As we step into the New Year, many Kenyans see it as a chance to make positive changes in their lives. It’s an opportunity for a fresh start and a time to break old habits. We suggest adding a new resolution to your list – take a closer look at what you eat.
Including a variety of fruits and vegetables in your regular meals can contribute to your growth, development, and overall well-being. A diet rich in these foods can have numerous health benefits, such as lowering blood pressure, reducing the risk of cardiovascular diseases, preventing certain cancers, and even aiding in weight loss.
The World Health Organization (WHO) reports that insufficient intake of fruits and vegetables resulted in about 3.9 million deaths globally in 2017, with 14 percent of gastrointestinal cancer-related deaths attributed to this factor. To stay healthy, WHO recommends adults consume at least five servings of fruits and vegetables per day, excluding starchy vegetables.
Despite a 46 percent increase in Kenya’s GDP over the past 15 years, recent data reveals that only 65 percent of Kenyans consume dark green leafy vegetables. This falls short of the WHO’s recommended daily intake of 400g of fruits and vegetables per person, leading to micronutrient challenges in the country.
To address the malnutrition crisis and reduce the burden of health-related diseases, diversifying vegetable consumption is crucial. Dark green leafy vegetables like managu (black nightshade), terere (amaranth), kale, and spinach are packed with essential vitamins and minerals.
Vitamin A-rich vegetables such as carrots and orange-fleshed sweet potatoes contribute significantly to eye health and overall immunity. Including a variety of vegetables in your diet provides a range of antioxidants, fiber, and micronutrients vital for maintaining good health.
Eating a colorful array of fruits and vegetables not only keeps you healthy but also adds variety, taste, and texture to your meals. These nutrient-rich plants can be creatively incorporated into different cuisines, from stir-fries to salads and soups to stews.
Vegetables, especially African leafy vegetables, are well-suited to local climates and are more resilient to diseases. They grow quickly and can be harvested three to four weeks after planting, making them a convenient and accessible option for home cultivation.
Nutritionists recommend that half of your plate should consist of fruits and vegetables. As you set your New Year resolutions, consider including a diverse range of fruits and vegetables in your daily diet for a healthier, better-nourished, and more economically productive Kenya. These nutrient-rich plants play a vital role in improving overall dietary patterns and combating micronutrient deficiencies.