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Which fruits and vegetables are the most beneficial?

Fruits And Vegetables

Susan Silberstein & Marilyn Joyce (Health and Nutrition Educator & Heath Counselor) gives expert video advice on: Which fruits and vegetables are the most beneficial?; Why are fruits and vegetables so important in my diet?; Are frozen or canned fruits and vegetables healthy? and more...

Which fruits and vegetables are the most beneficial?

The fruits and vegetables that are the most beneficial are the ones with the deepest colours; the darkest richest greens, the darkest richest reds, oranges, purples, even yellows if it's a rich yellow. The deeper the colour, the higher the foods are in antioxidants, which are vital chemicals that are protective against disease, so it's looking for colour. Now, with that said, one of the more nutritional foods on the planet is cauliflower and it's white. So, it's understanding that you can also get good nutrition from some of the white vegetables, but knowing which ones are the highest in nutrients. A potato compared to cauliflower; there is no comparison. Cauliflower is by far more nutritious

How many fruits and vegetables should I eat a day?

The original guidelines for fruit and vegetable intake from the US Department of Agriculture was five fruits and vegetables a day. And so the National Cancer Institute and the American Cancer Society endorsed that five a day campaign. Interestingly, the new guidelines from the US Department of Agriculture are 10 to 13 fist-sized servings of fruits and vegetables a day.

Why are fruits and vegetables so important in my diet?

Fruits and vegetables are important to our health for many reasons; certainly because they contain fibre in the whole food, and they contain phytonutrients, which are plant based nutrients in the numbers of 20,000 or more, all of which work together to ensure our health. One of the big classes of phytonutrients is the carotenes. We've heard of beta-carotene, but there are hundreds, in fact 600 different carotenes, and they all contribute to our health. Alpha-carotene, lycopene, and a number of the other carotenes are what give our fruits and vegetables their colours. Not only orange as in carrots, but also yellow, green, purple, and red. They can protect us against cancer, heart disease, diabetes, arthritis, and pretty much all of the chronic diseases that we can name. The carotenes are valuable for two basic reasons. First of all, they can dramatically enhance our immune responses and defences against disease, and secondly, because they provide what we call bioavailable antioxidants. Not the kind of antioxidants we find in fractionated vitamins like vitamins A, and C, and E, but the kind that we find in whole foods, which neutralise those dangerous free radicals that damage our cellular DNA with 10s of 1000s of hits a day, and contribute to the aging and disease process of every cell in our body.

What is "juicing"?

Juicing is an official term by which we take a fruit or preferably a vegetable, and we put it through a machine that extracts the nutrients from the plant into the juice, and separates the juice from the fibre, which is the non nutritive part. Juicing is very, very important, especially for people who need to regain their health, because the phytonutrients (natural plant chemicals that are in the juice), the enzymes, the minerals, and the alkalinity in the juice will go right into the bloodstream within 18 minutes. This is extremely healing. If we have the vegetable with fibre; we certainly know that fibre is important, but the absorption is going to be much less efficient. We can't begin to get the kind of quantity of concentrated nutrients that we can get in the juice, and we have to burden the digestive system with the effort to separate the juice from the fibre.

Are frozen or canned fruits and vegetables healthy?

Canned and frozen vegetables will never be as good for us as fresh fruits and vegetables. Canned vegetables or fruits often contain corn syrup or added sugar or added salt and they are really cooked to death. Frozen vegetables and fruits very often contain a lot of important nutrition. But the idea is that we don't want to cook the frozen vegetable to death. We also want to lightly steam that vegetable so the nutritional value is preserved.

What is the healthiest way to prepare vegetables?

The best way to prepare vegetables is to either have them raw or sprouted, which you can buy in many grocery stores, or lightly steamed in a steamer basket so that the vegetable does not hit the water, and steam it for a couple of minutes just so that it is firm and not mushy.

What are the health benefits of mushrooms?

They are, after all, a fungus. So you know we have to think in terms of how valuable are fungus-type foods in our diet. And, overall, the white mushroom is not that nutritious. There's a little bit of nutritional value but nothing very much to speak of. Now when you move into the cremini mushroom—the brown mushroom—there's more value. There's a deeper color. And as we know from any research on phytochemicals, that there's more phytochemicals, or plant chemicals, inherent in colored food, generally speaking, than there is in white, plain food. So that's one step up. But the difference is really significant when we start talking about maitake and shitake mushrooms. In these particular mushrooms they've found in research—a lot of research—that there are beneficial extracts from those mushrooms that have actually been shown to reduce tumor growth and tumor development in general in individuals who are experiencing a cancerous tumor. So there have been benefits shown with respect to cancer. There's research going on regarding heart disease and how these mushroom extracts might affect that. There's been very positive results so far. I expect that we're going to find down the road that these extracts are very valuable in general for most degenerative illnesses. That's what we're beginning to see in what's going on in the research right now.