We need vitamins, minerals and nutrients to keep our bodies in the best shape possible. But what vitamins do you need for what?

Vegetables and fruits are good for human health because they contain vitamins, minerals and other chemical compounds.

Which vitamins make sure your body works properly?

Vitamin A: maintains eye health and strengthens the immune system
Carrots, cauliflower, cabbage, oranges, tangerines and bananas.

Potassium: promotes nerve and muscle functioning
Sweet-potato, potatoes, beet greens, white beans and carrots.

B-vitamins: helps convert food to energy
Whole grains, potatoes, bananas and chili peppers.

Folate: reduces the risk of some birth defects and helps prevent heart disease
Asparagus, broccoli, chickpeas, collard greens, endive, lentils, beans, spinach and strawberries.

Vitamin C: increases absorption of calcium and iron from other foods
Cabbage, citrus fruit, kiwi, berries and strawberries.

Vitamin E: is a powerful antioxidant that protects cells from cancer-causing agents
Spinach, almonds, sunflower seeds, avocados, olive oil, pumpkin and broccoli.

Dietary fiber: helps move food through the digestive tract and lower blood cholesterol levels.
Raspberries, blueberries, dried apricots, dried figs, rye and beans.

Phytochemicals: - e.g. compounds that that give tomatoes and carrots their bright colors - have antioxidant and anti-inflammatory effects.

Servings* of fruit and vegetables a day

The U.S. departments for Agriculture and Health and Human Services have set a new guideline. For a person who needs 2,000 calories a day to maintain his weight and health, this translates to 9 servings, or 4½ cups per day. 2 cups of fruit and 2½ cups of vegetables.

* A serving consists of 80 grams of vegetables and fruit (World Health Organization standard)

Sources: FAO.org & Harvard.

Do you want to read more about the benefits of vegetables?

Photo: Rego Korosi