Only one-quarter of Americans eat fruits and veggies five or more
times a day, which is unfortunate because within these foods are some
of the healthiest nutrients you can put in your body.
Further, as the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s most recent data shows, 35 percent are eating fruits and veggies just once
or twice a day!
Not to be outdone, fruits have their share of healthy properties as well. When you unwrap a banana or peel a grapefruit, it’s akin to opening your own personal treasure chest of wonderful nutrients. Within each colorful package are antioxidants, vitamins, phytonutrients and more, each with a unique purpose and benefit within your body.
That’s why this month we’ll be focusing on the sweeter side of the functional food arena … and sharing seven fruits that offer outstanding advantages for you and your family.
Seven Healthy fruits and veggies to Enjoy for Your Health!
Whether you fancy blueberries, strawberries, raspberries, blackberries or even the more elusive acai berry, when it comes to berries, you can’t go wrong.
Berries have high levels of anthocyanins, compounds that give them (as well as grapes and other red, purple and blue fruits and veggies) their color and high antioxidant levels. Along with helping to protect your cells from free radicals, studies have shown these antioxidant phytonutrients can:
Protect against liver injuries
Significantly reduce blood pressure
Offer strong anti-inflammatory and antimicrobial properties
Lessen mutations caused by mutagens from cooked food
Suppress the spread of human cancer cells
Further, as written in the Journal of Biomedicine and Biotechnology, “Because of their diverse physiological activities, the consumption
of anthocyanins may play a significant role in preventing lifestyle-related diseases such as cancer, diabetes, cardiovascular and neurological diseases.”
Not bad for a handful of berries!
We’ve all heard the phrase“an apple a day can keep the doctor away”… and it turns out that apples really are a smart choice, especially for your heart health.
Among the heart-healthy antioxidants in apples are quercetin, catechin, phloridzin and chlorogenic acid. These powerful com-pounds help to protect your cardiovascular system from oxygen related damage. Apples also contain flavonoids, which studies have found can help reduce your risk of death due to coronary heart disease, heart disease and all causes. Not only do flavonoids help lower your risk of heart disease, but they also may help fight it if you already have it.
Aside from the antioxidants, apples are also an excellent source of both soluble and insoluble fiber, which may be beneficial for your cholesterol levels.
Research indicates that people who eat apples also have a 27 percent lower risk of having metabolic syndrome, a cluster of symptoms including high blood pressure, high blood sugar levels, high levels of triglycerides, low levels of good “HDL” cholesterol and too much fat around your waist, which is a risk factor for heart disease, stroke and type 2 diabetes.
For best results, eat your apple a day with the skin on, as that’s where many of the antioxidants are located.
Grapefruits are often overshadowed by oranges, arguably the most popular citrus fruit in the United States, but they are just as valuable in nutrients and taste!
These sweet-sour citrus fruits are an excellent source of vitamin C, but that’s far from all. They’re also rich in lycopene, a carotenoid phytonutrient that gives them their pink or red flesh.
Lycopene is a potent antioxidant that may lower your risk of heart disease while fighting free radicals and helping to maintain the integrity of your cell membranes (which is important to allow cells to intake nutrients and filter out toxins).
It’s also been found to help suppress tumor growth, which it may do by stimulating cell-to-cell communication. Abnormal growth of cells that occurs due to poor cell communication may be one cause of cancerous tumors, so lycopene may be an important cancer-fighting antioxidant to include in your family’s diet.
Grapefruit even contains phytonutrients known as limonoids, which studies have shown may fight mouth, skin, lung, breast, stomach and colon cancers.