Family Matters: Make informed choices over picking fruit and vegetables

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In her regular healthy family eating column, Sheffield nutritionist Hannah Bailey this week answers the question, which is better – fruit or vegetables?

I’m often asked by people: “Which is best? Fruit or vegetables?” so today’s column is going to compare the two and help you make informed choices for yourself and your family.

Both fruit and vegetables have a lot of goodness in them. They are packed with antioxidants which may help prevent cancer and cardiovascular disease – heart attacks, strokes, high blood pressure and cholesterol.

We are encouraged to eat a rainbow because different-coloured fruits and vegetables have different antioxidants and levels of vitamins and minerals in them.

Fruit and vegetables are low in fat and high in fibre which is needed for a healthy digestive system.

A lack of fibre can cause constipation, diverticular disease and potentially bowel cancer.

Fruit and vegetables are also low calorie with the exception of the avocado, which is the only naturally-occurring food containing both fat and sugar.

Vegetables are a great way to fill up at mealtimes because of the benefits they provide.

Below is a list showing different fruit and vegetables and their sugar content per 100g so you can make an informed choice:

Apple 11.8g; banana 20.9g (ripe, yellow – more sugar in riper bananas); orange 8.5g; pear 10g; grapes 15.4g; cucumber 1.4g; broccoli 1.5g; carrot 5.6g; tomatoes 3.1g.

Figures from McCance and Widdowson, The Composition of Foods (2008).

As a comparison, a Mars Bar contains 66.2g sugar per 100g and a low-fat yoghurt contains 12.7g.

You can see that fruit has a higher sugar content than vegetables. However, it also has fibre and vitamins.

The yoghurt has a similar content to some of the fruit but lacks the same level of vitamins and minerals.

For more information on health and nutrition, go to Hannah’s website, www.wisechoicenutrition.co.uk