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May 6, 2013

Health-Promoting Components of Fruits and Vegetables in the Diet

Rui Hai Liu, MD, PhD

Abstract

Regular consumption of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and other plant foods has been negatively correlated with the risk of the development of chronic diseases. There is a huge gap between the average consumption of fruits and vegetables in Americans and the amount recommended by the 2010 Dietary Guidelines for Americans. The key is to encourage consumers to increase the total amount to 9 to 13 servings of fruits and vegetables in all forms available. Fresh, processed fruits and vegetables including frozen and canned, cooked, 100% fruit juices and 100% vegetable juices, as well as dry fruits are all considered as servings of fruits and vegetables per day. A wide variety of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and other plant foods provide a range of nutrients and different bioactive compounds including phytochemicals, vitamins, minerals, and fibers. Potatoes serve as one of the low-fat foods with unique nutrients and phytochemical profiles, particularly rich in vitamin C, vitamin B-6, potassium, manganese, and dietary fibers. Potatoes provide 25% of vegetable phenolics in the American diet, the largest contributors among the 27 vegetables commonly consumed in the United States, including flavonoids (quercetin and kaempferol), phenolic acids (chlorogenic acid and caffeic acid), and carotenoids (lutein and zeaxanthin). More and more evidence suggests that the health benefits of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and other plant foods are attributed to the synergy or interactions of bioactive compounds and other nutrients in whole foods. Therefore, consumers should obtain their nutrients, antioxidants, bioactive compounds, and phytochemicals from a balanced diet with a wide variety of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and other plant foods for optimal nutrition, health, and well-being, not from dietary supplements.

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References

  1. Rui Hai Liu, Health-Promoting Components of Fruits and Vegetables in the Diet, Advances in Nutrition, Volume 4, Issue 3, May 2013, Pages 384S–392S, https://doi.org/10.3945/an.112.003517
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