Fruits and vegetables (FVs) are recognized as healthy constituents of diet and a sustainable solution to the existing twin burden of micronutrient deficiencies and non-communicable diseases in developing and developed countries. In general, FVs are nutrient dense foods low in energy, containing varying amounts of vitamins and minerals including carotenoids, B vitamins, vitamin C, iron, zinc, potassium, calcium, magnesium and fibre. These are abundantly rich in phytochemicals that function as antioxidants, anti-atherosclerotic and anti-inflammatory agents. This review summarizes some epidemiological, prospective cohort and intervention studies on the health benefits of FVs in relation to cardiovascular disease, obesity and diabetes. The rich varieties of FVs available, their composition, production scenario in India, dietary intake and trends over time, barriers to sufficient intake mainly sociocultural, economic and horticulture environment, policies for promotion and prevention of diseases are considered.
Keywords: Cardiovascular disease; diabetes; fruits and vegetables; micronutrients; obesity; phytonutrients.