(NaturalHealth365) When it comes to the health benefits of fruits and vegetables, we all sense that “more is better.” However, new research is confirming that we should be eating double the current recommended dietary guidelines in order to reap the benefits of antioxidants. Higher amounts also increase the body’s ability to fight and prevent disease.
Scientists from the Imperial College in London looked at 95 previous studies of fruit and vegetable intake. They found that the highest health benefits of antioxidants and vitamins from fruits and vegetables came from eating 10 portions a day.
Fruits and vegetables help prevent disease related to cardiovascular health, stroke and cancer
The meta-analysis looked at all of the current available research on fruit and vegetable intake worldwide. A total of 2 million people were assessed related to 81,000 cases of cardiovascular disease, 43,000 cases of heart disease, 112,000 cancer cases, 47,000 cases of stroke, and 94,000 premature deaths.
The risk for a range of health problems and illnesses was found to be reduced by a 10-per-day intake of fruits and vegetables in all of these areas. While any amount of fruits and vegetables can help to prevent disease, the researchers found 800 g per day (or 10 – 80g portions) was optimal.
As a result of the study, the research team estimates that around 7.8 million premature deaths could potentially be prevented worldwide each year by eating 10 portions of fruits and vegetables per day. The study results were published in the International Journal of Epidemiology.
Fruits and vegetables bring protective benefits of antioxidants and cancer-fighting enzymes
Eating 10 portions of fruits and vegetables per day was associated with a 28 percent reduced risk of cardiovascular disease, 13 per cent reduced risk of cancer, 24 percent lower risk of heart disease, 33 percent reduced risk of stroke, and a 31 percent reduced chance of dying prematurely.
How do fruits and vegetables prevent disease? They do so through the benefits of antioxidants. Many fruits and vegetables are loaded with them, and they help to prevent DNA damage and prevent disease. They also naturally reduce (unwanted) excessive amounts of cholesterol and high blood pressure – while boosting immune functioning and blood vessel health.
Cruciferous vegetables contain compounds called glucosinolates, which are known for activating cancer-fighting enzymes. Fruit and vegetables also stimulate the growth of healthy, naturally-occurring gut bacteria, which further supports the immune system.
Find ways to eat fruit and vegetables at every meal
An 80 g portion equals approximately a small apple, banana, pear or orange. Three heaped tablespoons of broccoli, spinach, cauliflower, peas or other cooked vegetables also equal an 80 g portion.
The researchers found that some of the most effective fruits that support health are apples, pears and citrus fruits. The most health-supporting vegetables were cruciferous types like broccoli, cauliflower and cabbage, as well as green leafy vegetables such as spinach, chicory and lettuce.
Green and yellow vegetables seemed to bring the greatest benefits of antioxidants to help fight and prevent cancer. The most effective included spinach, green beans, yellow bell peppers, carrots and cruciferous vegetables.
So, that advice Mom gave you is correct: eat your fruits and vegetables! And, of course, be sure to buy organic, locally grown produce – as much as possible.
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