I eat more vegetables than recommended and less fruit; should I eat fewer vegetables?

No! You should not decrease your consumption of vegetables in order to eat more fruit! In fact, if I were absolutely forced to pick only one category of food to eat, I would pick vegetables over fruit every time. Although both of these food groups contain some fantastic antioxidant nutrients, fiber, vitamin C, and unique phytonutrients, you're not going to find diverse sources of minerals or B vitamins among the fruits. Alternatively, vegetables (as a group) can provide all of these nutrients in significant amounts. That being said, I would never want to choose only one of these food categories because both can make such fantastic contributions to an optimal diet. In addition, when you compare fruits and vegetables to the other food groups, you'll find that they have many characteristics in common. Let's now take a closer look at some of the benefits that each of these food groups can provide.

Both fruits and vegetables provide our body with rich sources of water-soluble vitamins, which are required everyday. Unlike fat-soluble vitamins (such as vitamin E, A and D), which our bodies can store for future use, the water-soluble vitamins (vitamin C and the B vitamins—B1, B2, B3, B5, B6, B12, and folic acid), are needed every single day for our bodies to function optimally since they can't be stored or can only be stored in very small amounts. Vitamins are called essential nutrients because our bodies cannot produce them, and the best way to obtain them is through the foods that you eat. Both fruits and vegetables also provide a rich source of health-promoting phytonutrients (plant nutrients), such as carotenoids, flavonoids, and organic acids (such as ellagic acid), which act as antioxidants and are responsible for much of their coloration.

Like all food groups, however, fruits definitely have their own unique set of nutrients and health benefits. For example, whole oranges—like most whole fruits—contain several hundred phytonutrients in their skin, pulp, and core. Some of these phytonutrients are unique to oranges and help provide them with their special and delicious flavors.

Health-promoting flavonoid phytonutrients called anthocyanins provide fruits, as well as some vegetables, with their red and purple coloration. Blueberries, plums, and strawberries are examples of fruits whose lustrous shades of red or purple correspond to their high anthocyanin content. These phytonutrients act as antioxidants that can help reduce the effects of harmful free radical activity and related risk of disease. Once again, there may be certain phytonutrients that are available only in particular fruits.

While fruits and vegetables contain some similar nutrients, there are ones found in each food group that are unique. Therefore, it would be optimal if you can find some fresh fruits that you can enjoy.

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