At present, it is known and reported in the mass media that the daily consumption of vegetables represents a protective factor against most diseases, especially cardiovascular, metabolic and some types of cancer.
So much so that the United Nations Organization for Food and Agriculture (FAO) and the World Health Organization (WHO) launched in 2003 the global strategy on healthy lifestyles, which emphasizes food healthy, physical activity and prevention to maintain good health.
This strategy seeks to increase the consumption of vegetables and fruits through public awareness programs and public policies for the national prevention of chronic diseases.
In general, it is estimated that 1.7 million lives could be saved each year if the consumption of fruits and vegetables is sufficiently increased. As in recent decades have significantly increased the problems of overweight and obesity not only in the adult population but in the child population, it is intended to encourage the consumption of vegetables and fruits at an early age.
A balanced and healthy diet is one that provides all the nutrients necessary for the growth, maintenance, reproduction, physical and mental well-being of the human being. The consumption of varied fruits and vegetables guarantees a sufficient consumption of most micronutrients, dietary fiber and essential substances for the proper functioning of our body.
The current estimated consumption of fruits and vegetables varies greatly around the world, ranging from 100 g / day in the least developed countries to approximately 450 g / day in Western Europe, which is why the WHO recommended as a population objective the consumption of minimum of 400 g daily of fruits and vegetables in order to prevent chronic diseases.
But why does the WHO, focus several of their efforts on the issue of healthy eating with vegetables and fruits? The answer is simple, vegetables are a great source of vitamins and minerals, their daily consumption in the family diet helps prevent diseases and it contributes to the growth of our children, besides its inclusion in the diet helps to displace foods rich in saturated fats, sugars or salt.
Therefore, it is important for parents to know what vitamins and minerals the vegetables provide and in which foods they are most commonly found:
Vitamin A: Contributes to growth, digestion and appetite, found mainly in vegetables such as lettuce, Swiss chard, spinach and carrot.
Vitamin C: Strengthens and activates the body’s immune or defense system, found in cabbage, tomatoes, watercress and lettuce.
Vitamin D: Regulates the metabolism and maintains the absorption of calcium and phosphorus. It is found in vegetables such as carrots and cabbage.
Vitamin E: It helps protect fatty acids and red blood cells, in addition to preventing the formation of toxic molecules. It is found in green leafy vegetables such as spinach and Swiss chard.
Vitamin B1: They know it as thiamin, it favors the growth and the functions of the nervous system. It is found mainly in spinach, tomatoes, turnips, corn and carrots.
Vitamin B2: It has anti-inflammatory properties, also intervenes in cellular respiration. It is usually found in most vegetables.
Vitamin B12: Contributes to appetite. The body produces this vitamin after having ingested the carrot.
Magnesium: Maintains bones, cartilage and teeth in perfect condition. We can find it in vegetables such as green leafy vegetables and soybeans.
Fluoride: Participates in the formation and protection of teeth and bones. We find it in cauliflower and Swiss chard.
Calcium: Strengthens bones, teeth, muscles and cardiac function. We can find it in vegetables such as lettuce, celery, tomatoes and green leaves.
Iron: Involved in the transport of oxygen to tissues through the blood. We can find it in parsley, asparagus and legumes.
Potassium: Involved in muscle and heart contracture. It sends oxygen to the brain, it also favors the elimination of organic waste and helps the children’s growth. It is usually found in tomatoes, celery, lettuce and radish.
Iodine: It is a regulator of metabolism, it can help us to prevent the appearance of goiter (enlarged thyroid gland). They are usually found in tomatoes, lettuce, garlic and radish.
The deficiency of these minerals and vitamins can cause problems in vision and growth, skin changes, anemia, colds, cavities and rickets. Thanks to the above, diets rich in fats, flours, sugars and red meats increase the probability of suffering from chronic pathologies in the future.
Children and adolescents may be reluctant to consume these foods either because of their presentation, taste, or simply because the world offers a variety of processed and packaged foods that are easy to obtain and attractive to the palate. For this reason, some recommendations are offered that will help your family to implement and adopt this style of diet:
Include 5 foods a day between vegetables and fruits in the family diet.
Present the dishes in a fun way, with ingredients that add color and reinforce the aesthetics of the dish.
Using the imagination and using different vegetables to draw faces, landscapes, animals will draw the child’s attention and focus on the presentation and not on its content.
Prepare food in the company of children, looking for innovative recipes with vegetables on the Internet or cookbooks, so you will realize that there are many options to prepare vegetables to be pleasing to the eye and taste.
It is recommended not to repeat the same vegetable more than once a week. And if it is not possible, cook it in different ways.
Add cut or mashed vegetables to meat, fish or egg dishes.
Consuming food as a family allows us to set an example for our children.
Buy the vegetables that are in harvest, thus they are included in the family diet without cost overruns.
The consumption of vegetables and fruits in recent years has decreased considerably among children and adolescents, so the task as parents and educators is to encourage our children a nutritious food since they are very small.
Adults must set the example and start education in healthy lifestyles from home and transmit it to schools and the community, therefore the family diet is the first scenario for the inclusion of healthy foods both at the table and at the table. Lunchbox of our children.
- Sources consulted
Morris MC, Evans DA, Tangney CC, Bienias JL, Wilson RS, Associations of vegetable and fruit with age-related cognitive change. Neurology October 24, 2006 vol. 67 no. 8 1370-1376. Available at http://www.neurology.org/content/67/8/1370.short.
- World Health Organize. Global Strategy on Diet, Physical Activity and Health. Promoting fruit and vegetable around the world. Available at http://www.who.int/dietphysicalactivity/fruit/es/