Nutrient is defined as a substance obtained from food and used in the body to promote growth, maintenance, and repair of body tissues, or fundamentally as something that offers nourishment. Broadly speaking, nutrients are classified into 2 groups, namely macronutrients (also known as energy-producing nutrients) and micronutrients (which are characterised by their essentiality for human health and the low quantities in which they need to be consumed). Energy-producing nutrients include proteins, fats, and carbohydrates. Micronutrients refer to minerals and vitamins. Phytochemicals, also termed bioactive compounds, are substances present in foods in low quantities that may have a role in health maintenance in humans.
Fruits have proved to be essential for a balanced diet. The reasoning being due to their content of vitamins, fibres, and phytochemicals, the latter being responsible in part for the antioxidant properties of fruits and foods of fruit origin. In general, minerals, vitamins, fibres, and water are considered to be the main nutrients contributed by fruits to a balanced diet, and thus special attention should be given to consuming them.
Consuming plenty of fruit ensures that the risk of heart disease, including strokes and myocardial infarctions, is minimised. It can also reduce the risk of certain kinds of cancers. Consuming plenty of bananas, rich in potassium, may reduce the risk of kidney stones, lower blood pressure, and help to reduce the likelihood of osteoporosis. It can also reduce the risk of type 2 diabetes and obesity. Most fruits are especially low in sodium, calories, fat, and none have cholesterol. Vitamin C is important for growth and repair of skin, including wounds and cuts, while also keeping the contents of the mouth healthy.
- Hui, Y. H., Jozsef Barta, and M. Pilar Cano. Handbook of Fruits and Fruit Processing Science and Technology. Hoboken: John Wiley & Sons, 2006.
- Terry, Leon A. Health-promoting properties of fruit and vegetables. Wallingford, Oxfordshire, UK: CABI, 2011.