Every health organization in this country recommends that we eat our fruits and vegetables every day – just like our mothers used to suggest when we were growing up. In a study of over 8,000 adults, very few were eating the recommended number of servings of fruits and vegetables – and therefore, missing protective substances called phytonutrients.
Carotenoids are a large group of phytonutrients including
- beta-carotene (lower risk for heart disease),
- lutein (protects the eyes from macular degeneration) and
- lycopene (prevent prostate cancer).
The carotenoids are found in colorful produce such as carrots, pumpkin, yams; tomatoes and watermelon; and spinach.
Flavonoids are phytonutrients that may provide anti-inflammatory protection, thus reducing our risk for developing heart disease and cancer. They’re found in grapes, bananas, blueberries, strawberries, orange juice, oranges, lemons, limes, apples, tea and onions.
Phenols are phytonutrients that may protect cell integrity, reducing risk for cancer. Phenols are prevalent in strawberries, raspberries, apples, walnuts, and pecans.
From this study, the folks who ate more fruits and vegetables had more physical activity in their day – so overall, they seem to be more concerned about their heath. And older adults, as well as women, were more likely to get in the suggested amounts of produce.