National Eat Your Vegetables Day is observed annually on June 17. June is National Fresh Fruit and Vegetables Month, and National Eat Your Vegetables Day is one more opportunity to remind everyone to continue with this part of a healthy diet.
As part of a main meal or as a snack, vegetables can be enjoyed in a variety of ways. Each vegetable has its own nutritional content though generally, they contain a little protein or fat and varying proportions of vitamins such as Vitamin A, Vitamin K and Vitamin B6, provitamins, dietary minerals and carbohydrates. They also contain a variety of other phytochemicals, some of which have antioxidant, antibacterial, antifungal, antiviral and anticarcinogenic properties. Many vegetables also contain fiber which is important for gastrointestinal function. Another benefit is the essential nutrients that vegetables contain that are necessary for healthy hair and skin.
When eating a diet consisting of the recommended amounts of fruits and vegetables, it may help lower the risk of heart diseases and type 2 diabetes. These diets may also help to decrease bone loss and protect against some cancers. The potassium provided may help prevent the formation of kidney stones.
It is recommended by the USDA Dietary Guidelines for Americans, to consume 3 to 5 servings of vegetables per day. This recommendation may vary, however, depending on age and gender. For most vegetables, one serving is equivalent of 1/2 to 1 cup and can be eaten either raw or cooked.
1. Tomatoes are technically a fruit, but they are legally defined as a vegetable in the U.S. The 1893 Supreme Court decision Nix vs. Hedden ruled that since tomatoes were typically used in savory dishes they could be taxed as vegetables rather than fruits, and they’ve been legally recognized as a vegetable ever since.
2. In strictly botanical terms, strawberries and raspberries are not actual berries, but bananas and avocados technically are.
3. Swiss chard isn’t native to Switzerland—it originally grew near the Mediterranean. It was named by a Swiss botanist in a clever bit of branding.
4. The durian, a fruit widely available in Asia, has legions of fans despite being awfully stinky—it smells of rotting meat. The stench is so bad that the fruit has been banned on Singapore’s public train systems.
5. There actually was a Granny Smith. Maria Ann Sherwood Smith, an English émigré to Australia, allegedly found the shiny green apples that would eventually bear her name in her orchard beside a creek bed during the 1860s. They were apparently a mutation of a French crab apple.
6. Potatoes weren’t grown in Idaho until 1836. They were introduced there by missionaries moving west.
7. The ugli fruit, or Jamaican tangelo, is actually a hybrid of a grapefruit, orange, and tangerine. It gained its unseemly name because its creators thought it looked unpalatable when ripe.
8. The Black Sapote, a fruit indigenous to Mexico and Central America, tastes like chocolate pudding when ripe. You’ll know when to partake in the faux-chocolatey goodness when the hard green outer skin of the fruit turns black.
9. Besides having an acidic taste similar to grapes, the rambutan—which originated in Southeast Asia—is also an ingredient commonly used in soap products.
10. The molecular makeup of two sugars in beans, called raffinose and stachyose, are too complex for our bodies to break down entirely. The bacteria found in our large intestines break them down into hydrogen and methane, which explains beans’ infamous reputation.
11. Apples, pears, peaches, and plums, among others, are all members of the rose family.
12. Fruits and vegetables aren’t always a bargain. A 17-pound black Densuke watermelon—a rare melon grown only on the island of Hokkaido in Japan—sold at auction for roughly $6100.
13. Dishes containing spinach are known as “Florentine” because Florence native (and later Queen of France) Catherine de’ Medici famously enjoyed munching the healthy leaves.
14. Speaking of spinach, it’s not as loaded with iron as you might think. A German scientist misplaced a decimal point in his research on spinach’s iron content in 1870, and it took 70 years or so for anyone to notice the mistake. Whoops!
15. Despite the popularity of perennial favorites like apples and oranges, the most widely consumed fruit in the world is the mango.