Eating a diet rich in vegetables and fruits as part of an overall healthy diet may reduce risk for heart disease, including heart attack, stroke and other chronic diseases. Most fruits are naturally low in fat, sodium, and calories. None have cholesterol.
Fruits are sources of many essential nutrients that are under consumed, including potassium, dietary fiber, vitamin C, and folate (folic acid).
Diets rich in potassium may help to maintain healthy blood pressure. Fruit sources of potassium include bananas, prunes and prune juice, dried peaches and apricots, cantaloupe, honeydew melon, and orange juice.
Dietary fiber from fruits, as part of an overall healthy diet, helps reduce blood cholesterol levels and may lower risk of heart disease. Fiber is important for proper bowel function. Fiber-containing foods help provide a feeling of fullness with fewer calories. Whole or cut up fruits are sources of dietary fiber; fruit juices contain little or no fiber.
Vitamin C is important for growth and repair of all body tissues, helps heal cuts and wounds, and keeps teeth and gums healthy.
Folate (folic acid) is a water soluble B vitamin that occurs naturally in food. Folate is an important nutrient for pregnant women and women planning to become pregnant. Folate helps reduce the risk of birth defects affecting the baby’s brain and spinal cord. However, folate has benefits for everyone because it:
Helps the body produce and maintain new cells
Is needed to make new red blood cells and helps inhibit some types of anemia
May help protect against heart disease, some cancers and cognitive (mental) decline
Is related to fewer deaths from strokes