What exactly is a nutrient? Well, according to the Oxford Dictionary of English, a nutrient is any substance that provides nourishment that is essential for growth, but more importantly to maintain and sustain life. Nutrients include carbohydrates, fats, vitamins, minerals and let’s not forget about how vital water is.
While transitioning to a healthy lifestyle, ensuring adequate nutrient intake is extremely important. These nutrients can come from a wide array of foods, but for this article the main focus will be nutrients found in fruits and vegetables. Fruits and veggies have so many great health benefits, they are packed with vitamins, minerals, proteins and are also very high in fiber. These nutrients all play a role in many processes that occur in the body from removing free radicals, helping with digestion and production of collagen to name a few. Let’s take a closer look at why these nutrients are important for the human body and how to make them a part of your healthy lifestyle.
Vitamins & Minerals: There are substances that play a role in many of the physiological processes that occur in the body. For example, Vitamin C helps to produce collagen and Vitamin E is an antioxidant that protects our cells from daily damage. Minerals such as iron are vital to ensure that the cells of your body are receiving adequate oxygen. Zinc is another mineral commonly found in fruits and vegetables. It is essential for the human body and over 200 enzymes require zinc to function! The major minerals required by the body include: calcium, phosphorus, magnesium, sodium, potassium and chloride. Although we may not require large quantities of vitamins and minerals it is evident that they are critical for our body to function properly.
|Vitamin||Common Functions||Fruits and Vegetable Sources|
|Vitamin A (carotene; retinol)||Vision||Cantaloupes & Cabbage|
|B1 (thiamine)||DNA production||Mango & Sweet Potato|
|B2 (riboflavin)||Energy production||Pomegranate & Asparagus|
|B3 (niacin)||Energy production||Avocado & Mushrooms|
|B5 (pantothenic acid)||Breakdown of fats||Watermelon & Squash|
|B6 (pyridoxamine)||Dopamine synthesis||Grapes & Bok Choy|
|B7 (biotin)||Fat metabolism||Strawberries & Cauliflower|
|B9 (folic acid)||Red blood cell synthesis||Papaya & Okra|
|B12 (cobalamins)||Red blood cell synthesis||Not present in fruits or vegetables. Come from meat, poultry and dairy.|
|Vitamin C||Collagen synthesis||Pineapple & Brussel Sprouts|
|Vitamin D||Helps calcium absorption||Mushrooms|
|Vitamin E||Antioxidant||Kiwi & Swiss Chard|
|Vitamin K||Involved in blood clotting||Blueberries & Celery|
|Mineral||Common Function||Fruits and Vegetable Sources|
|Calcium||Controls heartbeat and blood pressure||Blackberries, celery & okra|
|Phosphorus||Fat metabolism||Kiwi, pears & dates|
|Magnesium||Energy production||Avocado, butternut squash &
|Sodium||Control body’s water balance||Passionfruit, broccoli & brussel sprouts|
|Potassium||Control body’s water balance||Bananas, guava & potatoes|