Articles - A Healthy Diet:

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Five portions of fruit and vegetables per day – that’s the rule of thumb for a healthy diet. But not every healthy snack is necessarily the right one.

Scientists have discovered that Europeans’ favourite types of fruit and vegetables are not always the most effective kinds for boosting health. Exotic varieties such as sweet potatoes or kale, a type of cabbage, are clearly much more effective when it comes to improving our well-being than the standard fruit and veg found on supermarket shelves.

So once in a while it’s best to leave the carrots, oranges, grapes, strawberries and spinach to one side. Varying the healthy foods you eat is not only a good way of keeping your taste buds happy: certain types of fruit and vegetables also contain much higher levels of phytonutrients than others. These substances of plant origin act as highly-concentrated antioxidants and are particularly good for the eyes, bones, heart, brain and immune system.

Even though carrots are well known for containing vitamin A, sweet potatoes give the body twice as much of this substance, which is so important for healthy eyes. Do you have a glass of orange juice at breakfast? Try a handful of papaya in your muesli instead: it will give you 15 times as much beta-cryptoxanthin as the popular citrus fruit.

According to Dr Keith Randolph of the US, these different nutrient densities explain why some people who do consume lots of fruit and vegetables still suffer from deficiency symptoms. “New data shows that the quality of the products is much more important than the quantity when it comes to eating a healthy diet.”

But you won’t necessarily have to seek out a specialist food store to find the right five a day: sweet potatoes, kale and papaya are great, but raspberries and blueberries are real superfruits too.

Author: Hendrik Jürgens