Fruits and vegetables play a critical role in diet. Apart from offering vibrant colors, juicy crunch and tasty flavors they deliver large quantities of vitamin A, vitamin C, folic acid, vitamin B6, calcium, magnesium, and selenium. In addition they are low in fat and sodium. The nutrients found in fruits and vegetables play a role in the normal everyday functioning of your body and may help lower the risk of some cancers, coronary heart disease, and other health conditions. Fruits and veggies also provide carbohydrates and dietary fiber. If you are on weight-loss diet remember to choose the ones with low glycemic index. The following table should help you with the decision:

Name of food and corresponding number of grams of available carbohydrate (carbohydrate minus dietary fiber) in 100 grams of the portion of the food. Any fruit or vegetable with fewer than 5 grams of available carbohydrate in a 100 gram portion is essentially free of any impact on your blood sugar

Alfalfa seeds, sprouted 1.28 Parsley 3.03
Arugula 2.05 Peppers, Serrano 3.00

Asparagus, cooked 2.63

Peppers, jalapeno 3.11
Beans, green, cooked

4.69 Peppers, sweet green 4.63
Beet greens, cooked 2.56 Peppers, sweet red 4.43
Broccoli, cooked 2.16 Purslane 3.43

Cabbage, cooked 2.16 Radicchio 3.58

Cauliflower, cooked

1.41 Radishes 1.99
Celeriac, cooked 4.7

Sauerkraut 1.78
Celery 1.95 Scallions (green onions) 4.74
Chard, Swiss, cooked 2.04 Spinach, cooked 1.35
Collards, cooked 2.1 Squash, summer, cooked 2.91
Cucumber 1.8 Squash, zucchini, cooked

Eggplant, cooked
4.14 Tomatillos 3.93
Endive 0.25 Tomatoes 3.54
Fennel, bulb 4.19 Tomato juice 3.83
Jicama, raw

3.92 Turnips, cooked 2.9

Kale, cooked 3.63 Turnip greens, cooked

Lettuce, butterhead

1.32 Watercress 0.79
Lettuce, cos or romaine

0.67 FRUIT:
Lettuce, iceberg 0.69


Mustard greens, cooked 0.1

Strawberries 4.72
Mushrooms (except shitake)

2.94-3.57 NUTS:
Macadamia Nuts
Nopales, cooked

1.27 Pecans 4.26
Okra, cooked 4.71    

Hundreds of books, like the excellent Food-Your Miracle Medicine by Jean Carper, have been written over the years on the advantages of eating fruits and vegetables. Their new health benefits are discovered almost daily. Let me mention just a few of the latest findings, from the period 2002/2003 alone, not yet published in any mass-market book:

q  Black raspberries appear to be a potentially powerful agent in fight against colon cancer. Rats that were injected with a cancer-causing agent and then fed a berry-rich diet had 80 percent fewer malignant tumors compared to rats that had no berries in their diet. The researchers also compared the antioxidant activity of black raspberries to that of blueberries and strawberries, two fruits with suspected chemo-preventive effects. Black raspberries prevailed in the comparison by as much as 40 percent.

Source: Ohio State University

q  Cooking tomatoes — such as in spaghetti sauce — makes the fruit heart-healthier and boosts its cancer-fighting ability. All this, despite a loss of vitamin C during the cooking process. The reason: cooking substantially raises the levels of beneficial compounds called phytochemicals, naturally occurring substances that act as natural defense systems in plants.

Source: Cornell University

q  Using gene chip technology, researchers have identified the blueprint of genes and enzymes in the body that enable sulforaphane, a compound found in broccoli and other vegetables, to prevent cancer and remove toxins from cells.

Source: Johns Hopkins University Bloomberg School Of Public Health

q  Researchers have developed a new compound, designed from a known anticancer agent found in broccoli, that shows promise as a breast cancer preventive.

Source: American Chemical Society

q  Two new animal studies by researchers at the University of South Florida Center for Aging and Brain Repair and James A. Haley Veterans Hospital bolster a growing body of evidence that spinach, spirulina and apple-rich diets may protect the brain against the ravages of age.

Source: University Of South Florida Health Sciences Center

q  Writing in the medical journal, The Lancet, scientists from Cornell University and Seoul National University offer a more precise explanation for vitamin C’s anti-cancer activity. And they suggest that a natural chemical from apples works even better than vitamin C.

Source: Cornell University News Service

q  Mouse experiments suggest that folic acid could play an essential role in protecting the brain against the ravages of Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease and other neurodegenerative disorders. Green leafy vegetables, citrus fruits and juices, whole wheat bread and dry beans are good sources of folic acid.

Source: NIH/National Institute On Aging

q  A diet combining a handful of known cholesterol-lowering plant components cut bad cholesterol by close to 30 per cent. The reduction is similar to that achieved by some drug treatments for high cholesterol, suggesting a possible drug-free alternative for combating the condition. Scientists have known for many years that, individually, soy proteins, nuts, viscous fibers such as those found in oats and barley, and plant sterols (a substance found in vegetable oils and also in leafy green and non-starch vegetables) have the ability to reduce blood cholesterol levels by approximately four to seven per cent. However, the study found that mixing these components together in a “combination diet” reduced levels of LDL cholesterol – the so-called “bad” cholesterol believed to clog coronary arteries – by a dramatic 29 per cent.

Source: University Of Toronto

Unfortunately, even the healthiest of foods such as fruits and vegetables can, in some instances, be unhealthy.

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