The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends that adults eat 2 or 3 cups each of fruits and vegetables per day. Fruits and vegetables contain relatively few calories and feature high levels of important nutrients. Because of their nutritional value, the American Heart Association considers fruits and veggies an important part of a heart-healthy diet. While these foods are generally good for your body and heart, understanding fat content in fruits and vegetables facilitates healthy diet choices.
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The fat content of fruits and vegetables is important because the CDC recommends eating several servings of these foods each day. People watching their weight or monitoring heart health need to understand the nutritional value of fruits and vegetables to maintain a healthy lifestyle. In general, eating more fruits and veggies while reducing intake of red meats, junk food and other high-fat foods facilitates weight loss and improves overall health.
There are several types of fat, each with its own nutritional value. Chemically, fats consist of chains of carbon atoms with many hydrogen atoms bonded to them. Saturated fats contain the maximum number of hydrogen atoms that can bond to the chain. Unsaturated fats, on the other hand, have one or more double bonds, causing kinks in the chain. Monounsaturated fats have one double bond, while polyunsaturated fats have several. The body breaks down these various types of fats differently, giving them different nutritional properties.
Most fruits and vegetables contain low levels of fats. Because these foods tend to contain high amounts of water, they fill you up without increasing fat levels dramatically. The U.S. Department of Agriculture provides an online nutrient calculator that calculates nutritional content of many fruits and vegetables. Apples, oranges, melon, leafy greens, carrots, potatoes and celery contain low levels of fat. Certain fruits and vegetables contain relatively high levels of fat. Avocados, olives, seeds, coconut and soybean products such as tofu have high fat content. The majority of the fat found in these foods is monounsaturated or polyunsaturated fat, which are healthy forms.
In general, unsaturated fats confer a greater health benefit than saturated fats. MayoClinic.com says that monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats reduce levels of "bad" LDL cholesterol, improving heart health. Omega-3 fatty acids also benefit the heart and lower blood pressure. Saturated fats, on the other hand, should generally be avoided. Saturated fats and trans fats increase LDL cholesterol levels. Most fruits and vegetables high in fat, such as avocados and olives, contain high levels of monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats. Even though these fruits and veggies have high fat profiles, their nutritional benefit remains high. Incorporate these healthy fats into your diets by eating a variety of fruits and vegetables each day.
Although fruits and vegetables tend to be low in fat, some contain relatively high amounts of sugar. Fruits such as apples, oranges, pears and melons have naturally high sugar content. If you have high blood sugar, carefully monitor your intake of these sugary fruits. You can negate the health benefits conferred by a diet high in fruits and vegetables by using unhealthy cooking methods. Fried foods and those cooked with palm or coconut oil contain high levels of fat that lower the nutritional value of fruits and veggies.