Fruits and vegetables

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The fruits and vegetable groups include all fruits and vegetables but exclude potatoes as these are included in the group containing bread, other cereals and potatoes.

Fruits and vegetables should form the basis of all meals as they're low in fat but help adjust the contribution of energy from fat, they can be ingested in a variety of ways from fresh, frozen or canned. They can be made in smoothies which can contain multiples fruit and vegetables and can be easily served alongside other foods.

In 2000 the national school fruit scheme was announced to help try and improve consumption of fruit and vegetables in children as a survey found consumption of fruit and veg was low among 4-6-year-olds. The scheme was put in place in 2004 where children are provided with a free piece of fruit each day.

Most vegetables are low in fats and therefore calories, it's recommended that 5 portions of fruit and veg are eaten every day, this is a combined portion not 5 of each. These portions have been based on recommendations from the world health organisation that we should eat 400g each day.

Iron from fruit and vegetables is poorly absorbed but makes up the essential iron contribution in vegetarians and vegans, however, vitamin c is rich in fruit and vegetable, which enhances the absorption of non-haem-iron.

Fruit and vegetables contain a range of vitamins. Vitamin c is the key of these and is rich in citrus fruits such as grapefruits and oranges. The vegetable can be a great source of vitamin C, especially in green vegetables, peppers and tomatoes, in order to maximise the amount of vitamin c in vegetables it's best to cook them first.

In order to retain the nutrients from fruit and vegetables is important to do the following:
Try to use fresh fruit and vegetables ;
Prepare and cook vegetables just prior to eating it;
Do not chop salad and vegetables finely;
Try not to peel vegetables or potatoes;
Do not overcook vegetables;
And finally, use the water that vegetables have been cooked in for soups and gravies.