Why eat vegetables?

Vegetables and greens must be present daily with meals. Rich in various nutrients, these foods help the body in several ways. The vast majority helps to strengthen bones, decrease the chances of suffering from cardiovascular diseases and still has antioxidant action.

In addition to making meals more nutritious, fruits and vegetables can make dishes more tasty and colorful. The variety of products that make up this group is so great that it is possible to find sweet, savory, bitter and citrus foods. In addition, they can be made in different ways, in different dishes.

There is so much variety that you will surely find one that appeals to your palate!

The World Health Organization states that the diet should contain about 400 grams or 5 servings a day of fruits and vegetables. In addition, studies show that people who follow the recommendation have up to 25% less chance of dying from any disease, when compared to people who do not eat any of these foods.

Inserting between 3 and 5 servings of fruits and vegetables in the diet is the basis for those who want to have more balanced meals and achieve a better quality of life.


What are vegetables, fruits and vegetables?

Many people find it difficult to identify the difference between vegetables, and it is from their leaves and fruits that it is possible to differentiate them. In general, we know what it is about: those foods that are in the fruit and vegetable section of the supermarket, but do you know how to differentiate each group?

Fruits or fruits?

Popularly, we call fruits sweet or citrusy foods, such as lemon, which, although not sweet, is classified as fruit. But there is some confusion between what we know as fruits and what botany – the science that studies plants – classifies as fruits.

If you ask a botanist for a fruit salad, it is quite possible that the dish that comes will be composed of tomatoes, eggplant and olives. This is because scientifically, fruits are structures that involve the seed and facilitate its dissemination.

In fact, the fact that most fruits are sweet is explained precisely because of this: the more pleasant – and sweet – flavor of these foods makes the animals attracted to eat them.

As the bugs do not ingest the seeds, they end up dropping them in places generally distant from where they were harvested, causing the fruits to be distributed.

But not all fruit is sweet, for example eggplant and peppers. For science, they are fruits, but in cooking they do not work very well in the middle of the fruit salad. So we started to call these fruits that are not vegetable sweets.

Vegetables came to simplify. As the name suggests, they are green foods and are usually leaves.

To simplify when you go shopping, we can understand the fruit and vegetable section as follows:


When the edible part of the food is the fruit or seeds, we call it vegetables. These vegetables can grow underground, like carrots, and above, like pumpkins.


Vegetables have edible leaves, flowers or stems. In general, they have smaller amounts of calories and carbohydrates , and are eaten raw, like lettuce, or braised, like cabbage.

They are great options for preparing salads and increasing the amount of fiber in meals, helping in the proper functioning of the intestine.

In general, the leaves have very small amounts of calories and carbohydrates, help to give more satiety and are easy to be prepared, since most can be eaten raw.


Fruits have a more sweet or citrus flavor. In general, they have a higher caloric value than leaves, for example.

They are excellent for desserts, sweet cakes, syrups, juices and vitamins . In addition, consuming fruits between meals helps to overcome hunger in a healthy way, because in addition to vitamins, they have fibers, which give satiety and prevent blood sugar from rising too quickly.

Although many people peel them before consuming, nutritionists recommend eating the whole food when possible. For example, apples have a high amount of fiber in the skin, but it is often dispensed with.


Vegetable is a term that does not really exist as a category. Popularly, it is used to designate those foods that are produced and grown in the garden, being a generic and broad term.

Depending on who uses it, you can designate various vegetables and greens. Generally it does not cover fruits, so supermarkets opt for fresh produce.

What is special about them?

In order to perform the organic functions, our body needs several substances, such as proteins , lipids, vitamins and carbohydrates.

Our bodies are able to produce part of the necessary elements from chemical transformations. That is, it is capable of transforming an ingested nutrient into a necessary element to perform some organic function.

But some substances cannot be produced by the body and, therefore, must be ingested through food. They are called essential nutrients, which include vitamins and some amino acids, such as isoleucine, leucine, valine, phenylalanine, methionine, threonine, tryptophan and lysine.

So, for the body to function properly, it is necessary that nutrients are ingested in a balanced way to maintain good health.

