Fresh Fruits and Vegetables & Dieting

It's not uncommon to see a nice upward spike in retail produce sales during January and February. Often this trend is due to the diligence of people following through with their New Year’s commitments, one of which is often to eat healthier and perhaps even shed a few pounds. Most diets typically include eating more fresh fruits and vegetables which contributes to the upward sales spike during the months of January and February. There are however, some diets that promote a low-carbohydrate intake that often promotes very little (if any) eating of fresh fruits and vegetables.

In the world of produce, it's really not our terrain to be experts on dieting, however, we are expected to be knowledgeable about fresh produce. With the popularity of diets that may omit fruits and vegetables, it's quite possible that you may need to field questions from your customers about the benefits of eating fresh produce. It's important that we understand the science of how these foods impact our bodies and are able to provide accurate information about the products that we sell. Here are a few points that may be helpful to that end:

- When fruits and vegetables are limited in ones diet because of their carbohydrate content, so are the valuable micronutrients that they provide. Most authorities and advocates of the low-carb diets recognize that these diets are deficient in many of the vitamins and minerals that are normally provided by our fruits and vegetables. Most low-carb advocates recommend supplementing with vitamin supplements, however, many of the carotenoid compounds, phytonutrients, and other “nutraceuticals” obtained from fruits and vegetables aren’t included in most standard vitamin and mineral supplements, and can only be provided by true vegetable extracts. It is these carotenoid compounds and phytonutrients that neutralize free radicals and protect the body’s cells against damage. These are the body’s disease-fighting weapons and are extremely valuable to our health.

- There are four nutrients that provide calories: carbohydrates, fats, proteins, and alcohol. Carbohydrates (as found in fresh fruits and vegetables) are essential in maintaining healthy activity of the sympathetic nervous system and in preventing ketosis, a condition that occurs when the body must breakdown ingested fat for fuel because of a lack of carbohydrates. Ketosis is a potentially dangerous condition that can produce the breakdown of bone, among other things.

- Carbohydrates (including fresh fruits and vegetables) are the body’s primary source of energy, and are quickly and easily converted to blood glucose, the body cells’ preferred source of fuel. In particular, the brain must have glucose as a source of energy. The brain will not use other sources of energy except in the extreme case of starvation, in which ketone bodies (from the breakdown of body fat) are used by the brain. The body cannot store a large amount of carbohydrates; there is only a short supply available as glycogen in the liver and muscle. Therefore, carbohydrates must be supplied on a regular basis.

People looking to find a healthy body weight should always be encouraged, and we certainly endorse activity that promotes good health. It's not our place to make a judgment on the effectiveness of the low-carbohydrate dieting technique as a method for achieving ideal body weight. We do, however, feel very confident and steadfast in continuing to promote organic fresh fruits and vegetables, and believe that organic produce can benefit the health of people in a far greater way if included in their diet, rather than if restricted or omitted from their diet.