Getting the Most Out of Your Fruits and Vegetables

Since the boys were little, I have been supplementing their diets with children’s multivitamin supplements because I was concerned that their picky eating (especially with Aristotle) meant that they weren’t getting all the nutrients a healthy growing body required. Unfortunately, it appears that consumption of supplements can be more of a psychological benefit than a physical one because our body’s ability to absorb the nutrients from a pill may not be as effective as it is when absorbing them through the consumption of natural foods.

“It is generally best to get your vitamins (as well as minerals) naturally from foods or, in the case of vitamin D, controlled sun exposure.” – Consumer Labs

As Aristotle grew older and more open to trying new foods, I introduced veggie smoothies to encourage him to consume other fruits and vegetables he otherwise would not consume on their own. Even though we have made progress  in getting the boys to consume their vegetables neat, the green smoothies are still the best way to ensure they get their “5 a day”. They also consume a larger quantity than they would if they were eating their vegetables on their own.

Green Smootie

What about all those pesticides?

One of the main concerns about fruits and vegetables is the level of pesticides and chemicals on them. The answer for some has been to avoid eating them or at least reduce consumption. Unfortunately, that also means reduced intake of vitamins and minerals that these fruits and vegetables provide which are then supplemented with multi-vitamin pills that have poorer absorption.

The health benefits of a diet rich in fruits and vegetables outweigh the risks of pesticide exposure. Eating conventionally grown produce is far better than skipping fruits and vegetables.” – Environmental Working Group

So it is better to eat your fruits and veggies even if they do contain pesticides than not to eat them at all. Of course, the ideal is still to get rid of as much pesticides as possible and this can be achieved by:

  • consuming organic produce
  • cleaning thoroughly
    • wash thoroughly with running water (scrub the skin where possible)
    • wash fruit with peel even if you are removing the peel
    • dry before eating
    • avoid soap or special rinses because they introduce other chemicals and aren’t really any more effective than washing with water

What about cleaning with vinegar?

Washing with plain water is usually sufficient.

“research has shown that using just plain old water can remove 98% of the bacteria when it is used to rinse and soak produce. Simply washing produce will remove any bacteria or other residues on your produce.” – Best Food Facts

If you do use vinegar, you have to be sure that the concentration of vinegar is high enough to be effective.

“research has shown that a 3 part water to 1 part vinegar is most effective” – Best Food Facts

Preserving nutrients in fruits and vegetables

Fruits and vegetables will start to lose their nutrients over time so here are some of the best ways to avoid that:

  • buy them fresh
  • consume them within a few days of purchase
  • nutrients are lost when you cut and store them so only wash, peel and cut them when you are ready to consume them
  • freeze them if you cannot consume them quickly – freezing can preserve the nutrients for longer

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