Sources of nutrients and vitamins, greens and vegetables can prevent health problems, regulate body functions and enhance the protection of the body. Know the main ones and how they work:


Our body needs vitamins and minerals to perform its functions properly. These substances are called micronutrients because we need to consume small amounts compared to other components, such as carbohydrates and lipids (which are called macronutrients).

Some help in the immune system, such as vitamins A and C, other assist in the formation of bones, such as vitamin K . Minerals such as potassium help prevent high blood pressure , as it relaxes the arteries.

Vitamins behave in different ways within our bodies, so maintaining the variety of food offers a diverse source of these substances. For example, vitamins A, D, E and K are fat soluble, that is, they dissolve in fat. The B vitamins are water soluble and need water to be diluted.

Minerals, on the other hand, are inorganic elements and participate in bone and tissue functions, for example. They are copper, iron, fluoride, iodine, manganese, molybdenum, selenium and zinc.


With the exception of vitamin D, which is currently considered a pre-hormone, the other vitamins cannot be produced by the body. In summary, they perform the following functions:

  • Vitamin A: antioxidant, acting on vision, skin and mucous membranes;
  • Vitamin D: helps in calcium absorption and bone structure;
  • Vitamin K: participates in coagulation and acts on bones;
  • Vitamin E: antioxidant and supportive action of the immune system;
  • Vitamin B1: helps the circulatory system;
  • Vitamin B2: participates in the formation of red cells and antibodies;
  • Vitamin B3: improves circulation, acts on the immune and nervous system;
  • Vitamin B5: participates in the formation of red blood cells and antibodies;
  • Vitamin B6: helps in the maintenance of the central nervous system and the immune system;
  • Vitamin B7: helps in cell growth, in the production of fatty acids;
  • Vitamin B9: participates in the immune, circulatory and nervous systems;
  • Vitamin B12: participates in the synthesis of red blood cells, in addition to the maintenance of the nervous system;
  • Vitamin C: essential for collagen synthesis, participates in glandular regulation and tissue maintenance.


All foods have nutritional tables to make it easier for us to know what we are consuming. If you look at any table, you will see that minerals occupy a good part of it.

These nutrients perform numerous functions in the body and must be ingested through food, as the body is not able to produce them. The main organic functions of these elements are:

  • Calcium: it is an element for the formation and maintenance of bones;
  • Magnesium: participates in calcium absorption and helps in muscle contraction;
  • Sodium: acts on the water balance in the body and also on muscle contraction;
  • Potassium: participates in intracellular maintenance, muscle contraction and energy production;
  • Phosphorus: aids in bone formation and glucose metabolism;
  • Iron: assists in the synthesis of DNA, participates in enzymatic reactions and participates in the transport of oxygen;
  • Copper: participates in the formation of blood and bones;
  • Manganese: necessary for the formation of connective and bone tissues, in addition to participating in cellular protection;
  • Zinc: helps in the immune system, in healing and in the formation of tissues.


Fibers are necessary for the proper functioning of the intestine, in addition to participating in the control of cholesterol. The more fiber a food has, the lower its glycemic index, that is, the carbohydrates will be released more slowly, preventing blood sugar from rising too fast.

The fibers are divided between soluble and insoluble and the vast majority of foods contain both types with different concentrations. In general, they help to reduce obesity , cardiovascular diseases, decrease insulin resistance and prevent gastrointestinal diseases.

To give more satiety, invest in soluble fibers, because – as the name suggests – they dissolve in water and form a kind of gel in the stomach. In addition, they help to reduce the time of intestinal transit, that is, they avoid constipation .

Insoluble fibers, on the other hand, do not interact with water and pass through the digestion process intact. Their main function is to increase the fecal bolus, that is, in the intestine they help to form a more consistent mass and, therefore, facilitate defecation.

But the fibers can only act properly if there is a good intake of water, otherwise the reverse process can occur: instead of preventing constipation, they can be the cause.

Fruits and vegetables have high amounts of soluble and insoluble fiber, mainly in the peels and seeds.


Chlorophyll is responsible for the greenish pigmentation of vegetables and for the capture of sunlight to transform it into energy (that is why it is called a photosynthetic substance). Found in large quantities in edible vegetables.

In the human body, the substance acts as an antioxidant, inhibiting the action of free radicals, in addition to studies that indicate antimutagenic action. That is, chlorophyll prevents cells from undergoing structural changes and therefore reduces the risk of cancer .

