Filipinos are very fortunate to live in a tropical country where plenty of fruits and vegetables grow. These staple food crops can be easily grown in home gardens and are sold affordably in the markets. They also provide great health benefits. So why not take advantage of them, right?
“Fruits and vegetables are rich in vitamins, minerals and antioxidants, which help nourish your body and keep you protected from diseases. They are also low in fat and calories, which make them excellent for weight management,” says Dr. Nicky Montoya, president of MediCard Philippines, a leading health maintenance organization provider in the country.
Some of the most nutritious and inexpensive fruits and veggies that you can easily find around your locality include:
Avocado has a high monounsaturated fat content, which helps reduce bad cholesterol and lowers the risk of stroke and heart disease. It is also a high source of potassium (containing more than a banana) and phytochemicals, which help prevent certain types of cancer.
Buko (Young Coconut)
Buko contains edible flesh (coco meat) and water (buko juice). Its meat has tons of fatty acids, fiber, manganese, iron, calcium, potassium, and vitamins B, C and E. Its juice contains sugar (glucose) and electrolytes, which can rehydrate the body. Buko juice is popularly used in treating urinary tract infection and can also be a better choice for rehydration compared to most sports drinks because it is sterile and non-allergenic.
Aside from being a rich source of fiber, folate and vitamins A, C and E; papaya is notable for papain, an enzyme that aids in smooth digestion and fights free radicals to soften and brighten skin. Papain also helps heal wounds, supports the immune system, reduces joint irritation, and destroys intestinal parasites.
Eggplant or talong is considered one of the healthiest vegetables in the world. It is high in antioxidants, including chlorogenic acid, which fights free radicals and protects cells from mutating into cancer cells, and nasunin, which delays the growth of cancerous mass or tumor. It also has essential phyto nutrients which improve blood circulation and nourish the brain.
Malunggay is referred to as a miracle vegetable by health experts because of its ample nutritional and medicinal benefits. It is rich in beta-carotene, vitamins B and C, iron, and amino acids. It can treat malnutrition and a number of illnesses, including bacterial and fungal skin infections, anti-inflammatory gastric ulcers and diarrhea.
Kamote, the local name for sweet potato, is a versatile vegetable because its leaves (kamote tops) and roots are both edible. It has tons of fiber, iron, calcium, protein, magnesium, sodium, phosphorous, sulfur, and zinc. It is also high in polyphenolic compounds, which protect the body from oxidative stress (an imbalance in the production of free radicals that damage cells and organs).
While all of these fruits and veggies are jam-packed with nutrients that can nurture and clean your body, keep in mind that no single food crop contains all the nourishment you need. “When it comes to eating fruits and vegetables, variety is as important as quantity. If you need to be healthy, you need to eat plenty of different fruits and vegetables,” advises Dr. Montoya.
The MediCard Lifestyle Center provides comprehensive medical and specialty services, including nutrition counselling and diet management. For more information, visit http://mlc.medicardphils.com.