Veggie Facts

Tomatoes are better for you when cooked
Tomatoes are a good source of lycopene, a phytochemical that makes them red and has significant antioxidant properties. The nutrients in broccoli and carrots are also improved by cooking. 
Lycopene is also soluble in oil, so crushing tomatoes in olive oil will help break down the cells and extract more of the chemical, and make it easier to be absorbed in our body.
Of course, cooking does lower the amount of vitamin C, but the increase in other nutrients more than compensates for this.

Juice and smoothies ….  only a small glass at a time!
Juice and smoothies are high in sugar, as extra sugars are released when the cells are crushed. This means they can cause tooth decay, and are also very high in calories, so stick to 1 small glass (150ml) a day.
150ml of unsweetened 100% fruit juice or vegetable juice is the maximum you need for 1 portion of your 5 A Day, no matter how many different types of fruit or vegetables go into them.

Darker-coloured greens are better than pale

The darker green a leafy vegetable is, the healthier it is (contains more antioxidants and iron, amongst other things)
….. eg watercress and kale will contain more vitamins and minerals than, say, iceberg lettuce

Coloured fruit and veg are often better for you
eg Deep red berries, currants and grapes, as well as aubergine (in the skin), red cabbage and cherries, contain high concentrations of Anthocyanins which have antioxidant properties.
Yellow veg and fruit like carrots, sweet potatoes mango, papaya and apricots contain large amounts of beta carotene which your body can convert into Vitamin A .

However, this isn’t always true as white beans have higher levels of iron, potassium, and protein than black beans.

Brussel sprouts really are good for you!

Well, not just brussel sprouts… all of the Brassica family. Brassicas (see below) contain high levels of vitamin C, A, E, K, as well as folate, calcium, iron, potassium and phosphorus. They are a good source of dietary fibre and have something that no other fruits or vegetables contain, namely glucosinolates.
See How to cook brussel sprouts so that they taste delicious and don’t smell!


Why eat fruit and vegetables

  • Fruit and vegetables are good sources of vitamins and minerals, including folate, vitamin C and potassium.(Folate (vitamin B-9) is important in red blood cell formation and for healthy cell growth and function. The nutrient is crucial during early pregnancy to reduce the risk of birth defects of the brain and spine. Folate is found mainly in dark green leafy vegetables, beans, peas and nuts.)
  • They’re an excellent source of dietary fibre, which can help to maintain a healthy gut and prevent constipation and other digestion problems.
    A diet high in fibre can also reduce your risk of bowel cancer.
  • They can help to reduce your risk of heart disease, stroke and some types of cancer.

(Links in this paragraph point to the NHS website, in their section on health)

More about Cruciferous vegetables
(The Brassicas)

Cruciferous vegetables are part of the Brassica genus of plants. They include the following vegetables, among others:

  • Broccoli, Cauliflower, Cabbage, Kale, Bok choy, Rocket, Brussels sprouts, Watercress, Radishes

Most cruciferous vegetables are rich in vitamins and minerals such as folate (B9) and vitamin K.

Vitamin B9 moves through your system quickly, so it’s an important vitamin to consume regularly

The darker they are, the healthier….   Dark green cruciferous veggies also are a source of vitamins A and C and contain phytonutrients — plant-based compounds that may help to lower inflammation and reduce the risk of developing cancer.

Other healthy, non-cruciferous plants

  • Asparagus
    Asparagus can help with weight loss, help prevent urinary tract infections, promote reproductive health, and even be a mood booster. It is packed with nutrients, including vitamins A, C, E, K, and B6, folate, iron, potassium, copper, calcium, and protein. Plus, it’s a rich source of antioxidants.
  • Carrots
    Carrots are second only to sweet potatoes as an excellent source of beta-carotene (vitamin A). Vitamin A is needed for healthy skin, bones and teeth as well as to fight sickness.
    Carrots are a fair source of B vitamins, like niacin and B6, which help our bodies use energy from foods. B vitamins are important for growth and healthy skin, hair, nerves and muscles.
    Carrots are also a fair source of vitamin C, which keeps our gums, teeth and skin healthy.
  • Chard
    Swiss chard, which is a member of the chenopod family, is a highly nutritious dark leafy green vegetable. Other well-known chenopods include beets, spinach, and quinoa. Swiss chard is an excellent source of vitamin K, and a good source of vitamin A, magnesium, manganese, and copper. In its raw. form, it is a good source of vitamin C.
    Note that Swiss chard contains oxalic acid but this can be reduced by cooking.
  • Cucumbers
    Cucumbers contain most of the vitamins you need every day, just one cucumber contains Vitamin B1, Vitamin B2, Vitamin B3, Vitamin B5, Vitamin B6, Folic Acid, Vitamin C, Calcium, Iron, Magnesium, Phosphorus, Potassium and Zinc.
    ……find out more about cucumbers
  • Garlic
     Garlic contains vitamins C and B6, manganese and selenium, but it’s a chemical called allicin, a type of antioxidant, which is thought to be responsible for its positive effects.
    Allicin has antibacterial properties and is effective against a broad range of bacteria including some E.coli.  Garlic has also been shown to lower blood pressure and cholesterol levels.
    Raw garlic has greater health benefits than cooked garlic.

  • Ginger
    Ginger helps digestion. It has also been shown to have anti-inflammatory, antibacterial, and antiviral properties. Ginger root increases antibody production and many people drink ginger tea at the onset of a cold.
    Ginger also acts as a natural blood thinner due to the presence of Salicylates.

  • Sweet Potatoes
    Fruit and vegetables are high in antioxidants, compounds that help defend the body against damage by ‘free radicals’ The antioxidants in the peel of sweet potatoes reduce the damage caused by free radicals and so help guard against the risk of cancer.
    Sweet potatoes are also very rich in beta-carotene (vitamin A) which helps support the immune system.

Some useful links

Fun Fruit and vegetable facts   Interesting site for children

Vitamins and Minerals  From the NHS site

Fruit and Vegetables in season (and how to cook them)
Useful information from The Kent Farmers Market Association