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Don't Forget to Eat Your Vegetables!

The Benefits of Fruit
The familiar saying, "An apple a day keeps the doctor away" is actually quite accurate. Red Delicious, Gaia and Granny Smith apples all have high concentrations of flavonoids - phytochemicals that are powerful antioxidants.

Antioxidants protects against free radical damage thereby assisting in the fight against aging, heart disease, atherosclerosis, inflammation and cancer.

Other enticing sources of flavonoids are red grapes, raisins, oranges, figs, plums, and berries such as blueberries, blackberries, cranberries and raspberries.  Flavonoids are even found in avocados and walnuts, which are also high in healthy fats.

Try adding some organic berries to some whole milk organic yogurt for a delicious snack or light meal.

The phytochemicals provided by vegetables and fruits can enhance your health and longevity.

Most kids are not very fond of vegetables. Some will go through the motions, pushing broccoli spears and lima beans around their plate a few times, while very little actually makes it into their mouth.

And yet, we would love to have our children eat their vegetables on a regular basis. The best way to accomplish this is to prepare fresh veggies each day, and to set a good example by eating the veggies on our own plates!

Why is making this a priority worth your time and effort?  Mainly because vegetables contain a plethora of very powerful ingredients that help keep us healthy and help us ward off a wide range of serious illnesses.1,2 These amazing substances that we call phytochemicals give vegetables and fruits their big nutritional kick!  Brightly colored vegetables and fruits contain both the most nutrients and the most phytochemicals.

Some of the phytochemicals you may have heard of include the flavonoids, found in colorful fruits such as cranberries and blueberries,3 and lycopene which is found in tomatoes. Phytochemicals can have many varied effects - some are powerful antioxidants, while others may stimulate enzyme activity or produce a positive hormonal reaction. What they all have in common however is the ability to promote health and well-being and to enhance the performance of those who regularly consume these powerful ingredients.

Why are antioxidants so important?  They protect the cells of your body from the free radicals that are a byproduct of normal metabolic activities. Eating a well-balanced diet with plenty of colorful vegetables and fruits can provide the necessary antioxidants to neutralize destructive free radicals.

If we fail to consume our daily requirement of vegetables and fruits, our antioxidant reserves eventually become depleted, leaving free radicals to damage cells and cause disease. Certain types of cancer, for example, are linked to free radical damage.

It is important to realize that vegetables, like those broccoli spears your Mom used to make you eat, are much more than meets the eye. (Or taste bud in this case.)  Broccoli is in fact a superfood which is loaded with antioxidants and cancer-fighting phytochemicals.

Carrots are another superfood with health-enhancing effects. They contain beta-carotene which is another important antioxidant. A portion of the beta-carotene you consume is converted by your body into into Vitamin A, which  can bolster your immune system and help to protect your digestive tract.

Tomatoes are another top super-vegetable. They contain abundant lycopene which is a very powerful antioxidant that is responsible for their bright red color. Lycopene offers proven health benefits in the areas of diabetes, cardiovascular disease, osteoporosis, and cancer.

Consuming vegetables each day provides tremendous benefit for people of all ages.  For optimal nutrition, make an effort to enjoy five to nine portions of vegetables and fruits each day.  The most ideal ratio would be to eat slightly more veggies than fruits, if you can.

Your Millar Chiropractic physician has had extensive training in nutrition and will be happy to assist you in designing food plans that will work for you and your entire family.

1Hayes JD, et al: The cancer chemopreventive actions of phytochemicals derived from glucosinolates. Eur J Nutr 47(Suppl 2):73-88, 2008
2Nair S, et al: Natural dietary anti-cancer chemopreventive compounds: redox-mediated differential signaling mechanisms in cytoprotection of normal cells versus cytotoxicity in tumor cells. Acta Pharmacol Sin 28(4):459-472, 2007
3Vinson JA, et al: Cranberries and cranberry products: Powerful in vitro, ex vivo, and in vivo sources of antioxidants. J Agric Food Chem June 2008 (in press)