It is a no brainer that what you eat in private is eventually what you wear in public; in other words, what you eat literally becomes you. So, the choice is completely yours. for those who think they don't have time for healthy eating, will sooner or later have to find time for illness. And you surely don't want to end up in that category, do you?
Fruits and vegetables are the only foods which have been consistently associated with reduction of risk in various diseases such as cancer, heart disease, diabetes, hypertension and age related macular degeneration. Follow the "five-a-day" recommendation in which experts recommend a total of five servings (comprised of both fruits and vegetables) per day. Research has shown that doing so may reduce the risk of stroke by more than 30 percent.
AdvertisementYou have all seen an apple slice turning brown within seconds of cutting it. This happens when oxygen reacts with the apple resulting in a process called oxidation, which produces free radicals. The apple eventually rots if kept exposed to air. The same mechanism occurs in your body, the cells lining your lungs or in a cut on your skin.
Free radicals are the unstable byproducts of oxidation, which causes iron to rust and a peeled apple or banana to turn brown. In the body, free radicals destroy cell membranes and make cells vulnerable to decay and pathogens. Our mother nature provides a unique defence against these free radicals in the form of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, nuts, and legumes. Foods rich in antioxidants such as beta-carotene, vitamin C and vitamin E help the body shield against harmful effects of free radicals.
A research conducted by Nutrilite Health Institute of Amway finds the majority of adults worldwide would have to at least double their current consumption of fruits and vegetables to meet the World Health Organization's minimum recommendation of five servings (400 grams) per day.
It was also reported that about 60 to 87 percent of adults across 13 geographic diet regions - were falling short of this recommendation and missing out on crucial nutrition and health benefits. The researchers emphasized that fruits and vegetable intake was quite low in Asian countries, including India.
Scientists have recently begun recognizing the importance of a category of chemical substance called phytochemicals or phytonutrients. They are organic compounds found in fruits and vegetables - potentially needed to support your health and wellness. Examples of phytochemicals include the pigment-containing compounds (e.g., the pigment that makes blueberries blue) and flavonoids. These flavonoids have been reported to possess more potent antioxidant properties than vitamins C and E.
There has been ample research on phytonutrients which suggests that eating foods rich in them may provide a range of health benefits, from promoting eye, bone and heart health, to supporting immune and brain function. Many phytonutrients are reported to be powerful antioxidants which help fight the damage caused to the cells in our bodies over a period of time.
Keith Randolph, Ph.D., nutrition technology strategist at the Nutrilite Health Institute and co-author of the research published in the British Journal of Nutrition said "Insights from the research highlight a global need for increased awareness of the relationship between fruit and vegetable consumption, and phytonutrient intakes."
A study was conducted in 13 regions to gauge the impact of low fruit and vegetable consumption on phytonutrient intake. Data obtained from this study showed that adults consuming five or more daily servings of fruits and vegetables had two to six times the average intake of phytonutrients of adults consuming fewer than five servings per day.
The study also took into consideration the variety and availability of fruits and vegetables in each of the regions. It showed that due to limited availability of some fruits and vegetables, phytonutrient intake was also low in some regions.
Mary Murphy, MS, RD, senior managing scientist at Exponent, Inc. and co-author of the study said that "Both the amount and variety of fruits and vegetables in a person's diet are important. In order to consume a range of phytonutrients people should aim to meet recommended intakes of fruits and vegetables and eat an assortment of fruits and vegetables."
Dr. Randolph also acknowledged the fact that our busy schedule, cost, seasonal and geographic availability, as well as perceptions of the value of fruits and vegetables as a food source could influence people's consumption of fruits and vegetables, and ultimately phytonutrients.
Tips to increase your fruit and vegetable intake:
• Try to double your normal intake of vegetables and fruits. You could add a banana or berries to your regular breakfast routine, incorporate a salad and an apple in your lunch and have at least two vegetables with supper.
• Stock up cut raw vegetables in your refrigerator and snack on them instead of fried items such as potato chips.
• Make sure your sandwiches are stacked high with vegetables of your choice such as spinach, cucumber, tomatoes, sprouts etc.
• Do not boil vegetables for a long time; this step is important to retain their vitamins. Once cooked, eat them as soon as possible. Consider baking, stir-fry or steaming vegetables for better nutrient retention.
• Choose whole fruit over fruit drinks and juices as fruit juices could have lost fiber from the fruit during the process.
• Talk to your health care provider and discuss the need of taking a multivitamin and mineral supplement daily. Remember it should be used along with a healthy diet, high in fruit and vegetables.
• Last, but not the least, remember that substitution is the key. Eat fruits and vegetables instead of some other higher-calorie food.
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