The United Nations says fruits and vegetables remained the cornerstone of a healthy diet but lamented that despite their tremendous benefits, many do not consume enough of them.
UN Secretary-General, Mr. António Guterres, stated this during the launch of a campaign to promote the consumption of fruits and vegetables in 2021.
The UN has designated 2021 as the International Year of Fruits and Vegetables, spotlighting their vital role in human nutrition and food security.
The global body also called for more efforts to improve sustainable production of fruits and vegetables.
In his message during the launch of the campaign on Monday, Guterres said, “Despite tremendous benefits of fruits and vegetables, we do not consume enough of them.”
“Fruits and vegetables are the cornerstones of a healthy and varied diet. They provide the human body with an abundance of nutrients, strengthen immune systems and help lower risks for a number of diseases.
“As the COVID-19 pandemic continues to affect the health and livelihoods of people across the world, we must come together to ensure that nutritious food, including fruits and vegetables, reaches the most vulnerable, leaving no one behind.”
Guterres further said, “Consuming sufficient, or even more than the recommended amounts, of fruit and vegetables has many health and nutrition benefits.
“Rich in fibres, vitamins and minerals, fruits and vegetables are crucial for the growth and development of children and help boost immune systems.
“They are also linked to lower risk of depression and anxiety, obesity and non-communicable diseases; promote gut health, and counter micronutrient deficiencies.”
According to the World Health Organisation, people should eat a minimum of 400 grams of fruits and vegetables daily, as part of a healthy diet.
Guterres, however, said due to a number of factors, such as availability, affordability, or lack of knowledge and awareness, many people around the world consume less than that amount.
The UN chief also drew attention to the strong links between food systems and sustainable development.
He urged stakeholders to make food systems more inclusive, resilient and sustainable, including through adopting a more holistic approach to production and consumption that benefits human and environmental health.
“Let us use this International Year to rethink our relationship with how we produce and consume food, and to re-examine our food systems and commit to a healthier, more resilient and sustainable world where everyone can access and afford the diverse nutrition they need,” he said.
The International Year of Fruits and Vegetables 2021 was proclaimed by the General Assembly in December 2019 to raise awareness on the important role of fruits and vegetables in human nutrition, food security and health, as well as in achieving Sustainable Development Goals
It will promote diversified, balanced, and healthy diets and lifestyles through fruits and vegetable consumption, reducing losses and waste in fruits and vegetables food systems, and share best practices.
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