The George Mateljan Foundation is a non-profit organization free of commercial influence, which provides this website for you free of charge. Our purpose is to provide you with unbiased scientific information about how nutrient-rich World's Healthiest Foods can promote vibrant health and energy and fit your personal needs and busy lifestyle.

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Are vegetables and fruits equally good for my health?

We included a long list of both fruits and vegetables in the World's Healthiest Foods, and we did so not only for health and nourishment reasons, but also because of the beauty and diversity of these foods. There are so many unique fruits and vegetables growing on the earth! The colors, shapes, and tastes of these foods are totally unique and unsurpassed within the food world! It's impossible for us to imagine the experience of the World's Healthiest Foods without ample amounts of fruits and vegetables.

When you compare fruits and vegetables on a nutritional basis, however, there is no question that vegetables are more nutrient dense and contain a much wider variety of nutrients than fruits. If you think about the lives of the plants, this difference makes sense. In the world of vegetables, we eat many parts of the plants that either grow very close to the soil (like stems and stalks) or beneath the ground itself (like roots) This closeness to the soil brings the plant into contact with the diversity of soil minerals, and almost all vegetables are richer in minerals than fruits for this reason. Fruits are also more of an end-stage occurrence: in the case of an apple tree, for example, the tree has already lived and developed for a good number of years before it produces a significant amount of edible fruit. Unlike a root, which is in charge of nutrient delivery from the soil up into the rest of the plant, the fruit (like an apple) is not nearly as active in supporting the life of the plant (although it's seeds are dramatically important in allowing the tree to produce new offspring and create future generations of apple trees). Because the stems and stalks and roots are more involved in the plant's life support, they also tend to have a greater variety of vitamins (especially B complex vitamins) than fruits.

Most fruits have a concentrated amount of sugar, and for this reason, are higher-calorie and less nutrient dense than most vegetables. Starchy root vegetables like potatoes are closer to fruits in calorie content, but green leafy vegetables are enormously lower in calories and greater in nutrient density.

In summary, if you had to choose between fruits and vegetables as a foundation for your health, you would do best to select vegetables because of their greater nutrient diversity and nutrient density. Luckily, however, it is not an either-or situation, and you can take pleasure in the delights of both fruits and vegetables while increasing your reliance on the World's Healthiest Foods!