A Zonal Coordinator of the Ghana Dietetics Association, Mr. Divine Eli-Cophie has stated that there is a drastic decline in the consumption of fruits and vegetables in Ghana. According to him, the national average consumption of fruits and vegetables daily is far below the World Health Organization’s (WHO’s) recommended rate.
Currently, an average Ghanaian consumes 1.5 per cent portion of fruits and 2.3 per cent portion of vegetables daily, as against the WHO requirement of four to six per cent per day. Outlining the reasons for the decline in the consumption of fruits and vegetables, Mr Eli-Cophie said the living conditions of people coupled with the high cost of fruits and vegetables are some of the reasons that account for their low consumption.
“We realized that people do not think about the consumption of fruits because they are always concerned with staples, which will offer immediate benefits,” he said. Mr Divine Eli-Cophie, who is a Dietitian at the Right to Know Consultancy in Tamale, said the condition of fruits and vegetables in Ghana also contributes to the decline, adding that “Most people are scared of consuming them because some of the water they use to grow them is contaminated."
He added that although 50 per cent of Ghanaians know the benefits of fruits and vegetables, “they do not have money to buy them, thereby affecting their regular intake.” He also attributed the decline to ignorance about the value of fruits and vegetables to the human health saying, most people still do not know their importance.
Most people according to him believe the fruits and vegetables currently are chemically grown which they feel is not healthy for consumption. The situation, he said, has led to the high incidence of non-communicable diseases, particularly among the youth. He said unless urgent measures are put in place to remedy the situation, the nation would risk losing its youth to poor health conditions.
Outlining the importance of fruits and vegetables in an interview with Zaa news, Mr Eli-Cophie noted that fruits and vegetables contain many vitamins and minerals that are good for human health. These include vitamins A, C and E, magnesium, zinc, phosphorous and folic acid. Folic acid may reduce blood levels of homo-cysteine, a substance that may be a risk factor for coronary heart disease, adding that fruits and vegetables are low in fat, salt and sugar and are a good source of dietary fiber.
As part of a well-balanced, regular diet and a healthy, active lifestyle, a high intake of fruits and vegetables can help reduce obesity and maintain a healthy weight, lower your cholesterol, and lower your blood pressure, he added.
"You can also have a lower risk of stroke, heart (cardiovascular) disease – when fruits and vegetables are eaten as food, not taken as supplements, and some forms of cancers." He therefore advised that enough fruits and vegetables be consumed at least twice a day to avoid the contraction of any disease, saying little discussions we make each day concerning our health go a long way to help protect our health.
BY: LILIAN D. WALTER