Full nutrition facts on fruits and vegetables can be found anywhere from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration's website to most doctors' offices. Obviously, not all fruits and vegetables are nutritional powerhouses, but most of the time, you can be assured that whenever you choose a fruit or vegetable instead of something processed, you are doing something good for you.
Nutrition Facts on Fruits and Vegetables
Although mothers have been exhorting their reluctant children to eat their vegetables for decades, it is only recently that the majority of the population has wanted to know exactly what is in them. And while the health benefits of fruits and vegetables have been understood for centuries, specific vitamin and mineral contents are things that have been delineated over time.
What you want to look for in a balanced intake of fruits and vegetables is a combination of vitamins, minerals and fiber. Since no one wants to carry around a nutritional chart, one handy rule to follow when shopping or cooking is to look for color. The more intense a color, the more nutritional the product. So while iceberg lettuce is better than no lettuce at all, be aware that its nutritional content is mostly water and fiber and your salads and sandwiches will pack more punch if loaded up with dark leafy greens like spinach, arugula and kale.
For the qualities of the specific fruits and vegetables you like or are interested in trying, you can go to the FDA's site and download information. Or, if you want to start smaller, you can go to Health-Garden, which lists all the most common fruits and vegetables.
Having some basic nutrition facts on fruits and vegetables, such as the vitamin content in apples, is useful, but to a certain extent, it's not necessary. What's more important is knowing how to gain the full impact of a fruit or vegetable's nutritional value. For example, any vegetable that is cooked too long will lose a lot of nutrients. But some vegetables, like carrots, actually give you more vitamin A when they have been lightly cooked, as opposed to anything with vitamin C, which will lose potency when cooked.
Storing food too long will sap it of its nutrients. Obviously, immediate eating is simply not possible for most families, but the trick is to buy produce that is as fresh as possible. The trouble with most supermarkets is that the food is trucked in over a long distance, so while it may look good, it may have not seen its tree or vine for weeks. You can ask your local market to provide information on food shipment, but your best bet is to buy produce at a local farmers' market. The food will usually have been picked only that morning or the night before (you can ask) and trucked in from a comparatively short distance. Even if you have to keep the pears and parsnips a week or more, they will still have more nutritional value than most supermarket produce.
Never Fear Fruits and Vegetables
Fad diets and rumors make people shy from fruits like melon, because of their high sugar content, and avocados, which are high in fat. Even carrots are verboten in some diets because of a high carbohydrate content. One of the most important nutrition facts on fruits and vegetables is that, in their natural form, they are the healthiest food choices available. True, an avocado contains fat, but fat is necessary for a healthy diet and plant fat is more easily digested than animal fat. Additionally, an avocado is full of vitamins A, B, C, E, H, K and folic acid, as well as magnesium, copper, iron, calcium and potassium. In fact, the more you learn about the nutrients in most fruits and vegetables, the more appealing a complete vegetarian or vegan diet will become!