Fun facts about fruits and veggies

Published 9:50 am Monday, March 7, 2022

When counseling nutrition, I explain that most folks, including children, don’t get enough fruits and vegetables from their diet. The guideline I recommend is that children ages two to six should get 3 daily servings from the vegetable group and 2 from the fruit group. Older children and teens should get 4 daily servings from the vegetable group, 3 from the fruit group. Adults should have 5 servings from the vegetable group, and 4 from the fruit group, each day. 


We all know produce provides an array of nutrients, but here are a few facts about fruits and vegetables you might not know. Not all oranges are orange. Since most oranges grow in subtropical regions like Brazil, temperatures are never cold enough to catabolize the chlorophyll in the fruit, to be assimilated (absorbed). This means the fruit can still be yellow or green when ripe. Chlorophyll is the natural compound in green  plants that not only gives them their green color, but uses sunlight (photosynthesis) and water to produce glucose (a type of sugar) and starch. Plants use glucose for energy, and it is stored in seeds, fruits, and vegetables. Oranges imported to America are actually treated with ethylene gas, which directs the breakdown of chlorophyll allowing the fruit to turn orange in color. Kiwi fruit has twice the vitamin C of oranges. 

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Calorie for calorie, spinach is equal to chicken or fish in the amount of protein it contains, but it would take an abundant amount to acquire enough protein from it. You’d have to eat 2 pounds of spinach to equal the same amount of protein in just 5 ounces of chicken or fish. Broccoli has more protein than steak, based on caloric content, but it would take 3 pounds of broccoli to provide the same amount of protein as just 5 ounces of beef. California produces almost all broccoli sold in the United States. Broad beans (also known as fava or faba beans) contain one of the highest levels of protein of any vegetable…10 grams per cup (4 ½ ounces). Beetroot leaves are very healthy. They provide vitamin A, calcium, and iron. The sugar produced in their leaves is stored in the beet root which is commercially grown to produce sugar. The leaves of the rhubarb plant are extremely poisonous, but the stalks are completely safe to eat. 


The apple you eat might actually be a year old. Apples are available year round at grocers, even though the growing season in the United States only lasts a few months in the fall. This is possible because of sophisticated cold storage technology. Potatoes were the first vegetable grown in space, in October 1995, aboard the space shuttle Columbia, in a collaboration between NASA and the University of Wisconsin-Madison. The sweet potato can strengthen the immune system and fight against diseases like cancer. Sweet potatoes and yams are not the same. Sweet potatoes belong to the “morning glory” family, but neither sweet potatoes or yams are related to potatoes. 


What’s the world’s most popular fruit? The mango…it’s one of my favorites, too. Grapefruit, grapefruit juice, and some medications don’t mix. While grapefruit is very nutritious, it can block metabolism of certain medications, so more of these drugs stay in the body, longer. Especially high blood pressure and arrhythmia (irregular or abnormal heart beat) medications. Be sure to check with your doctor and pharmacist. Onions are super healthful. They contain over 100 different sulfide compounds that do everything from help control asthma to prevent certain types of cancer. Raw garlic helps fight diseases such as cancer and stroke.  The most expensive fruit in the world is the Japanese Yubari cantaloupe; two melons once sold at auction for $23,500. Watermelons (my personal favorite) are aptly named, because they contain 92% water, and 6% sugar. Cherry farmers actually hire helicopter pilots to air-dry their trees. These pilots are on standby during the summer to dry cherry trees after it rains, to keep the cherries from splitting.  Most fruit is fat free, and its calories come from fruit’s carbohydrate stores, but avocados and coconut are the only fruits whose calories come mostly from fat. A half-cup of figs has as much calcium as a half-cup of milk.  Baby carrots aren’t really babies at all, but rather cut from full grown varieties that are sweeter and thinner than traditional carrots. With most fruits and vegetables, the majority of nutrients are found in the skin. If you peel away the skin, you’re missing out on nutrients and fiber.  Of all vegetables, asparagus loses its flavor the fastest, especially after it’s been cut. Asparagus is also a well known diuretic increasing the excretion of urine from the body. Eating artichokes helps protect the liver. About 71% of the world’s grapes are used for wine, 27% as fresh fruit, and 2% are used to make raisins. U.S. raisin farmers are not allowed to sell all the raisins they grow. They must contribute part of their crop to the “national raisin reserve” if supply exceeds demand. Peaches and nectarines are pretty much the same thing. These fruits are quite similar, the biggest difference, a peach has fuzz, while the nectarine does not.   David Crocker is a nutritionist and master personal trainer. Questions? Email David at or text him at 864-494-6215.