As chlorophylls are molecules that have a magnesium atom in their structure, they can increase immunity and act as anti-inflammatory agents, protecting the organism.

Have low calories

Excessive calorie consumption can result in weight gain. Anyone who has ever looked at a diet menu or received a tip to reduce measures, certainly realized that it is necessary to reduce caloric intake.

Vegetables are great options to compose meals, adding few calories to the dish. But a low-calorie diet is not enough, it needs to be balanced and nutritious so that diets are not harmful to the body.

Even some foods, such as more caloric fruits, are good options to compose the dish. This is because they provide necessary nutrients for the body.

See the difference: if you consider the consumption of 100 calories, it is possible to eat 4 units of crackers, for example, or a small banana . The calories are the same, but the biscuit provides almost no nutrients, as the banana is a source of fiber, vitamins A and C, B1, B2, B6 and B12, calcium, potassium, phosphorus, folic acid , iron and magnesium.

In addition, the carbohydrates that the fruit contains are called good carbohydrates, as they are slowly digested by the body, aiding in satiety.

That is, depending on your choice – water and salt biscuits or bananas -, the 100 calories will be able to nourish and satiate you for more or less time.

Increase happiness

A study published in 2016, by the scientific journal American Journal of Public Health, points out that consuming 8 servings of fruits and vegetables daily can help with well-being and happiness.

The survey followed people who included food in meals over 2 years. The researchers believe that the result may be caused by the antioxidants present in vegetables.

The study compared that the degree of happiness of patients who consumed 8 servings of fruits and vegetables is similar to that of people who left unemployment, for example.

Protect the organism

Fruits and vegetables are foods rich in phytochemicals, substances that give more resistance to the organism. Phytochemicals are chemical compounds found or originated from plants. But in addition, they perform beneficial functions to the body.

Among the various phytochemicals are carotenoids, which have a pigmentation function, that is, they give color to foods and, recently, studies have pointed out the relationship with the prevention of diseases, such as cancer.

For example, tomatoes and carrots, which are red and orange in color, are rich in carotenoids and can help fight prostate and breast cancer.

Purple foods, like eggplant and grapes , have high amounts of anthocyanin, which fights free radicals. That is, it prevents the aging of cells, helping to prevent heart and neurological diseases.

Long life

A study published in the scientific journal Journal of Epidemiology looked at people who began to include fruits and vegetables daily in their meals and compared the results with those who did not consume.

The results show that there was a significant improvement in the quality of life and health of patients. This is because those who consumed 200 grams of vegetables and fruits daily had 13% less risk of suffering from cardiovascular disease, reduces the risk of cancer by 4% and there is up to 15% less risk of premature death.

The results already sound quite significant, but the study still points out that if daily consumption is 800 grams, the risks reduce by 28%, 13% and 31% consecutively.

Reduce stress

Some vegetables like spinach contain high amounts of folic acid, a substance that helps regulate serotonin – the hormone related to pleasure and mood. The lack of folic acid can cause insomnia , discouragement, irritability and affect memory.

They give more disposition

Have you noticed that when you exchange lunch for a very caloric snack (like a fastfood), productivity drops quite a few hours after eating? This is due to the carbohydrates in the meal.

Carbohydrates are essential for the body to produce energy, but they can act differently in the body. And quantity is not always the main factor, but quality.

After eating a sandwich, the food is processed and the blood sugar rises quickly. This is because, usually, snacks are high in carbohydrates and low in fiber and protein.

The body needs to release a lot of insulin to regulate blood sugar. As these ingested carbohydrates are quickly converted into energy (and therefore they run out in a short time), there will be no more stock for the body to use. In a few hours, there are sharp drops in blood glucose and, therefore, hunger appears again.

Since the meal is usually high in fat, digestion tends to be even slower. So, even though the body needs sugar again, the feeling of stuffiness can still be present.

On the contrary, fruits, vegetables and vegetables have enough fiber, delaying the release of sugar in the blood. Most vegetables have small amounts of carbohydrates and therefore reduce the need for insulin in the body.

Even when you consume vegetables and fruits with more carbohydrates, they are released slowly into the blood, extending satiety, preventing spikes in blood glucose and providing various nutrients that are not usually present in snacks.

