The healthful, disease fighting properties of fruits and vegetables are well documented. Rich in vitamins, minerals and antioxidants, fruits and vegetables form the basis of diets such as the Mediterranean diet and the Paleo diet, styles of eating that have been shown to help individuals maintain a healthy weight, fight disease and increase longevity. The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s 2010 dietary guidelines recommend you eat at least two and a half cups of fruits and vegetables each day, combining dark green vegetables and leafy greens with orange and red colored produce, such as sweet potatoes, tomatoes and carrots. The different colors of fruit and vegetables indicate the presence of different antioxidants; each is necessary to counter the damaging effect of free radicals, molecules that damage and age the cells of a body.
Meeting these dietary goals can be difficult. Fresh produce has a limited shelf life, and keeping it on hand for meals often requires several shopping trips a week. Even for those that do have the time to shop for and prepare fruits and vegetables, the availability of fresh produce varies by geographic location and season. Many consumers live in what is termed ‘Food Deserts.” These parts of the country lack grocery stores and farmers markets that provide healthy foods. Readily available Fruit and vegetable supplements offer consumers a convenient way to get the health benefits of fresh produce.
Fruit supplements contain the potassium, fiber, vitamin C, and folic acid found in bananas, prunes, oranges, melons and many other fruits. Potassium helps to maintain a healthy blood pressure; fiber is essential for regulating the digestive system and it helps to lower blood cholesterol levels. Vitamin C is necessary for repairing damaged tissue, and folic acid is essential for building red blood cells. Folic acid, when taken by pregnant women, can prevent some birth defects. Fruit supplements combine many different fruits in one dose, providing a complete nutritional package. They are available in capsule form and as powders that can be blended into water or juice.
Vegetable supplements are made from dried or dehydrated vegetables combined with juice concentrates. Unlike vitamin pills, vegetable supplements contain the whole vegetable, making them more readily absorbed by the body. They provide nutrition that is more complete then that of vitamin pills. They generally combine vegetables from across the color spectrum, ensuring a good mix of cancer-fighting antioxidants. Essential nutrients found in vegetable supplements include vitamin C, carotenes, necessary for strong bones and eye health, lutein and zeaxanthin, which also protect vision, and lycopene, a nutrient found in tomatoes that is associated with reducing the risk of diabetes, cancer, heart disease and osteoporosis.
Fruit and vegetable supplements are available in health food stores and online. Bulk supplements are a convenient and cost-efficient way to keep a supply on hand for regular inclusion in your diet. While these supplements have long shelf lives, they are best used by the “use by” date stamped on the packaging for maximum nutrition. It is safe to use older products, but the nutrition levels are not at their maximum as the supplements begin to break down.