A nutritious diet can serve as a strong foundation for a long, healthy life. Fruits and vegetables are the building blocks of a nutritious diet as they are loaded with nutrients that serve the body in myriad ways.
• Calcium: Dark leafy greens like kale, spinach, broccoli, and bok choy contain calcium. Calcium is also found in fruits, including papayas and oranges. According to the National Institutes of Health, the body uses calcium to build and maintain strong bones. In fact, the NIH notes that almost all of the body’s calcium is stored in the bones and teeth, where this vital mineral provides structure and hardness. Calcium also helps the nerves carry messages from the brain to every part of the body.
• Fiber: Dietary fiber is found in various fruits and vegetables. The Cleveland Clinic notes that berries like raspberries and blackberries contain significant amounts of fiber. Pears, artichoke hearts, and Brussels sprouts are also packed with fiber. A high-fiber diet helps stabilize bowel movements and maintain colon health, and WebMD notes that studies have found a link between a high-fiber diet and a lower risk of colon cancer. Studies have also linked high-fiber foods to heart-friendly results like reduced inflammation and lower cholesterol.
• Magnesium: The Mayo Clinic reports that magnesium supports muscle and nerve function and energy production. Individuals with chronically low magnesium levels could be at increased risk of high blood pressure, heart disease, type 2 diabetes, and osteoporosis. The NIH notes that magnesium is widely distributed in plants. That means it’s found in a variety of fruits and vegetables, including spinach, edamame, black beans, bananas, and broccoli. Magnesium levels in these foods vary significantly, so anyone concerned about magnesium deficiency can talk to their doctor about the best, healthiest ways to add more into their diet.
• Vitamin A: According to the Harvard TH Chan School of Public Health, vitamin A stimulates white blood cell production and activity, helps maintain healthy cells that line the body’s inner surfaces, and regulates cell growth and cell division needed for reproduction. Leafy green vegetables are a good source of vitamin A, as are orange and yellow vegetables like carrots and squash. Vitamin A is also found in cantaloupe, apricots and mangoes.
• Potassium: Dietary guidelines for Americans, established by the United States Department of Agriculture, suggest vegetables, lima beans, Swiss chard, baked potatoes (with skin), and yams as great sources of potassium. Kiwi, cantaloupe, cantaloupe, and bananas are other sources of potassium. The TH Chan School of Public Health reports that the main role of potassium in the body is to maintain normal fluid levels in cells. Potassium also supports normal blood pressure.
The nutrients found in various fruits and vegetables go a long way in building stronger, healthier bodies.