Unless you’ve been completely cut off from technology and forms of communication with the outside world for the past few decades, you have likely read an article or heard nutritional experts discussing the health benefits of eating a diet rich in fruits and vegetables.
According to the experts at www.choosemyplate.gov, the benefits include keeping your digestive system “moving” and healthy, lowering the risk for some chronic health conditions and lessening the chance of morbid obesity:
- Most vegetables are naturally low in fat and calories. Eating foods such as vegetables that are lower in calories per cup instead of some other higher-calorie food may be useful in helping to lower calorie intake.
- Since none have cholesterol, eating a diet rich in vegetables and fruits as part of an overall healthy diet may reduce risk for heart disease, including heart attack and stroke.
- Vegetables are important sources of many nutrients, including potassium, dietary fiber, folate (folic acid), vitamin A, and vitamin C.
- Diets rich in potassium may help to maintain healthy blood pressure. Eating vegetables and fruits rich in potassium as part of an overall healthy diet may lower blood pressure, and may also reduce the risk of developing kidney stones and help to decrease bone loss. Vegetable sources of potassium include sweet potatoes, white potatoes, white beans, tomato products (paste, sauce, and juice), beet greens, soybeans, lima beans, spinach, lentils, and kidney beans.
- Dietary fiber from vegetables, as part of an overall healthy diet, helps reduce blood cholesterol levels and may lower risk of heart disease, obesity, and type 2 diabetes. Fiber is important for proper bowel function. It helps reduce constipation and diverticulosis. Fiber-containing foods such as vegetables help provide a feeling of fullness with fewer calories.
- Folate (folic acid) helps the body form red blood cells. Women of childbearing age who may become pregnant should consume adequate folate from foods, and in addition 400 mcg of synthetic folic acid from fortified foods or supplements. This reduces the risk of neural tube defects, spina bifida, and anencephaly during fetal development.
- Vitamin A keeps eyes and skin healthy and helps to protect against infections.
- Vitamin C helps heal cuts and wounds and keeps teeth and gums healthy. Vitamin C aids in iron absorption.
- Eating a diet rich in some vegetables and fruits as part of an overall healthy diet may protect against certain types of cancers.
- Red fruits and vegetables containing Lycopene (Red Peppers, Tomatoes, Guavas, Mangoes, Papayas, Watermelon, Strawberries, Red Grapes, Grapefruit, Asparagus, and Purple Cabbage) are said to ward off the damaging rays of the sun that cause sunburn, while their antioxidant properties also contribute to the removal of free radicals that can lead to cancer and heart disease.
My grandma got on the healthy living bandwagon in the mid 70’s embracing Jack LaLanne, making her own yogurt & drying her own fruit, the Cambridge Diet and trying to share her healthy living with my raw ground beef, all things canned-meat eating grandpa. I bet you can guess where that got her….nowhere. Hmmm.
While she was beating a dead horse in her own home, I can say that she did instill in me a love of fruits, vegetables and being pretty healthy. I’m not lying though, I never passed up one of grandpa’s delicacies either: chipped beef, SPAM, and even Vienna sausages. I never claimed to be perfect. 😉
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