The color of food

Do you know that tip of putting together a very colorful dish? It can be a good method to strengthen the body, minimize the risk of disease and provide more well-being. That’s because each color corresponds to a specific carotenoid.

These micronutrients give yellowish, reddish or orange pigmentation to natural foods. That is, each carotenoid will give a different color to the product. But they have an even more important function than making the dish more colorful: they strengthen the body and prevent disease.

Some of the processes that carotenoids participate in are:

  • Reduction of the risk of degenerative diseases;
  • Inhibition of cancer cell proliferation;
  • Stimulation of cellular communication;
  • Reduction of DNA damage;
  • Improvement of the immune system;
  • Reduction of cardiovascular risks;
  • Protection of vision and reduction of risks to cataracts.

The amount of carotenoids is large, there are approximately 600 types, but only 40 of them are found in food and, of these, 14 can be recognized and digested by our bodies. Among the main ones are:

Beta carotene

Quite related to the production of vitamin A in the body, beta-carotene plays an important role in protecting the skin and vision. It can reduce the risk of metabolic syndrome, which manifests itself with changes in blood glucose, blood pressure and cholesterol levels, for example.

Lutein and Zeaxanthin

They are closely associated with eye health, protecting against age-related degeneration and the development of cataracts .

Lutein is found mainly in dark green foods, such as kale, spinach and zucchini. Zeaxanthin colors yellow and orange foods, such as corn and carrots.


Carotenoids act in the deactivation of a free radical linked to prostate cancer, reducing the chances of developing the disease.

In addition, bones are also benefited, as the substance promotes tissue strengthening, reducing the development of osteoporosis . Tomatoes and eggplants, for example, have high concentrations of lycopene.


Carotenoids can help prevent lung cancer , reduce the risk of rheumatoid arthritis and reduce chronic inflation. The substance is found in orange and yellow foods, such as mango and papaya.

Alpha carotene

The substance can help to increase health and prolong life. This is because adequate consumption of alfacarotene can reduce the risks of death from diabetes , respiratory diseases, heart disease and cancer. The source foods are carrots, tomatoes, cabbage, tangerines and squash , for example.

Benefits of fruits

To have a balanced diet and rich in nutrients is quite simple: include portions of fruit in the meals. With a more sweet or citrus flavor, they are options for making juices, vitamins and complementing recipes.

Check out the properties of some fruits:


One of the most consumed fruits in Brazil, bananas are an excellent source of potassium, in addition to being rich in B vitamins. It provides a source of good carbohydrates for the body and helps to prevent cramps.


Apples are a source of B, C, E vitamins, magnesium, calcium, phosphorus, potassium, copper, zinc and even pectin, which can help reduce weight, control cholesterol and prevent gastrointestinal problems. Apple peel is rich in antioxidants and it is suggested that daily consumption may reduce the risk of heart disease in women.


Rich in vitamin A and C, strawberries help to protect tissues and assist in cell renewal. Rich in antioxidants, the fruit prevents premature aging and protects the skin.


Avocado is rich in good fats and therefore can help control cholesterol. In addition, fruit is a good energy source, because despite having a higher caloric value, it is rich in nutrients.


Fruit is one of the most popular sources of vitamin C and is also rich in potassium and carotene. In addition to assisting the immune system, orange consumption may be associated with reduced risk of lung and stomach cancer.


Papaya is rich in fiber and helps in good intestinal functioning, as it is the source of an enzyme called papain, which acts on the digestive system.


The fruit became popular in recent years and gained space in trade. The food helps the bloodstream, reduces cholesterol and contains anthocyanin, which is the carotenoid regulator of free radicals. That is, it prevents premature aging.

However, it is important to remember that most of the açaí consumed already goes through industrial processes, with added guaraná syrup, for example. In addition, the fruit has been widely consumed as a dessert, accompanied by toppings, such as syrups and sweets, which increase the value of calories and carbohydrates.

Benefits of the most consumed vegetables in Brazil

The amount of vegetables is large and each gives different nutrients to the body. Below you will find the main benefits of the most consumed vegetables in Brazil:


Pumpkin is rich in potassium, calcium, phosphorus, iron, magnesium, zinc and vitamins A, C, E and the B complex. Its consumption can help in the health of the skin, kidneys and heart. In addition, vegetables still have different types, such as pumpkin (which is sweeter) to cabotiá (or Japanese), which has a milder flavor.


