Why Fruits & Vegetables Are Vital

8 Sep 2017 entries, news

More than 90 percent of adults and children don’t eat the recommended amount of fruits and vegetables. September is National Fruits & Veggies — More Matters Month, an awareness initiative designed to help you focus your attention on eating fruits and vegetables.

UBMD Ortho nutritionist, Tara Richards, PA-C, stresses that while fruits and vegetables are very good for you, they shouldn’t be treated as equals. “A lot of fruit can equal a lot of sugar,” Richards states. She recommends berries because they have optimal benefits and limited sugar.

It can seem complicated to meet your nutritional needs, but there are two important rules you can remember:

  1. The 50% Rule: Fill half your plate with fruits and vegetables at every eating occasion, even snack times
  2. The Everything Rule: When it comes to fruits and vegetables, everything counts — and that includes fresh, frozen, canned, dried, and juiced options.

Fruits and vegetables are vital to bone health because they’re rich in calcium, magnesium, potassium, Vitamin C, Vitamin D, and Vitamin K. We’ve touched on this topic before, but now we’d like to delve a little bit deeper into the reasons why fruits and vegetables are vital for nutrition and bone health.

  • They’re an unbeatable source of calcium. Calcium is a mineral that’s essential for the proper development of teeth and bones. UBMD Ortho nutritionist, Deanna DeSimone, suggests collard greens, cabbage, and broccoli. “All of these are also high in vitamin C and Vitamin K, which will help with absorption of calcium,” DeSimone explains.
  • They’ll help you absorb & use calcium. Getting enough calcium is one thing. Helping your body absorb it is another. To do it, you’ll need to boost your Vitamin D intake. In addition to exposing yourself to sunlight, which causes your body to produce Vitamin D, there are a variety of foods that are rich in this important vitamin.
  • They help your body keep calcium. If your body is absorbing calcium, it’s also excreting it. Vitamin K (found in leafy greens) not only helps the body make protein for healthy bones, it can also reduce the amount of calcium the body excretes.
  • They help ensure bone strength. Strong bones are a must — and that’s where magnesium comes in. This mineral makes bones stronger and firmer (and also makes your teeth harder). It also plays an essential role in helping your body absorb and metabolize calcium. DeSimone says, “Magnesium can be found in green leafy vegetables as well as in nuts and seeds, beans, whole grains, avocados, and even dark chocolate!”
  • They help prevent bone depletion. Substances like metabolic acids, which your body produces naturally, “eat away” at bone like acid rain eats away at a stone statue. Potassium neutralizes these acids and helps your body conserve calcium. Did you know that 1 avocado, 1 cup of acorn squash, 1 cup of spinach, 1 large sweet potato, a filet of salmon, and a pomegranate each contain more potassium than a large banana?
  • They promote bone mass. It’s no coincidence that calcium starts with a C. Like calcium, Vitamin C is essential for bone health. It suppresses cells that destroy bone and stimulates the body’s production of bone-building cells. Thanks to this finely balanced process, Vitamin C promotes healthy and constant bone renewal, critical to increased bone mass and lower fracture rates. Vitamin C is in more than just oranges! DeSimone suggests red peppers, kale, brussels sprouts, broccoli, and strawberries.

Eat The Rainbow

To be sure you’re getting enough of these important vitamins and minerals, there’s a simple rule you can follow: eat the rainbow. (As with all dietary changes, consult your doctor before you begin.) You can use this list from the National Osteoporosis Foundation to identify fruits and vegetables rich in these vitamins and minerals. There are foods from almost every color of the rainbow, like red peppers, oranges, bananas, green leafy vegetables, and raisins. Who knew bone health could taste so good?

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