The Importance of Fruits and Vegetables
So Why is it important to know about your fruits and veg?
Well, fresh, unprocessed fruits and vegetables are an important source of Vitamins A, C, and E, which are a crucial part of a healthy diet, being necessary for cell growth and renewal and to ward off viral and bacterial infections. Vitamin C in particular cannot be stored in the body and should be obtained from an adequate daily intake of several fruits and vegetables, with the best sources including:
* Citrus fruit – e.g. oranges, clementines, lemons, limes
* Green vegetables
* Tomatoes, peppers
* Berries – e.g. strawberries, raspberries, blueberries
* Cherries, apricots, grapes
* Kiwi fruit, melons, papayas
The vitamin C in these foods, and the fibre they contain, assist the body in its processes of cleansing, ‘breaking down’ and elimination. People with a high level of fruit and vegetables in their diet tend to be less overweight, a significant factor at a time when childhood obesity is assuming epidemic proportions.
Vitamin C also works to counteract toxic conditions, such as air pollution around urban playgrounds where traffic is heavy. It is necessary for the absorption of iron to manufacture new red blood cells, which increase rapidly in growing children, and consequently helps prevent anaemia. Increasing the consumption of vitamin C rich foods has been shown to raise energy levels, lessen general fatigue, and even decrease anxiety.
Children who are additionally encouraged to eat dark green leafy vegetables e.g. spinach, broccoli, alfalfa, and also carrots, will also obtain beneficial amounts of Vitamin A, which prevents blindness. We’ve all been exhorted to “Eat your carrots so you can see in the dark!” (The dark green and leafy veg. are also a valuable source of iron.) Vitamin A also promotes healthy growth in children and strengthens the immune system.
A regular and varied consumption of the fruits and vegetables mentioned here will also provide an adequate level of Vitamin E, which assists in healthy organ, brain and endocrine function; this latter role obviously comes to the fore during puberty.
Required in lesser quantities, but available from the same listed sources are Vitamin K, necessary for blood clotting, and Vitamin P, otherwise known as the Bioflavinoids. ‘P’ occurs in fruits and vegetables along with ‘C,’ particularly in apricots, cherries and grapes, and strengthens capillary blood vessels, preventing such problems as excessive bruising, and nose bleeds.
The benefits accruing from fruit and vegetable consumption have real relevance to the healthy growth and development of children, from infancy to adolescence. The aim of our card game is to increase their awareness of this food group and to encourage them to take a measure of responsibility for their own health.