FRUITS AND VEGETABLES PREVENT DISEASE
In the not so distant past, nutritionists and consumers viewed fruits and vegetables as average foods. Recent studies have dramatically changed this perspective. We now know fruits and vegetables are packed with chemicals capable of preventing a host of diseases, including heart disease and cancers. Read to find out more...
Fruits and Vegetables Preventing Disease?
As mentioned above, fruits and vegetables are almost like magic pills able to prevent the development of some of the most common and feared health problems.
Fruits and Vegetables Can Prevent Heart Disease
As they lack cholesterol and have a very low amount of saturated fat, fruits and vegetables are the ideal choice for a heart-friendly diet. In addition, they have few calories and a high amount of fiber, both of which have a positive impact on cardiovascular health.
Data from the Physicians' Health Study
showed that participants with the highest intake of vegetables had a 23 percent reduction in occurrence of coronary heart disease
. The highest intake group
ate more than three servings of vegetables a day.
Fruits and Vegetables Can Prevent Stroke
A somewhat similar study, this time on both men and women, done at Harvard University - the Nurses' Health Study
, has provided compelling evidence that fruits and vegetables protect against heart disease in both sexes. Moreover, they have significant stroke preventing properties. Compared with those in the lowest category of fruit and vegetable intake (less than 1.5 servings a day), those who averaged 8 or more servings a day were 30% less likely to have had a heart attack or stroke
Fruits are amazing. They are packed with protective phytonutrients.
This is an unusually strong effect. To give you an idea of how powerful this is, daily aspirin reduces the risk of stroke by a maximum of 25%. In addition, taking aspirin daily is not an easy task for most people - even if we are talking about a baby aspirin. If you have tried to take a pill every day for years, you know what I am talking about. As good as aspirin is, the protective effect is rapidly lost when it is no longer taken. To say nothing about the adverse effects of this otherwise excellent drug. My point is not to discourage you from taking aspirin, if this is what your doctor recommended. What I want to suggest is you should seriously think about eating eight or more servings of fruits and vegetables
daily, which will provide you with an even more powerful protection against stroke and other diseases.
Fruits and Vegetables Can Lower High Blood Pressure
The DASH Eating Plan
is one of the best diets for people with high blood pressure. It is clinically proven to significantly reduce blood pressure in people with elevated levels.
One of the key components of the DASH diet, besides lowering the intake of sodium, is the emphasis on fruits and vegetables. In a 2,000 calories a day DASH eating plan, it is recommended one should eat 8-10 servings of fruits and vegetables
Fruits and Vegetables Can Prevent Cancer
According to the American Institute For Cancer Research, diets containing substantial and varied amounts of vegetables and fruits will prevent 20% or more of all cases of cancer
. Of all food groups, evidence of dietary protection against cancer is strongest and most consistent for diets high in vegetables and fruits.
Another study done at the University of California compared the diets of 2,200 people. Of these, 532 had pancreatic cancer, and 1,700 were healthy adults. The results, published in the September 2005 issue of the Cancer, Epidemiology, Biomarkers and Prevention journal, indicate that eating five servings of fruits and vegetables every day may cut the risk of pancreatic cancer in half
! The most protective foods in this study were onions, garlic, beans, carrots, corn, dark leafy vegetables and citrus fruits.
The complex relationship between diet and cancer is examined elsewhere on our site (please read A Cancer Prevention Diet
for more details).
Fruits and Vegetables Can Help Weight Management
When it comes to weight control, few foods are more appropriate than fruits and vegetables. They are rich in nutrients yet low in calories. A typical serving of vegetables has about 25 calories, while an average serving of fruits has about 60 calories. If you take the above advice seriously and eat 4 servings of vegetables and 4 fruits daily, you total only 340 calories. This leaves you plenty of room to eat other healthy foods, like whole grains
, nuts, seeds, legumes, etc.
Fruits and Vegetables Can Help Prevent Cataracts
According to a study published in the July 2005 issue of the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition
, eating more fruits and vegetables has a protective effect against cataracts. The study participants were over 35,000 women over 45 years of age involved in the women's health study, which is an ongoing study of female health professionals in the United States. During an average of 10 years of follow-up, over 2,000 women developed cataracts. Researchers found that women who reported eating the most fruits and vegetables had a 10-15 percent lower risk of developing cataracts than those who ate less. Fruits and vegetables are known to contain many antioxidants and phytochemicals which are the most likely candidates for this protective effect.