Rich in water, lettuce leaves have vitamin A, B, C and K, in addition to calcium, iron, magnesium and potassium. It is one of the main foods present in diets, as it has low energy value, about 15 calories per 100g and has a lot of fiber.


The most frequent use of onion is as a spice in dishes or in salads. The vegetable is rich in fiber and assists in satiety, in addition to having vitamin B6, C, manganese and offering few calories, about 64kcal per unit.


Perhaps the most well-known property of carrots is vitamin A, acting on eye health. But the food also has vitamins C, K, B6, H and E. In addition to other nutrients such as manganese, phosphorus and copper, the food has a low glycemic index (the release of carbohydrates in the blood is slow), making carrots an excellent vegetable. for diets.


Tomato is one of the vegetables that are actually fruits. Each unit (approximately 100g) has 25 calories, less than 5g of carbohydrates and high concentrations of vitamins A, B1, B2, B3 and C.

Studies suggest that tomato consumption is associated with lower risks of cardiovascular disease due to the presence of antioxidants in the fruit. There is also less chance of macular degeneration, which can cause reduced or lost vision.

How much to eat?

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), 5 servings of fruits and vegetables are needed per day, which is equivalent to approximately 400 grams per day. Even though Brazil is one of the largest fruit producers, only 40% of the population eats food in their daily meals.

Imagine that you need to eat something like 4 small bananas a day. Now consider that, on average, the Brazilian consumes only 57kg of fruit annually, something close to 15 grams per day. It is as if, instead of 4 bananas, we eat just over half a fruit a day.

Of course, we do not need to eat all portions of a single food. In fact, the more variety you have on your plate, the better. So we can opt for those color tips: put together a colorful menu, as there is a greater chance that you will be ingesting complementary vitamins.

For example, carrots are rich in vitamin A, while watercress is a great source of vitamin C and apples have B complex vitamins. quality of food.

However, a recent study by the Imperial College London University, in the United Kingdom, indicates that the intake should be even greater for those seeking to prevent diseases and prolong health.

Until recently, it was believed that consuming more than 5 servings of fruits and vegetables would not bring better health results. It does not mean that we should not eat more than 400 grams daily. It would be as if eating 5 servings would bring the same result as eating 6 or more.

However, research shows that up to 7.8 million premature deaths can be prevented if people start consuming 10 servings of these foods daily, instead of the 5 generally recommended.

The variety also has different consequences. The results published by the scientific journal Journal of Epidemiology indicate that those who consume green, yellow and cruciferous vegetables, such as spinach, peppers and cauliflower consecutively, are less likely to develop cancer. People who consume apples, pears, green leaves and citrus fruits have a lower risk of strokes or cardiac arrest.

Still according to the study, a person who starts consuming 200 grams of fruits and vegetables daily will have 13% less chance of developing cardiovascular diseases. If the portion is 800 grams per day, the percentage is 28% less risk.

Although the results are quite optimistic, consuming at least 3 servings – which is the minimum amount recommended by the WHO – of these foods daily already helps to maintain the proper functioning of the body.

How to consume?

Making good food choices is the first step to ingesting more nutrients, but just consuming the portions of fruits, vegetables and vegetables indicated is not enough, as the way these products will be prepared also interferes with the nutritional value.

Heating food can alter nutrient concentrations, causing some to suffer large losses. That is, consuming a portion of raw carrot is not exactly the same thing as the same cooked portion.

In order to take better advantage of the properties of foods, some aspects can help:

  • Cook the food with the shell;
  • If you are going to peel, do this just before eating or cooking them;
  • Cook for a short time (leaving the food al dente, that is, harder) and with little water;
  • If possible, reuse the cooking water;
  • Avoid storing fruit and vegetables in the refrigerator for too long;
  • Prefer steam cooking;
  • Give preference to cooking the whole food or in large pieces, because small pieces increase the exposed surface and lose more nutrients;

In addition, consume the foods with the peel and seeds when possible, or try to reuse them, as some fruits and vegetables may have a higher concentration of nutrients in these parts than in the bagasse, as is the case with the orange, which has 40 times more calcium in the peel than in the pulp.

