It's as easy as 1-2-3
Allison Tannis, RHN
Now that winter's here, what's the best way to get your 5 to 10 a day? Juice, frozen, and organic options offer nutritious ways to get your fruits and vegetables.
Winter is here and local farmers’ markets are closed. Getting your fruits and vegetables can be a challenge. Should you reach for frozen? What about juice? What is the best way to get your 5 to 10 a day when the fresh produce of summer is just a distant memory?
Whole raw fruits and vegetables offer the most natural and nutritious way to get your 5 to 10 a day. In their natural state, fruits and vegetables provide your body with water, fibre, and enzymes. They contain the most nutrients–nothing has been lost.
Debate exists around the potential nutrient loss that occurs when vegetables are frozen. While processing technology has improved dramatically over the years, leading to less nutrient loss, the additional step of cooking that’s required when preparing frozen foods can contribute to nutrient depletion.
Bear in mind that certain vitamins require cofactors in order to be absorbed and utilized correctly by the body (e.g., vitamin C needs bioflavonoids). A whole orange contains both vitamin C and bioflavonoids, but most juices and supplements contain only vitamin C.
When a fruit or vegetable is freshly juiced at home, it loses very few nutrients. However, processed juice has fewer nutrients than its original, whole food form. Avoid juice made from concentrate as concentration causes it to lose water-soluble vitamins. Choose 100 percent pure juice. Avoid punches, drinks, or mixes as they contain added sugar.
Eating fruits and vegetables enhances immunity and antioxidant capacity (disease prevention). The Journal of Nutrition (October 2006) reported that healthy adults taking a juice concentrate supplement reported fewer illness symptoms, increased immune health, and less DNA damage. Thus, the use of antioxidant-rich supplements such as dried fruit and vegetable juice concentrates may also be a healthy option.
Organic fruits and vegetables can contain up to 50 percent more antioxidants than their conventionally grown counterparts. Eating organic foods offers you more nutrients per bite. Plus, organically grown food has less impact on our environment.
According to the Journal of Nutrition (August 2006) diversity is better than homogeny. Diets with higher botanical diversity induce a significant reduction in DNA oxidation. This suggests that smaller amounts of multiple plant nutrients may be better than large amounts of single nutrients.
Go for colour–organic and fresh when possible–and make a rainbow on your plate. Be sure to get your 5 to 10 a day for optimal health.