Fruits and Vegetables Important for Good Health
In 2005 the United States Department of Agriculture came out with a new food guide pyramid to increase understanding of basic nutrition guidelines for health and well being. The new food guide pyramid helped people to better find a balance between food intake and physical activity, get the most nutrition for the calories, stay within daily calorie needs, and identify portion guidelines for all food groups. As the summer crops of fruits and vegetables are being harvested and sold, now is a great time to focus on this part of the food pyramid. According to Lakes Regional Healthcare (LRH) Registered Dietitian Beth Samuelson, a 2,000 calorie diet meets the needs of most semi-active adults, and as part of that diet, a little over a quart of a variety of fruits and vegetables is recommended every day.
According to Samuelson, fruits and vegetables provide vital nutrients like fiber, potassium, folic acid, and Vitamins A, C, E, and K. She said, “The vital nutrients and antioxidants in fruits and vegetables are important for heart health, immune function and cancer prevention, kidney health, bone health, blood sugar management, skin health, prevention of birth defects, and enhance the absorption of other nutrients like iron.” She said that researchers from the University of London found that consumption of just five servings of fruit and vegetables per day reduced the risk of stroke by 25 percent. The World Cancer Research Fund reviewed over 4,500 research studies and came to the conclusion that "over time, the daily consumption of five or more servings of a variety of vegetables and fruit could, by itself, decrease overall cancer incidence by at least 20 percent."
Fruits and vegetables are also a rich source of antioxidants, which are phytochemicals and other substances in food that slow or prevent damage to the body. Recent studies suggest that the antioxidants in fruits and vegetables could prevent or reduce the risk of chronic diseases. In addition, special growing requirements like organic farming increase the antioxidants in vegetables up to two times according to a recent study from the University of California at Davis. On the opposite spectrum, scientists of genetically modified vegetables with no special growing requirements have been developed to have 78 times more antioxidants according to researchers at University of Exeter in England.
Those interested in more information about how nutrition affects health or in scheduling a nutrition counseling session can contact LRH Registered Dietitian Beth Samuelson at 712-336-8785.