Fruits and vegetables are one of the foundations for a healthy diet. These two food groups are full of nutrients needed for good health and the prevention of diseases. Eating healthy can lower the risk of many chronic diseases like heart disease and diabetes.
Healthy eating is also important to lower the costs of insurance premiums for health and life insurance. In fact, term life insurance for a diabetic person can be more costly or difficult to obtain.
Eating plenty of fruits and vegetables is one great lifestyle choice to lower the risk of developing diabetes or other chronic health issues that impact other aspects of life.
The Vital Nutrients of Fruits and Vegetables
The healthy nutrients in fruits and vegetables include vitamins like vitamin K, vitamin C, vitamin E, and folate. Minerals found in fruits and vegetables include potassium, calcium, and magnesium. These two food groups also have fiber, phytochemicals, and antioxidants, which all have health benefits for our bodies.
One good tip is to eat a rainbow of colorful fruits and vegetables.
The different colors of fruits and vegetables represent different phytochemicals and antioxidants that help boost health in many different ways. Antioxidants help protect the cells from damage from free radicals and lower inflammation in the body. Free radicals are produced from smoking, pollution, UV rays, exercise, and normal body processes.
In no particular order, here are ten of the most nutritious fruits and vegetables. Try to incorporate these fruits and vegetables into your regular eating pattern, but also remember to eat a variety of different fruits and vegetables.
Top Fruits to Eat
People often find fruit easier to eat, since fruit is sweeter. Fruit can be a healthy substitute for dessert. Here are some of the most nutritious fruits you should be incorporating into your daily diet.
#1 – Cantaloupe
Cantaloupe is a refreshing summer sweet treat. This fruit is high in phytochemicals called carotenoids, which help give cantaloupe the orange color. Carotenoids are full of antioxidants that can help fight cancer. Some are also converted to vitamin A, which is important for healthy vision.
This tasty fruit also has potassium, which helps normalize blood pressure, serves as an electrolyte for fluid balance, and is important for muscle and nerve functioning. Cantaloupe also has vitamin C, which is important for collagen formation and boosting immunity. Vitamin C is also an antioxidant.
One cup of cantaloupe has only about 50 calories. Make sure you wash the outside of the cantaloupe before cutting into the fruit. If there is dirt on the outside, you can use a small brush on the outside of the cantaloupe before eating it.
#2 – Kiwi
Kiwi is a sweet and tasty treat that is high in fiber and low in calories. Kiwi is also high in Vitamin K, vitamin C, folate, and potassium. Vitamin K is important for bones and helps our blood to clot. Folate is important for red blood cell function and DNA.
Most people prefer to peel kiwi before eating, but the peel is edible. The peel is a good source of fiber. Kiwis can be eaten alone, added to a smoothie, used in a yogurt parfait, or in different tasty recipes. One kiwi has less than 50 calories.
#3 – Strawberries
Strawberries are tasty, convenient, and versatile. Other types of berries like blueberries, raspberries, and blackberries also have a variety of healthy nutrients and health benefits.
Strawberries just need a quick wash and removal of the stem before eating. They can be eaten alone or added to oatmeal, cereal, or desserts. Strawberries are also great in a spinach salad. Frozen strawberries are also great to keep on hand to add to smoothies or protein shakes.
Strawberries are high in vitamin C, folate, potassium, and fiber. They are also low in calories because eight strawberries only have about 50 calories.
#4 – Watermelon
Watermelon is another refreshing summer fruit. Watermelon is very high in water, which is why it can taste so refreshing on a hot summer day. It is also very low in calories. Two cups of watermelon have less than 100 calories.
Watermelon has carotenoids that help fight diseases and protect the cells of the body, and it also has vitamin C and potassium.
#5 – Mangoes
Mangoes have carotenoids, vitamin C, vitamin K, vitamin B6, fiber, potassium, and folate. One cup of mango only has about 100 calories. Vitamin B6 is important for energy metabolism and healthy red blood cells.
Mangos are delicious when eaten alone, but can also be added to smoothies or yogurt parfaits. Mangoes can also be made into a sweet salsa or a tasty chutney spread.
Top Vegetables to Eat
Here are the top veggies that are nutrient-rich and can be easily added to your diet in a variety of recipes.
#6 – Sweet potatoes
Sweet potatoes are a delicious vegetable that is in season in the fall but can be eaten year-round. Sweet potatoes can be eaten as a side dish and can be eaten baked, cubed, mashed, or made into fries.
Sweet potatoes are very high in potassium and carotenoids, like beta-carotene. They also have fiber, vitamin K, and vitamin C. One cup of sweet potatoes has about 100 calories.
#7 – Spinach
It’s no secret that spinach and other leafy greens are some of the most healthy vegetables you can eat. Spinach is full of nutrients and can be eaten cooked or raw. Raw spinach can be used for a salad or added to a wrap or sandwich in place of iceberg lettuce.
Spinach is very low in calories. Two cups of raw spinach has only about 20 calories.
Spinach is very high in vitamin K and lutein. It also has a healthy dose of carotenoids, potassium, magnesium, and fiber. Lutein is one important antioxidant for good vision and protecting our eyesight.
#8 – Red Bell Peppers
Red bell peppers are sweet, tasty, and versatile. They can be eaten raw or cooked in a variety of recipes. Orange and yellow bell peppers are also in the same boat as red bell peppers.
One large red bell pepper only has about 50 calories and is chock-full of nutrients. Red bell peppers have more vitamin C than an orange. They also have lutein, vitamin K, potassium, and fiber.
#9 – Carrots
Carrots are another vegetable that can be eaten raw or cooked. Shredded carrots can be added to salads and many recipes. Raw carrots are tasty as a snack or as part of a veggie tray. You can make a healthy dip for raw carrots using plain Greek yogurt and a packet of ranch seasoning.
Carrots have vitamin K, lutein, fiber, potassium, and vitamin C. Carrots are also very low in calories. Half a cup of carrots or eight baby carrots only has about 30 calories.
#10 – Broccoli
Broccoli is a nutrient-rich vegetable that has a variety of health benefits. Broccoli can also be eaten raw or cooked and is typically a reasonably priced vegetable. Fresh and frozen broccoli are typically inexpensive and convenient.
One cup of broccoli is about the size of a baseball and only has about 60 calories.
Broccoli is also high in vitamin C. However, keep in mind that cooking destroys vitamin C, so raw broccoli will have a little bit more than cooked broccoli. Steaming helps retain more of the vitamin C than boiling in water.
Bonus Food: Avocado
Avocados are high in fiber and heart-healthy unsaturated fat. There is research to support the health benefits of avocados. Avocados can help control blood sugar levels, improve heart health, improve blood pressure, and boost cognitive function.
Avocados are higher in calories than other vegetables, but that’s due to the heart-healthy unsaturated fats. One-half of an avocado contains about 100 calories.
Eat the Rainbow
These fruits and vegetables are packed full of healthy nutrients, like vitamins, minerals, and fiber. Try to get a rainbow of colorful fruits and vegetables in your daily and weekly meals including the ones from this list.
Melissa Morris writes for the life insurance comparison site, QuickQuote.com. She has an MS in exercise science, is an ACSM certified exercise physiologist, and an ISSN certified sports nutritionist.