‘Fruits and vegetables.’ The two food groups are so often spoken of in the same breath it’s easy for us to think of them as being virtually the same thing. While it’s true that both offer critically important nutrients, it’s important to know the differences between the two groups when we are planning meals for our own healthy little cooks (and ourselves!). The following information will help your kids discover the differences between the two and why it’s so important to fill our plates with plenty of both!
Fruits- Fruit technically refers to the part of a plant that develops from the flower of plants and contains the seeds. The fruit category includes not only things typically thought of as fruits- like apples, oranges, and grapes- but also technically includes a few things not typically thought of as fruits, including squash, tomatoes, legumes, and even some nuts.
Vegetables- Vegetables, on the other hand, come from all other edible parts of a plant, such as the stem, root, leaves, and stalks.
Both fruits and vegetables are great sources of the antioxidants we all need for optimal health, but each has their own nutritional profile.
Fruits- Fruits generally contain more natural sugar, called fructose, than veggies. This gives their characteristically sweet taste.
Fruits typically give us more macronutrients. Macronutrients refer to the fat, protein, and carbohydrates needed for energy. Because of the fructose in fruit, it is a good choice to eat a source of protein along with our fruit to keep blood sugar levels stable.
Vegetables-Veggies contain macronutrients as well, but they are a great source of micronutrients. Micronutrients refer to the minerals, vitamins, and phytonutrients our bodies receive from vegetables. These micronutrients help keep our bodies healthy and our immune systems working.
The Bottom Line
The bottom line is most people need to get more of both fruits and veggies in their diets. Consider fruits as replacements for desserts and other carbohydrate rich snacks rather than as alternatives to fruit. Consider veggies to be one of the best foods out there and load up as much as possible!