There is a great deal of debate over what constitutes a healthy diet, and the type of foods we should eat to provide us with energy. The variety of diets people follow can be influenced by age, medical conditions, religion, and ethical considerations.Nearly all dietary regimes include a significant proportion of fruit and vegetables. The vast range of fruit and vegetables means there are significant differences in nutritional content, and understanding these differences can help when planning a balanced diet.
Fruit & Vegetable Nutritional Composition
On this page we look at the nutritional composition of fruit and vegetables, specifically how much of this energy is stored as protein, fat, fibre, and carbohydrates, as well as their overall calorific content. For each type of nutrient, we provide quick look up tables to find fruit and vegetables high (and low) in each essential nutrient type.
A healthy diet also contains a healthy balance of vitamins and minerals, and regularly eating fruit and vegetables can supply a large proportion of these. Use the links on this page to navigate to these sections.
The nutritional information has been compiled* by us from information freely available and published by the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) statistics on the nutritional make up of food, and combined* with European Food Information Council (EUFIC) information on Recommended Daily Allowances.
Please note the information shown on this website is for comparison purposes only, and is not intended as dietary or medical advice. Please see our disclaimer for further information.
*Based on information as published on their websites in January 2015
Carbohydrate In Fruit & Vegetables
The three main types of carbohydrate are fibre (discussed below), sugars, and starch. Sugars and starch are excellent sources of energy. Carbohydrates are a subject of much discussion by nutritionists, as unused energy from carbohydrates can be stored in our bodies as fat.
It is generally recommended to eat starchy carbohydrates rather than sugars, as these release energy slowly and consistently through a day, often meaning people feel less hungry and therefore eat less. Fruit and vegetables are natural sources of starchy carbohydrates, and foods like bread, pasta, and potatoes are high in starchy carbohydrates.
Calories In Fruit & Vegetables
Carbodydrates are our bodies main source of energy, and in the absense of carbohydrates, our bodies use energy from fat and protein as alternative energy sources. This can help people lose weight.
Fruit and vegetables are good sources of carbohyrates, but if your dietary goal is to boost or cut down the total amount of energy (calories) you are consuming, you may like to compare differences in calorie levels between crops.
Protein In Fruit & Vegetables
Proteins are molecules that are made up of collections of amino acids. There are 20 key proteins that are are essential to the way our bodies function. Approximately 17% of our body is made of protein.
Fruit and vegetables contain protein in relatively small amounts, and apart from in soy, do not contain the essential complete proteins that our bodies need (ie with the right amount and variety of amino acids). However, our bodies are able to manufacture 11 of the 20 key proteins that we need to live.
Foods rich in protein include red and white meat, fish, eggs, dairy products, nuts and seeds. Eating fruit and vegetables, when combined with other dietary sources of protein, helps our body to put together the required 20 key proteins.
Fibre In Fruit & Vegetables
Eating fibre is thought to provide increased protection against heart disease and some cancers, as well as helping our digestive system to work properly. Many fruit and vegetables are good sources of dietary fibre. Meat and diary products do not contain fibre.
There are two main types of dietary fibre. Soluble dietary fibre can be digested by our body, is thought to lower cholesterol, and helps our digestive tract. Insoluble fibre is not digested, but helps keep our bowels healthy. Fruit and vegetables mainly contain soluble fibre, where as wholemeal foods, cereals, nuts, and seeds contain insoluble fibre.
Fat In Fruit & Vegetables
Fats in food provide between a quarter and a half our bodies energy needs, and our bodies are good at storing fat for when energy is needed. There are many different varieties of fat, from saturated fats, to trans fats, and unsaturated fats.
Fruit and vegetables grown in the UK are typically low fat food sources. At time of writing, the NHS encourages people to eat oily fish, nuts, seeds, sunflower, and olive oil to provide the dietary fats our bodies need.
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