5 Facts About Fruits & Veggies You Likely Don't Know

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We know eating fruits and veggies is a part of a balanced diet. There's a ton of misinformation about fad diets and magical quick-fix health tips out there... on television, across the internet, and in books. It's often hard to distinguish between reality and fiction. Here are five facts about fruits and vegetables that I didn't know and I'm betting you don't either... yet.

1. An Apple a Day May Keep The Doctor Around

The old adage "an apple a day will keep the doctor away" can be traced all the way back to 1866. The original saying, first cited in Wales, was: "Eat an apple on going to bed and you’ll keep the doctor from earning his bread."

It's easy to remember and has the kitschy rhyming thing going for it, which is perhaps why it's lasted in our consciousness for all these years. But, is it true? Is it good to eat an apple each and every day?

An Italian study compared a group of overweight men who ate one Golden Delicious apple everyday, in addition to their regular diet, with a control, "non-apple eating" group. At the end of the study, the Golden Delicious apples proved not so delicious for the test group's cholesterol: their triglycerides increased. The lesson: fruit can be unhealthy.

It turns out that Golden Delicious apples are high in sugar and lower than other apples (such as Granny Smith and Red Delicious) in antioxidants. For those apple-picking this fall, choose those apples wisely!

2. Iceberg Lettuce is the Only Lettuce Half of Americans Have Eaten

An iceberg took down the Titanic and the lettuce form isn't doing wonders for our nutrition. Investigative journalist Jo Robinson speaks about an oft-eaten pseudo-vegetable: iceberg lettuce.

Robinson says that half of Americans have only eaten one kind of lettuce: iceberg. It's cheap, it's plentiful, it finds its way into our sandwiches and salads. Iceberg lettuce happens to have fewer nutrients than any other type of lettuce. Vets recommend that rabbits do not consume it because they feel it doesn't have sufficient nutritional value.

3. Microwaving Veggies is Healthy

There's no doubt that vegetables are a critical part of a healthy diet. But, what's the best way to eat our veggies? We can eat them raw, or cooked by means of boiling, steaming, frying, grilling, or baking. There's some debate on how much nutritional value is lost (or gained) when vegetables are cooked.

That said, many vegetables taste better – and taste heartier – when cooked. Add the fact that we are often strapped for time and looking for time-saving shortcuts for meal prep and the result is that many of us turn to our microwaves for cooking our veggies.

The microwave seems like an improper place for us to put our treasured vegetables. Inserting healthy handfuls of broccoli, mushrooms, or carrots into the radiation-emitting box doesn't seem like the best idea. However, the microwave is a great way to cook our vegetables and retain their nutritional value.

Harvard Medical School's Family Health Guide states: "The cooking method that best retains nutrients is one that cooks quickly, heats food for the shortest amount of time, and uses as little liquid as possible. Microwaving meets those criteria."

4. Tomato Paste Packs an Antioxidant Punch

I love tomatoes. Heirloom, plum, cherry, grape, yellow pear... I love them all. Tomatoes are very healthy, as a good source of antioxidants and the cancer-fighting carotenoid pigment lycopene.

Fresh tomatoes are not always an option. They are not available year-round and they can be pricey. A fallback option is canned tomatoes, with tomato paste, regarded by health experts as superior to fresh tomatoes.

Why? It's all about lycopene. The method used in canning tomatoes causes the release of a greater amount of lycopene compared with raw tomatoes. Tomato paste is especially potent as it is a concentrated tomato reduction absent extra moisture.

5. Frozen Fruit is Better than Fresh Fruit

Many of the "fresh" fruits (and vegetables) we eat in this county were frozen prior to their delivery to the grocery store. In the freezer isle, we find produce that is frozen at the peak of its ripeness, when it is most nutrient-packed. Fresh fruit is picked before it ripens, and therefore has less time to reach its full potential of vitamins and minerals. In addition, frozen fruits and veggies do not require additives that their fresh counterparts need to keep them from going bad.

We’d love to hear from you. What do you think about these food facts? Comment below or on our Facebook page or tweet us at @flytefitness.

Be Flyte Fit,

Jeremy Greenberg

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