6 Reasons to Eat Your
Vegetables By Jude Buglewicz
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If you're like most Americans, you're
probably eating only three servings of fruits and vegetables a day, if that.
Big mistake. Research shows that the more veggies you consume daily, the better
off you'll be, in terms of overall health and body weight. Aim for five to nine
or even 13 servings of fruits and vegetables a day. Here are six reasons
- Helps you lose
weight. Since fruits and vegetables have a lot of
fiber, the more of them you eat, the fuller you feel. The beauty is that
they're low in calories, so you wind up satisfying your appetite without
exceeding your daily calorie allotment. Recent studies show that increasing
your fiber intake by as little as 14 grams a day can result in weight loss of
just over 4 pounds in 4 months. It's the fiber in the fruits and veggies that
does it, which is why it's better to eat the whole carrot or apple than to
drink carrot or apple juice. (See Steve Edwards' "The Whole Fruit and Nothing
but the Fruit" in Related Articles below.)
- Fights cancer. In a comprehensive
review of the best research on fruits, vegetables, and cancer by an agency for
the World Health Organization, the authors concluded that eating more
vegetables "probably lowers the risk of cancers of the esophagus and
colon-rectum" and "possibly reduces the risk of cancers of the mouth, pharynx,
stomach, larynx, lung, ovary, and kidney." Cooking certain veggies increases
the body's ability to absorb cancer-fighting antioxidantsespecially
carotenoids (found in carrots). In fact, your body can absorb up to five times
more carotenoids from cooked and mashed carrots than it can from raw carrots,
according to a study led by Dr. Sue Southon of the Institute of Food Research
- Promotes heart health. A 14-year-long
Harvard study of nurses and other health professionals found that the more
fruits and vegetables a person ate daily, the lower that person's chances were
of developing heart-related health problems like heart attack and stroke.
People who ate more than eight servings of fruits and vegetables a day were 30
percent less likely to have cardiovascular problems. For every extra fruit or
vegetable serving a person ate each day, that person's heart disease risk
dropped by 4 percent.
- Lowers cholesterol. According to a
study by the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute, people who ate more
than four servings of fruits and vegetables a day had much lower levels of LDL
or "bad" cholesterol than those who ate fewer servings.
- Reduces bowel
problems. The fiber in fruits and vegetables relieves
constipation and helps prevent diverticulosis and colon disease.
- Improves vision. Eating your
vegetables may help prevent vision problems associated with aging. The
antioxidants in veggies (particularly dark-green leafy ones) fight damage from
free radicals that harm the eyes and can lead to the development of cataracts
(clouding of the eye's lens) and macular degeneration (damage to the center of
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