
- Mustard greens
- Romaine lettuce
- Sea vegetables
- Squash, summer
- Squash, winter
- Sweet potato, with skin
- Swiss chard
- Tomato, fresh
- Turnip Greens
- Kiwi fruit
- Lemons and limes
*According to the George Mateljan
Foundation. See the "World's
Healthiest Foods" web site
for more information.
Eating organic produce can reduce
the amount of toxic chemicals ingested
and increase the amount of beneficial
vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and
essential fatty acids (like omega 3
and omega 6) consumed.
Organic produce also has other benefits.
Organic produce has also been found
to taste better!
Ideally, you'd eat
nothing but organic produce; unfortunately,
organic produce is more expensive than
conventional foods, and not all of
us can afford an all-organic diet.
For this reason, you may want to limit
your organic purchases to those items
that are typically highest in pesticides
when bought conventionally (non-organic).
Below are the fruits and vegetables
that have the highest amount of pesticides.*
(In other words, if you can only afford
to buy a few organic items--these are
the ones that are the most important.)
For a complete list of vegetables and
fruits, an explanation of the rankings,
and to download a pocket guide for
shopping, please visit FoodNews.com.
|Worst Produce (most pesticide contamination)
||100 (highest pesticide load)
||Sweet Bell Peppers
||Grapes - Imported
|Best Produce (least pesticide contamination)
||1 (lowest pesticide
||Sweet Corn - Frozen
||Sweet Peas - Frozen
are based on information and
studies by USDA, Consumer
Reports, and the Environmental
For more information about organic
produce, see our Organic
Raw, Cooked, Frozen or Canned?
Whether you eat raw, cooked, frozen,
or canned produce may affect the nutritional
value of your produce. All
fruits and vegetables, regardless of
how they are stored or prepared are
healthy and nutritious; however, for
most fruits and vegetables, eating
them raw may give you the maximum nutritional
you boil your veggies, you'll lose
their nutrients in the water. When
cooking them, the best way to retain
water-soluble nutrients is to steam
them in a little water in the microwave.
If you do boil your veggies, save the
water to use as stock for soups and
Some fruits and vegetables may actually
be healthier when eaten frozen or cooked:
squash, tomatoes, and
a variety of orange, green, and red
vegetables are full of carotenoids,
which may help prevent types of cancer,
keep eyes healthy, preserve memory,
and stimulate DNA-repairing enzymes.
These fruits and vegetables are good
for you when eaten raw, but may be
even better for you when they're
cooked or frozen.
is tightly bound to the protein in
a plant, but cooking breaks that
binding apart, making the chemical
more bioavailable in the human body," says
Luke Howard, Ph.D. Additionally, "freezing
breaks down the cellular structures,
which may release carotenoids and
make them more available," says
Wilhelmina Kalt, Ph.D. For even more
nutrients, be sure to eat their peels.
- Spinach has a lot of calcium and antioxidants,
but it's also rich in oxilic acid,
which can interfere with calcium
absorption. Heating (or lightly steaming)
appears to nullify the acid, helping
you to absorb more calcium.
- Buckwheat greens are
toxic when raw, particularly if juiced
or eaten in large quantities by fair-skinned
individuals. The chemical component
fagopyrum is known to cause severe
photosensitivity and other dermatological
- Kidney beans,
including its sprouts,
are toxic when raw.
leaves can be toxic if
eaten raw in sufficient quantity.
- Potatoes contain
toxic compounds, of which the most
prevalent are solanine and chaconine.
Cooking at high temperatures (over
170 °C or 340 °F) partly
destroys these. Cooking also breaks
down the starch and makes them easier
to eat. Tip: Potatoes
produce the toxic alkaloid solanine
when they turn green. Solanine can
be reduced by cooking.
- Common white mushrooms may contain
potential toxic substances. If you're
worried about this, cooking might
reduce the risk, but the amount of
danger to humans is considered negligible;
however, raw mushrooms might harbor
bacteria--cleaning them thoroughly
or cooking them reduces the risk
of consuming bacteria.
Raw foodism is a movement promoting
the consumption of uncooked, unprocessed,
and often organic foods (primarily
consisting of fruits and vegetables),
as a large percentage of the diet.
A raw food diet consists fully of foods
which have not been heated above a
certain temperature (typically 92ºF
[33°C to 48°C]).
Raw foodism promotes the ideas that
the percentage of raw food in the diet,
the greater the health benefits, and
that raw foods can prevent
and/or heal many forms of sickness
and chronic diseases.
If you're interested in adopting a
primarily (or all) raw food diet, or
want to incorporate
more raw foods into your meals, visit
the following sites to learn more.