Winter Eating – don’t forget your Fruit and Veg.

Vegetable Lot

Health Benefits

Fruit and Veg. come in many colours, all offer healthy benefits but often we neglect to eat enough in Winter.

Eating at least five portions a day helps reduce risk of chronic diseases and returning cancer, according to just about every agency.  Even more, a healthy diet that includes a rich selection of fruits and vegetables has proven health benefits to help ward off heart disease, high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes, kidney stones, as well as cancers of the mouth, stomach, and colon.

So which ones are best?

Experts tell us to choose a rainbow of colours. The colours in different fruits and vegetables are often conferred by the very compounds which may help fight cancer.

These can be eaten raw or cooked, but if you make smoothies, only drink one a day as part of your ration;  ‘smoothing’  destroys the fibre content, which is vital for health.

Nutrients

Fruit and Veg. contain dietary fibre, phenols, antioxidants, folic acid and vitamin C. They are also low in fat, calories, and sodium. Don’t worry about raising your cholesterol if you eat fruit—it doesn’t have any. More specifically, according to Verywell, healthy components in fruit include:

  • Dietary fibre: Fresh and dried fruits are a good source of dietary fibre. While you’re snacking on carrot sticks or that shiny apple, you’re lowering your cholesterol, reducing your risk of heart disease, and keeping your digestive system happy. If you are suffering constipation it’s worth adding a bit more fruit and veg to you diet, as these will help reduce constipation.
  • Phenols: Peel an orange or squeeze a lemon and inhale the citrus aroma—phenols are aromatic compounds that occur in essential oils of fruits. The benefits don’t stop at the great fragrance, though, because phenols have powerful antiseptic and antibacterial properties. These fragrant compounds can act as nerve stimulants and immune system stimulants.
  • Antioxidants: Antioxidants are compounds that inhibit or reduce oxidative damage caused by free radicals, thus preventing some cell damage. Antioxidants can help promote good health for your heart, brain, and eyes by slowing the natural aging process.
  • Folic acid: Folic acid, or folate, is necessary to the production of red blood cells, which carry oxygen throughout our bodies. These cells also remove waste products from your tissues.
  • Potassium: You can take potassium as a supplement, but those tablets taste vile to me! It’s more fun to eat bananas, prunes, dried peaches and apricots, cantaloupe or honeydew melon. Prune juice and orange juice are also sources of potassium. These fruits may help keep your blood pressure in the healthy range. The electrolyte action of potassium helps keep your muscles healthy by maintaining good fluid levels and assisting with your metabolism.
  • Vitamin C:  is important for all of our body tissues. Vitamin C assists with tissue growth and repair, helps heal cuts and wounds, and keeps teeth and gums healthy.

Power-packed fruits

In addition, many fruit and veg. may play a role in cancer prevention or treatment through:

  • Phenolic effects: Natural phenolic compounds have been looked at with cancer for a long time, both for their chemopreventive (cancer reduction) effects and for their chemotherapeutic (cancer treatment) effects. These compounds appear to have a direct effect on cell cycle progression, and several types of phenolic compounds have been found to inhibit the proliferation (growth) of some cancers.
  • Antioxidant activity: Since oxidative stress can cause the damage to genetic material in cells leading to the development of cancer, fruits with antioxidant activity likely play a role in reducing risk.
  • Antiproliferative effects: Many fruits appear to have antiproliferative activity (inhibiting growth) against several types of cancer cells.

Which are best?

Verywell have produced this chart with some of the more popular items listed:

Phenolic
Effects
Antioxidant Activity Antiproliferative* Power
Cranberry Cranberry Cranberry
Apple Apple Lemon
Red Grapes Red Grapes Apple
Strawberry, Blueberry, Raspberry Strawberry, Blueberry, Raspberry Strawberry, Blueberry, Raspberry
Pineapple Peach Red Grapes
Banana Lemon Banana
Peach Pear Grapefruit
Lemon Banana Peach
Orange Orange
Pear Grapefruit
Grapefruit Pineapple *preventing spread of malignant cells

Eating fruit and veg.

To get the most benefit, eat it fresh. especially as you get the benefits from fibre.

If you need something more convenient than fresh fruit, try pre-cut fruit that is packed in cans or pots without additional sugar. Dried fruits are portable and good.  Frozen fruit and veg. are also as good, but pureed and juiced fruits, particularly canned and bottled juices, have little or no fibre, although are still beneficial.

A Word From Verywell

Fruit and Veg. pack a powerful punch as both foods that may reduce your risk of breast cancer and foods which may inhibit the growth of a tumour already present. Rather than choosing specific fruits, however, as much remains to be learned, eating a wide variety in your diet is the best bet all around. (One possible exception is grapefruit as there are conflicting reports about  risks).

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