vitalvegetables® asked Angela Berrill, an expert nutritionist passionate about educating New Zealanders on the importance of diet, to share her expertise with you.
For a number of years Angela was the nutrition advisor and expert for TV3's Target programme and is regularly called on to use her skills as a nutrition writer to contribute to a number of well known publications.
We asked Angela a few questions about vitalvegetables® and nutrition.
Q. Is there a benefit in offering mixed vegetable products that deliver a naturally higher level of nutrients per serve? After all, all vegetables are good for you aren't they?
A. That’s right, all vegetables are good for us. They provide us with a range of nutrients to support our health and wellbeing. However, not all vegetables contain the same mixture of nutrients or at the same levels. The vitalvegetables® products contain a guaranteed level of key nutrients to support good health, as well as providing at least 25% of the antioxidant vitamin C you need each day* in every serve. This helps you reach your daily intake of nutrients more easily.
* Suggested daily intake
Q. Don’t the levels of nutrients in vegetables vary from season to season? How does vitalvegetables® maintain a target level of nutrients per serving year-round?
A. The levels of nutrients in vegetables can vary according to variety, from season to season or even from field to field. However, vitalvegetables® are developed by selecting the right varieties of vegetables and growing them in a particular way to ensure you receive a minimum level of nutrients to support your health in every serve. Analysis has been conducted over different seasons to ensure that even in the months when nutrients are at their lowest, vitalvegetables® always contain more than the minimum target levels.
Due to seasonal variability, vitalvegetables salad blends are monitored and adjusted to ensure peak nutrition is maintained.
Q. Why are vegetable nutrients so important to good health?
A. We all know that vegetables are good for us and essential for our health and wellbeing. However, each vegetable contains many different nutrients (e.g. vitamins A from carotenoids C, K), some of which cannot be produced by our own bodies. Therefore, we need to get these nutrients from our diet. In addition to the vitamins and minerals, found in vegetables, they also contain many phytonutrients. Phytonutrients are only found in plants. While phytonutrients are not essential for keeping us alive, research shows that they do play a very important role in promoting optimal health and helping our bodies function at their best.
Consumers are often confused about vegetables. Market research undertaken as part of the vitalvegetables® programme shows that there are many myths surrounding the purchase and preparation of fresh vegetables.
Q. Do vegetables lose their goodness as soon as they are cut?
The goodness of most vegetables is maintained after they have been picked by:
- Storing vegetables at low temperature,
- Limiting water loss by packaging and
- Keeping fruit and vegetables separate.
These three simple steps will slow the chemical reactions taking place inside vegetables so that the nutrients are kept for longer. The minimum level of key nutrients in vitalvegetables® products is assured until the end of the best before date to account for any losses that do occur.
Q. Is plastic wrapping is bad for vegetables?
A. Many of the new plastic wraps help to maintain the freshness, colour and flavour of vegetables. Packed vegetables don’t dry out as quickly and stay fresher for longer, but they must be kept in the fridge.
Q. Are pre-cut, pre-packaged vegetables poorer quality?
A. Only the best quality vegetables are used in pre-cut, pre-packaged vitalvegetables® products and their nutrient content has to pass the minimum levels that are set. This ensures that you have access to the most nutritious, convenient and chilled vegetable products available.
Q. Has the taste and nutrient levels of vegetables declined over the years?
A. Recently, consumer demand for good taste has seen an improvement in the flavour and increased nutritional content of certain vegetables. The vitalvegetables® programme is addressing the nutrient levels of vegetables. While nutrient levels have not declined, they just have not been a target for improvement by vegetable breeders in the past. It is vitalvegetables® goal to search for and select seeds that grow into vegetables with guaranteed high levels of certain nutrients.