Facts about Vitamins and Minerals in Fruits and Veggies

Written by: Damijana Presečnik, M. Sc. in Nutrition

Living in a vital, healthy, energetic, and stress-resilient body requires a whole range of essential vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants. Besides following the recommendations of the food pyramid it is also important to eat fresh, local, and seasonal fruits and vegetables that haven't travelled half of the world to get to our dining table.

Especially in stressful moments – we are talking about any kind of stress here, psychological, physical, positive, or negative – one must eat healthy to provide their body quality nutrients, especially vitamins, minerals and antioxidants. Let's see where we can find and how to get the most of them from the foods we consume every day.

Fruits and Veggies

We are supposed to consume 250 grams of veggies and 150 grams of fruits daily in "normal circumstances" with low stress load, in healthy and clean environment. When this normal state changes, our organism needs even more of the protective foods that provide our body with vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants. Taking the transportation, storage and processing into account, our fruit and veggies needs become exceptionally high.

"Healthy diet comes from the kitchen – or even before, from the field, garden or shop shelves." (From the book: Health is Our Decision by Marija Merljak and Mojca Koman.)

Apparently, the essential nutrient logic is not as simple as you think, so let's take a closer look. Starting simply with the most common fruits, by analyzing its micro-structure we find more vitamin C in an apple, peach, plumb, pear etc. that was directly exposed to the sun (darker colored fruits). Besides that, I really need to stress that most of the vitamins can be found right under the skin of the fruit, so it's the best to eat it un-pilled. Just make sure to wash well before consuming or try to find organic, non-sprayed ones.

Lettuce-Case and Carrot-Case

Have you ever heard about the lettuce-case or carrot-case? Probably not, because I've just made these "terms" up. Lettuce-case is about the leafy veggies that when lacking water, transport all of the remaining water to the roots to survive and with it all the vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants go there too. So it's important to keep the soil of the lettuce and similar veggies moist, pick them in mornings, or plant them to the shadowy spots in your garden. And, no, it's not enough to sink the withered-picked lettuce in water. Sure it looks better, but the essential matter is still kept in the garden, where we left its roots.

Carrot-case goes just the other way around. It is better to be grown on the hot sun and picked in drier environment, due to all the water containing vitamins, minerals, and anti-oxidants that go to its roots.

The Healthy Survivors

Another interesting fact about fruits and veggies is that the plants grown in the most difficult conditions have the most bioactive substances. Because they had to fight to survive, they contain essential detox and cancer-protective nutrients. We can recognize them by the strong aroma (cauliflower, broccoli, kale, cabbage, garlic, onions) and colorfulness – look for the yellow-orange, violet-blue, and yellow-white colored fruits and veggies.

Source: Merljak, M., & Koman, M. (2008). Zdravje je naša odločitev. Ljubljana: Prešernova družba.