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Friday, September 5, 2014

Ten Reasons To Eat More Veggies And Fruits

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Medical Tribune
The American Institute for Cancer Research, Washington, D.C., has compiled a list of "ten good reasons" to eat more vegetables and fruits. Topping the list is cancer prevention.

A report by AICR researchers on diet's role in the prevention of cancer estimates that eating at least five servings of vegetables and fruits each day could prevent up to 20 percent of all cancers.

Vegetables and fruits are rich in naturally occurring antioxidants - substances shown to provide protection against free-radicals (reactive substances that damage cells and initiate cancer) - and other phytochemicals that help to detoxify cancer-causing substances.

Number 2 on AICR's top ten list is to keep trim. Many vegetables contain 50 calories or fewer for a whole cup, while only five potato chips or one small cookie has the same number of calories. If you satisfy your appetite with hearty servings of vegetables and fruits, hunger won't be a problem and you will eat smaller portions of higher-calorie meats and desserts.

Prevent heart disease is number 3. Eating more vegetables and fruits - while cutting back on meat and dairy - can help you limit heart-damaging saturated fat and cholesterol in your diet. The antioxidants and certain other phytochemicals in these foods also help prevent fatty deposits from forming in blood vessels. Vegetables and fruits supply soluble fiber, which helps lower blood cholesterol. They also provide folate, a B vitamin that helps lower blood levels of homocysteine, high levels of which are a risk factor for heart disease.

Benefit number 4 of veggies and fruits is they lower blood pressure levels. Many people think blood pressure can be controlled only through eating a low-salt diet and controlling weight. Yet several studies in which people followed a high vegetable and fruit diet achieved a significant drop in blood pressure. How? Researchers believe potassium and magnesium in these foods should be credited.

Prevent stroke is number 5. Results of recent studies suggest that diets high in vegetables and fruits can decrease the risk of stroke by up to 25 percent. The boost in potassium they provide may be responsible, as well as the antioxidants and other phytochemicals they contain.

Eye protection is number 6. Eating more vegetables and fruits may lower your risk for two of the most common causes of adult blindness: cataracts (which occur in almost half of all Americans over the age of 75) and macular degeneration. Scientists link this protection for the eyes with antioxidants like vitamin C and certain carotenoids.

Next is to avoid diverticulosis. One-third of people over the age of 50 and two-thirds of those over the age of 80 are estimated to have this intestinal disorder. Diverticulosis occurs when pressure in the intestine creates small pouches in the intestine wall, which can become inflamed and painful. The best defense against developing these pouches (diverticulae) is eating a high-fiber diet. Fruits, and especially vegetables, are major sources of the type of fiber considered to be most helpful.

Fruits and vegetables help avoid diabetes. Fruits and vegetables seem to raise blood sugar less than other foods that contain carbohydrates, and their fiber content slows the absorption of sugar into the blood. A gradual rise in blood sugar is more easily handled by the body than an abrupt rise.

Fruits and vegetables can also satisfy your sweet tooth. When you turn to fruit for a sweet taste and quick energy, you get an added boost - nutrition that works for you - instead of just "empty calories" found in sweets like candy bars and soft drinks.

Finally, "experience pure pleasure." Adding the vibrant colors of vegetables and fruits - the reds, oranges, purples, greens and yellows - can make any dish more visually appealing. Also, the diversity of textures and tastes of these foods will add interest and flavor to many meals. Experiment with new ways to prepare and season vegetables and fruits - and experience pure pleasure!

Copyright  Medical PressCorps News Service. All rights reserved.


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