Go for colour and variety: green, yellow, orange and red!
“Eat your fruits” is one of the true recommendations for a healthy diet. And for good reason! Eating plenty of fruits can help you ward off heart disease and stroke, control blood pressure, prevent some types of cancer, avoid a painful intestinal ailment and guard against cataract and macular degeneration, two common causes of vision loss.
Fruits and Cardiovascular Disease
The largest and longest study to date, done by Harvard School of Public Health, included almost 110.000 men and women, whose health and dietary habits were followed for 14 years. The higher the average daily intake of fruits, the lower the chances of developing cardiovascular disease. Compared with those in the lowest category of fruit intake, those who averaged 8 or more servings a day were 30 percent less likely to have had a heart attack or stroke. Although all fruits likely contribute to this benefit, citrus fruits such as oranges, lemons, limes and grapefruit (and their juices) make important contributions.
Fruits and Blood Pressure
High blood pressure is a primary risk factor for heart disease and stroke. As such, it’s a condition that is important to control. Diet can be a very effective tool for lowering blood pressure. One of the most convincing associations between diet and blood pressure was found in the Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension (DASH) study.
This trial examined the effect on blood pressure of a diet that was rich in fruits and low-fat dairy products. The researchers found that people with high blood pressure who followed this diet reduced their systolic blood pressure by about 11 mm Hg and their diastolic blood pressur by almost 6 mm Hg, as much as medications can achieve.
More recently, a randomized trial known as the Optimal Macronutrient Intake Trial for Heart Health (OmniHeart) showed that this fruits rich diet lowered blood pressure even more, when some of the carbohydrate was replaced with healthy unsaturated fat or protein.
Fruits and Cancer
Numerous early studies revealed what appeared to be a strong link between eating fruits and protection against cancer. An important report issued by the World Cancer Research Fund and the American Institute for Cancer Research suggests that fruits protect against several types of cancers, including those of the mouth, throat, esophagus, stomach and also lung cancer.
Fruits and Gastrointestinal Health
One of the wonderful components of fruits is their indigestible fiber. This fiber passes through the digestive system, it sops up water like a sponge and expands. This can calm the irritable bowel and, by triggering regular bowel movements, can relieve or prevent constipation. The bulking and softening action of insoluble fiber also decreases pressure inside the intestinal tract and so may help prevent diverticulosis (the development of tiny, easily irritated pouches inside the colon) and diverticulitis (the often painful inflammation of these pouches).
Fruits and Vision
Eating plenty of fruits also keeps your eyes in good shape. You may have learned that the vitamin A aids night vision. Other fruits help prevent two common aging-related eye diseases: cataract and macular degeneration. Free radicals generated by sunlight, cigarette smoke, air pollution, infections and metabolism cause much of this damage. Two pigments, lutein and zeaxanthin, are found in brightly coloured fruits, including kiwi and grapes. These two pigments appear to be able to snuff out free radicals before they can harm the eye’s sensitive tissues.
Fruits are clearly an important part of a good diet. Almost everyone can benefit from eating more of them, but variety is as important as quantity. No single fruit provides all of the nutrients you need to be healthy. The key lies in the variety of different fruits that you eat!