What’s the difference between fruit and vegetables, and which are best for athletes?

Wondering how fruit and vegetables differ nutritionally, and if one's better than the other for athletes? Nutritionist Sophie Heath explains

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Fruits are found in the flowering part of a plant, whereas vegetables are from the rest of the plant. Nutritionally they’re very similar; both provide a great source of fibre (many of which are prebiotic – meaning they’re great food for good gut bacteria), vitamins, minerals and other compounds great for health, like antioxidants. Both can be good options for hydration too, as they have a high water content. 

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The main difference nutritionally is in the amount of sugar; as expected fruits often have higher amounts of simple sugars which means they may be more useful when needing a quick release of energy. 

However, it depends on the type of fruit – one cup of blueberries for example contains around 15g of sugar, versus one cup of mango which can have around 25g. Dried fruit also has more sugar than fresh, so is a great refuel option during exercise. The bottom line is that a variety of both is going to ensure you get a wide array of nutrients, which will support your body in energy-provision, recovery and general health. 

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Sophie Heath is a registered nutritionist with a masters in sport and exercise nutrition, and is a brand and account manager for Go Faster Food Ltd