Can a Multivitamin Replace Fruits and Vegetables?
Should you get your nutrients from those multivitamin pills instead of fruits and veggies?
Not to forget, nutrients are most potent when they come from food. They are accompanied by numerous non-essential but beneficial nutrients, like fiber, carotenoids, flavonoids, minerals and antioxidants that are usually absent in most supplements.
An add on, food tastes much better than gulping those pills every day. However, some nutrients like vitamin need a supplement (due to unavailability of adequate amounts in food). Also, some supplements have uncomfortable side effects like Iron supplementation is linked to constipation. Some supplements are also far more expensive than the whole foods.
Overall, supplements cannot replace fruits and vegetables in your healthy diet. But, in case of pregnancy or severe deficiencies, medically supervised supplements may be beneficial for you.
If you feel that your body is lacking in certain nutrients, then focus on changing your diet and lifestyle first rather than reaching out for supplements.
“Eat your Rainbow” is a childhood mantra and a lesson that almost every health professional will teach their patients. But the problem is that many of the people hate vegetables as many are bitter in taste or bad in appearance.
Many people never had a relationship with vegetables and fruits as they weren’t a priority in the diet. Hearing the words Palak, carrot and bottle gourd, makes many people make a face and say Eew!!!
Whatever maybe the reason, it is required to keep your loathsome feelings towards vegetable and fruits aside.
According to the National Institutes of Health, a majority of adults in the United States take one or more dietary supplements daily or occasionally. But the truth is that these multivitamin pills cannot actually replace fruit and vegetable intake
Do you hate veggies??
The bitter flavour of bitter gourd, texture of broccoli, appearance of sweet potatoes may make you eat very less of them. But eating veggies is closely linked with “healthy eating” as they are packed with all the vitamins, minerals, ample fiber and hydrating fluids.
If your answer is “YES” to the above question, a little change in the way you make and present, can make a lot of difference.
- Drink the vegetables and fruits - Making a delicious fruit or a vegetable smoothie is one of the easiest and tastiest way to eat them. The sweetness of the fruits will overpower the vegetable taste
- Certain cooking methods like roasting gives crispiness and brings out the veggie’s natural sweetness instead of boiling, steaming or making the vegetable mushy.
- A little butter, a little cheese, salt and pepper can make all the difference.
- Hide it in the dishes you know you love - For instance, blending vegetables into a thin or fine puree and adding it in your dough, soups, parathas or sauces. Also finely chopping veggies like broccoli, carrots, beans and adding them into whisked curd or your favourite pasta. Hence, you will nab the required nutrients and fibre without even noticing the veggies.
- Play matchmaking - Proper pairing and matching of food groups can be of a great help. Like the boiled vegetable sticks served with some curd dip!! Dips and veggie combination are a match made in heaven. Carrots and spinach dip, hummus with grated carrots, potatoes with sweet chilli dips, apple and cinnamon flavoured curd and the combinations are endless. Introducing a rich flavour to the vegetable can make it more appealing
- Don’t be turned off by frozen vegetables and fruits – Keep a few vegetables and fruits of your choice like green peas, Methi leaves, frozen mangoes, berries into the freezer and then add them into your meals as you embark on a healthier journey.
- Play with flavours - Vegetables don’t always have to be bland. Experiment with different spices, herbs, dressings, a squeeze of lemon or vinegar.
- Add more colour - Are your kids turned down by the pale green vegetable colour? If yes, then instead of forcing these greens, try introducing some colours like colourful bell peppers, corn, pineapple and berries
Why Five in a Day?
Fruits and vegetables are an integral part of a healthy and balanced diet. So, it is really important for you to eat enough of them. How much fruits and vegetables you need to eat is based on your age, gender and activity levels.
According to WHO (World Health Organization), you should be eating 5 portions of fruits and vegetables everyday and it is associated with lower risk of death from heart diseases, stroke or cancer too! (BMJ Nutrition, prevention and health, 2014: 349 doi) .
They can be fresh, frozen, canned, dried or juiced!! 1 portion of fruit or vegetable is equivalent to a size of a tennis ball. Also, a variety of them should be added to your plate as no single fruit or vegetable provides all the required nutrients that you require.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Sneha Jain, Dietician
Sneha is a Post graduate with specialization in Nutrition and Dietetics. She is a university topper and holds 5+ years of experience in Apollo hospitals, VLCC, slimsutra and first cry fit-kids . She has successfully counselled clients all over India for weight loss, weight gain, diabetes, hypertension, PCOD, hypothyroid, Pregnancy and lactation and growth charts for children. She has her own diet consultation e-clinic (diet_diariez)
She believes in customized diets and eating local and seasonal foods. Her counselling not only involves diet planning, but also lifestyle modification and stress relief strategies.