Everyone has heard that it is important to eat fruits and vegetables every single day. Some of us do follow our doctor’s advice and eat the minimum recommended daily servings. There is some data to suggest that consuming increased amounts can provide even greater health benefits. However, be very careful! Too much of anything is usually not a good thing.
The value of fruits and vegetables goes beyond that of the vitamins and minerals they contain. The discovery of a class of micronutrients (phytonutrients) is largely why major health agencies recommend a minimum of five different fruits and vegetables daily. Phytonutrients are not essential for life, but they appear to be essential for OPTIMAL HEALTH and LONGEVITY. The Chicago Center for Anti-Aging strongly recommends the daily use of phytonutrients but not at supranormal dosages.
Phytochemicals are compounds that exist naturally in plants to protect them from the sunlight and affect human beings and other mammals in a number of beneficial ways. The more Phytochemicals you add to your diet, the greater the degree of health protection you can enjoy. People who eat large quantities of fruits and vegetables help reduced risks of all kinds of cancer. A regular, lifelong diet of phytochemicals plays an important role in health and wellness.
When it comes to fighting cancer, cruciferous vegetables may be the real champs. These plant micronutrients work by speeding up the production of enzymes, especially in the liver. These enzymes help our bodies convert toxic, mutagenic (cancer causing) chemicals into less harmful substances that are naturally flushed out of the body. Studies have consistently shown that cruciferous vegetables substantially lowered the risk of prostate cancer in men. Some studies also suggest a protective role in cervical, uterine and breast cancers in women.
It is important to know which fruits and vegetables contain these important phytochemicals. The National Cancer Institute recognizes the following twelve (12) fruits and vegetables as important for their phytonutrient content: pineapple, papaya, turnips, carrots, tomatoes, cauliflower, cabbage, kale, Brussels sprouts, broccoli, garlic, and onions.
Phytochemicals concentrated or prepared in such a way as to likely have therapeutic effects are generally referred to as “nutraceuticals”. According to one source, twenty heads of cabbage, juiced and dehydrated, will fit into one capsule of cabbage powder.
It is difficult for most adults to eat a consistent variety of all twelve fruits and vegetables on a daily basis. What about your children? Every parent knows how difficult it can be to get children to eat the right foods that support healthy growth. This daily requirement becomes especially difficult when they are younger. Emphasis on making sure they snack on nutritious foods, instead of high calorie sweets and other “junk” foods, are something that should be stressed from a young age.
Remember, phytonutrients are important for you and your family.