The bark, the stalk and the seeds also tend to have larger amounts of fiber, being excellent helpers of the intestine. If it is not possible to eat the whole product, as is the case with oranges, it is possible to use leftovers in recipes for cakes and sweets, for example.

I can’t eat fruits and vegetables

The processed food or fast moving consumer are generally much easier to be consumed. Nor is it just because of the taste, as it is also easier to find a snack bar or candy store than a fruit market.

At home, the temptation of processed foods is no less, once the ease of eating a packet of crackers can make the flavor of the fruit salad a little forgotten.

It is worth mentioning that, for most people, the consumption of vegetables, fruits and vegetables depends only on finding the most pleasant foods on the palate and creating the habit of consuming them.

Therefore, some tips can help in the routine, facilitate the inclusion of fruits and vegetables and make the diet much more balanced:

Make the fruits visible

On a daily basis, we are not always able to maintain a very healthy diet. The rush and forgetfulness itself can be factors that hinder the consumption of fruits and vegetables.

A simple way to remember them is to make food more visible, placing fruits near the table, for example.

Carry healthy food

When you are hungry during the day, a good option is to have a fruit on hand, but as it is not always possible to go to the market, the ideal is to have an option in your purse or backpack. Some fruits may be more difficult to carry and eat, such as mango, but others are ideal to carry, such as strawberries, apples or grapes.

Swap drinks for juices

Nutritionists recommend that you consume the whole fruit, as extracting the juice or liquefying the fruit can reduce the nutritional properties of the food. But juices can be combined when composing menus and are always healthier choices when compared to soda, for example.

But it has to be the natural juice, made from the same fruit, because those in boxes have large amounts of sugar, preservatives and dyes.

Increase revenue

A simple way to make food more enriched is to add vegetables to the preparation. For example, when making a savory pie, in addition to cheese and ham, you can add vegetables.

For breakfast, the cereal can be eaten with some fruit or kale leaves can be whipped together with the orange juice. Most recipes will not even taste altered.

Make healthy exchanges

Nobody needs to stop consuming the foods they like to have a balanced diet. In fact, the ideal is to reconcile the varied intake of nutrients with tasty and pleasurable meals.

Simple changes can improve the nutritional value of the food and often even add flavor to the dish. For example, it is possible to replace industrialized tomato sauce with a homemade sauce, made with tomatoes.

Read more: What are industrialized products?

Children’s resistance to vegetables may have scientific explanation

Having a balanced diet since childhood is essential for the child to develop properly, avoid anemia, gain more immunity and, as an adult, maintain healthy habits.

Some even accept the sweetest fruits, but it is not always easy to make them opt for vegetables. This resistance may be the result of evolutionary processes, in which green and unknown foods tended to be associated with toxins or poisons. Therefore, there would be a remnant of ancestors’ survival explaining why many children hate vegetables even before tasting them.

In addition, many vegetables have a bitter taste and children have a sharper palate, perhaps even because they do not have a lot of gastronomic experiences. That is, they feel the flavors more intensely than adults.

But not everything is lost. A little insistence – or perhaps a lot – is enough for the taste to start to be less unpleasant, after all the taste can also be adapted.

Until the age of 18 months, the child is more likely to taste the food as long as he is an adult of his trust who offers it. After that age, resistance to trying new things tends to increase.

Therefore, parents and guardians must set an example. If the child sees the adult consuming, it will be easier to accept the food, because – according to the evolutionary process -, it will not associate the vegetable with a toxin.

If vegetables and fruits are encouraged from childhood, the habit is more likely to remain in adolescence and adulthood.

To keep the body healthier and assist in the proper functioning of the body, it is necessary to maintain a balanced diet, as it is through food intake that we offer the body the necessary nutrients.

Consuming fruits and vegetables is apparently simple – some of them can be eaten raw and with peel – but still few people reach the recommended daily portions.

Small changes in routine and a little more attention to food choices can make a big difference in the health of the body.

Make your dish more colorful, invest in the fair or in the fruit and vegetable section and increase the recipes. So the food will be much more diversified and your body much more nourished.

To find out more about the benefits of food, keep an eye on the Healthy Minute.