In addition to quantity and quality, the variety of fruits and vegetables consumed matters, as many phytonutrients are not evenly distributed among the various families and parts of plants.
When it comes to fruits and vegetables, it’s not only quality, and quantity, but also variety.
We know, for example, spinach is healthier than lettuce, and a big salad is better than small, but is it better to get the spring greens mesclun mix than even the straight spinach? Is it healthier to eat one apple and one orange than it is to eat 3 apples? Or 3 oranges?
An interesting pair of studies were released recently that looked at disease risk and the variety of fruit and vegetable consumption.
I think we’re used to some of the more generic plant compounds like vitamin C, which is sprinkled throughout the plant kingdom, whereas there are specific phytonutrients, produced by specific plants to perform specific functions—both in their organs and ours—and we miss out on them if we’re stuck in a fruit and vegetable rut, even if every day we’re eating a lot.
There are tens of thousands of phytonutrients but they’re not evenly distributed throughout the plant kingdom. Those wonderful glucosinolates I’ve talked about are found almost exclusively in the cabbage family. You don’t get lemonoids like lemonin and limonol or tangeretin in apples, for example. Comparing apples and oranges is like, comparing apples and oranges
In a sense, though. all fruits are just fruits, whereas vegetables can be any other part of the plant. Roots harbor different nutrients than shoots. Carrots are roots, celery and rhubarb are stems, dark green leafies are, leaves, peas are pods, and cauliflower is true to it's name, a collection of flower buds, but all fruits are just fruits, so it may be even more important to get in a variety of vegetables so you can benefit from all parts of the plant, and that’s indeed what they found.
To see any graphs, charts, graphics, images, and quotes to which Dr. Greger may be referring watch the above video. This is just an approximation of the audio contributed by veganmontreal.
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The pair of studies I refer to in the video are going to be covered in tomorrow's video-of-the-day. This was more of a backgrounder to set them up. If you can't wait, you'll note that one of them is available open access, so you can download it by clicking on the link above in the Sources Cited section. In terms of fruit and vegetable quality, berries are the healthiest fruits (see Best Berries) and greens are The Healthiest Vegetables. There are 139 more videos on fruits and vegetables and hundreds of other videos on more than a thousand subjects.