The importance of vegetables, fruits and berries in human nutrition is well known. They are delicious, nutritious, and healthy. Vegetables and fruits do not have a high energy value, but they are suppliers of essential nutrients (nutrients necessary for the normal implementation of metabolism), on which human health directly depends. Vitamins, minerals, easily digestible carbohydrates, dietary fiber - this is not a complete list of useful substances that are rich in these gifts of nature.
Vegetables and fruits are really a storehouse of vitamins and minerals. They are rich in calcium, magnesium, iron, zinc and vitamins A, C, E and K. Vitamins are biocatalysts for many biochemical reactions in the body.
- With a lack of vitamin A, vision, immunity suffers, the condition of the skin, nails and hair worsens.
- Retinol is essential for hormone synthesis, bone growth, cartilage and collagen formation.
- Vitamin B1 actively participates in the processes of energy and plastic metabolism, supports the normal functioning of the nervous and digestive systems
- Vitamin B2 is necessary for the full functioning of the nervous system, ensuring the function of vision, maintaining the health of the skin and mucous membranes, the production of hormones and the maturation of red blood cells.
- Vitamin C is involved in over 300 biological processes. Ascorbic acid is best known for its ability to strengthen the immune system.
- Of course, vitamins are not all the beneficial components found in fruits and vegetables.
- Vegetables and fruits are the main suppliers of dietary fiber, which plays an important role in the functioning of the gastrointestinal tract, normalization of fat metabolism, and elimination of cholesterol from the body. Dietary fiber is not digested or absorbed in the gastrointestinal tract, but is processed by the beneficial intestinal microflora.
- Depending on the solubility in water, dietary fiber is subdivided into soluble (for example, some gums, pectin) and insoluble (cellulose, cell wall debris, etc.).
The main functions of dietary fiber:
- Cleansing . Dietary fibers have the property, like a sponge, to absorb harmful compounds (toxins, poisons, salts of heavy metals, radionuclides) and remove them outside the internal environment of the human body. This contributes to the normal functioning of the body as a whole.
- Digestive . Dietary fiber improves intestinal motility, helps this organ to get rid of decay products in a timely manner. In addition, dietary fiber increases the absorption of nutrients by the human body.
- Immunomodulatory . Fiber takes an active part in the restoration of intestinal microflora, and it is in the intestines that the lion's share of immune cells is concentrated - more than 80%.
- Normalization of metabolism. Thanks to dietary fiber, it is possible to significantly reduce blood glucose and "bad" cholesterol levels. In other words, fiber counteracts atherosclerosis, diabetes, hypertension.
- Fighting excess weight. Dietary fiber cleanses the body not only from accumulations dangerous to human health and life, but also from excess lipids and sugars. In addition, they reduce the rate of absorption of the listed compounds by the body. Thus, fiber helps to reduce weight.
- Appetite control. Filling the stomach in a swollen state, fiber deprives a person of hunger for a long time.
- Nutrition for the microbiota. Dietary fiber plays the role of a kind of food for a number of intestinal microorganisms that synthesize vitamins, enzymes, amino acids, immunoglobulins.
- Cancer prevention. If you regularly consume foods rich in dietary fiber, you can reliably protect yourself from cancer, especially cancer of the digestive system.
Few people know that, in addition to vitamins, minerals and fiber, healthy fruits and vegetables also contain minor components that protect the body from the harmful effects of the environment.
And although there are very few of them in food, they perform the most important functions: they regulate metabolism.
The deficiency of these nutrients and biologically active components leads to a decrease in the body's resistance to unfavorable environmental factors, the formation of immunodeficiency states, chronicity of diseases, and a decrease in the quality of life.
In the body, these useful substances are not synthesized, and they can be obtained from plant products.
Natural minor components include the following compounds: flavonoids, food indoles, organic acids.
- Flavonoids are involved in strengthening capillary walls, preventing bleeding and lowering blood pressure, protecting against hypertension, lowering blood cholesterol levels and the risk of developing cardiovascular diseases. In addition, they help the body in the fight against allergies and tumor processes, protect against the effects of free radicals, and neutralize toxins.
- Dietary indoles are capable of regulating and stabilizing the human immune system and protecting against toxic compounds. Indoles are potent anticarcinogenic compounds that help prevent breast and other cancers.
- Organic acids (succinic, malic, citric, etc.) give products a pleasant taste, quench thirst, improve the activity of the digestive tract, normalize the acid-base balance (pH of the medium) and thereby contribute to a change in the composition of microflora in a favorable direction (reduce decay), activate peristalsis intestines, helping to reduce the risk of many gastrointestinal and other diseases. Organic acids contained in cranberries and lingonberries have an antiseptic effect.
Chronic deficiency in the intake of these biologically active phytocompounds can dramatically reduce the adaptive potential of the body.
It is the combination and synergism of all components that determines the effective healing effect of vegetables and fruits for the body, therefore it is necessary to regularly eat them.