Fruits and Vegetables for Optimal Health

We’ve all been told at one time or another: “Eat your fruits and vegetables.” What used to be a standard order for children given by adults is now supported by a vast amount of research which proves that eating fruits and vegetables is good for the health.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends regular consumption of fruits and vegetables. According to the CDC, diets rich in fruits and vegetables can reduce the risk of cancer and other chronic diseases. Fruits and vegetables provide essential vitamins, minerals, fiber and an array of other substances that are vital to good health. Most fruits and vegetables are also low in fat and calories.

The Harvard School of Public Health has compiled compelling evidence gathered from various research tests regarding the role of vegetables and fruits in the prevention of several diseases.

Fruits and Vegetables Prevent Coronary Diseases

Diets rich in fruits and vegetables can lower the risk of heart disease and stroke. This was proven by the longest and largest study to date, which was done as part of the Nurses’ Health Study and Health Professionals Follow-up Study based in Harvard. The study involved 110,000 men and women, whose dietary and health habits were monitored for 14 years. The conclusion reached by the researchers is that the more fruits and vegetables are consumed, the lower the chances of developing cardiovascular disease. People who ate an average eight or more servings a day were 30 percent less likely to suffer from a heart attack or a stroke.

All fruits and vegetables can contribute to good health, but among those found to be important in maintaining good cardiovascular health are green leafy vegetables including lettuce, spinach, Swiss chard, and mustard greens. Cruciferous vegetables like broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, Brussels sprouts, bok choy, kale and citrus fruits like oranges, lemons, limes, and grapefruit also helped strengthen the cardiovascular system.

Other Diseases Prevented by Fruit and Vegetable-rich Diets

The Optimal Macronutrient Intake Trial for Heart Health (OmniHeart), a randomized trial, showed that a diet rich in vegetables and fruits lowered blood pressure. Better results were attained when some carbohydrates were replaced with healthy kinds of unsaturated fats and protein.

Furthermore, an in-depth report by the World Cancer Research Fund and the American Institute for Cancer Research indicates that non-starchy vegetables, including lettuce and other leafy greens, such as broccoli, bok choy, cabbage, as well as garlic, onions, and fruits could probably prevent several types of cancers, such as cancer of the mouth, throat, voice box, esophagus, and stomach; and fruit could probably prevent lung cancer.

The indigestible fiber in fruits and vegetables can calm an irritable bowel and prevent constipation. The insoluble fiber can also decrease pressure inside the intestines and help prevent the development of little pouches inside the colon known as diverticulosis; and the painful inflammation of these pouches, which is called diverticulitis.

In addition, eating lots of fruits and vegetables keeps the eyes in good shape by preventing cataract and macular degeneration, two common age-related eye diseases.