A great deal of published research shows that a diet of predominately fruits and vegetables can improve health! The negative effects of some chronic conditions such as diabetes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol and arthritis can be significantly reduced and sometimes eliminated by increasing the amount of fresh produce you consume. Besides, fresh, ripe produce has much better flavor and more nutrients than produce which has been picked green and shipped for days across the country.
April through July is the perfect time of year to take advantage of a wide variety of fresh, locally grown produce! If you can’t grow your own, there are several places in the area where you can obtain fresh produce. Numerous produce markets feature locally grown food, including St. Andrews Waterfront Farmers Market at the St. Andrews Marina and Grand Lagoon Waterfront Farmers Market are open on the weekends. The Farmers Market at the Bay County Fair Grounds and several individual vendors on street corners around the Panhandle are open during the week. In some of these markets, you can talk directly with the person who raised the food. In addition, several produce markets, such as Tanya’s Produce Market, the Farmish Market and Peacock’s Produce carry local as well as regional produce.
Generally the recommended dietary guideline is four to five servings of fruit and four to five servings of vegetables daily. A serving of fresh or frozen fruit or vegetables is considered one- half cup, although a serving of green leafy vegetables is one cup. Within those parameters, you should eat a wide variety of fruits and vegetables in all the different colors (red, orange/ yellow, green and blue/purple/black) within a week’s time. Below is a list of some of the most common produce available now and some of the reasons why these fruits and vegetables are so good for you.
Bell pepper: Both green and red are rich in Vitamin C and help fight angina, asthma, atherosclerosis, bronchitis, cancer, cataracts, macular degeneration and respiratory infections.
Blueberry: Contains antiviral and antibiotic properties, making them as good as cranberries for urinary tract infections. They are rich in anthocyanins, the dark coloring, which reduces the risk of heart disease and strokes. Antioxidant properties help protect against cancer. Help improve memory and balance.
Blackberry: Rich in antioxidants, particularly anthocyanins. Help improve eyesight in macular degeneration and diabetic retinopathy. Strengthens varicose veins and relieves hemorrhoids.
Broccoli: A cruciferous vegetable loaded with antioxidants, which have positive effects against some cancers, such as breast, cervix, bladder, colon and lung cancers. High fiber content helps reduce cholesterol. High chromium content helps lower blood sugar by making insulin more efficient. Also high in calcium. Helps kill H. pylori, the stomach ulcer-causing bacteria.
Cantaloupe: Contains lots of beta-carotene that helps protect against cancer, heart attack, stroke, and cataracts. Also contains anticoagulant properties. High in potassium which improves bone health.
Carrot: High in the carotenoids, including alpha- and beta-carotenes, lutein and zeaxanthin, and Vitamin A, all of which combat eye diseases, such as macular degeneration and cataracts, as well as angina. High in fiber and calcium.
Corn: Rich in antioxidants, fiber, Vitamin B-complex. Contains antiviral, anti-cancerous and anti-aging properties. Yellow corn contains lots of carotenoids.
Cucumber: High in fiber and Vitamin K, which helps build bone. Helps prevent Alzheimer’s disease by limiting nerve damage. Contains carotenoids and Vitamin C.
Eggplant: High in fiber and B vitamins. Contains antibacterial, anti-cancerous and diuretic properties. Lowers blood cholesterol. Anthocyanins in the skin of the eggplant help protect brain cells.
Fig: Abundant in Vitamins A, E, and K, minerals and antioxidants. Possesses laxative, anti-ulcer, anti- bacterial and anti-parasitic effects. Helps prevent cancer and shrinks existing tumors. High in fiber and calcium.
Garlic: Loaded with antioxidants, particularly allicin, which boosts the immune system against a host of bacteria and decreases the incidence of cancer. Protects arteries and reduces blood pressure, blood cholesterol and blood sugar.
Green Bean: High in fiber, Vitamin A, carotenoids, folic acid, Vitamin B-complex. Contains healthy amounts of minerals, especially iron.
Green pea: Rich in antioxidants. High in folic acid, Vitamins A, C, K, B-complex and fiber. Edible pod peas contain even higher amounts of fiber and Vitamin C.
Hot Pepper: Contains the antioxidants carotenoids, Vitamins C and E. The active ingredient, capsaicin, helps relieve pain in joints, kills cancer cells and makes insulin more effective. Decongestant, anti-coagulant, anti-inflammatory properties. Increases metabolism, but lowers blood sugar, blood cholesterol and blood pressure. Increases the release of endorphins, which are natural pain killers, and have a soothing effect on the brain. Relieves varicose veins by strengthening vein walls.
Lettuce: All leaf lettuce, both red and green, are high in carotenoids and fiber.
Okra: Rich in fiber, Vitamin A, carotenoids, folic acid, Vitamins C, B and K. A good source of iron, manganese, calcium and magnesium.
Onion: Abundant in antioxidants, particularly allicin and quercetin, and anti-cancerous agents, especially against stomach cancer. Helps thin blood, raise HDL cholesterol, and fight off asthma, bronchitis, diabetes, hay fever and atherosclerosis. Contains antibiotic, antiviral and anti-inflammatory properties.
Potato: High in potassium which balances fluids and provides energy to muscles, thus helping reduce blood pressure and stroke risk. High in fiber when eaten with skins. Contains anti-cancerous properties.
Fresh red potatoes have a lower glycemic index than baking potatoes.
Radish: High in Vitamin C and contains indoles (detoxifying agents), beta carotene, lutein and zeaxanthin. Contains several B vitamins and trace minerals.
Spinach: A super source of cancer antagonists and antioxidants. Rich in beta carotene and lutein for eye health. Lutein also decreases clogged arteries and cancer risk, while increasing lung health. High in fiber, which helps lower cholesterol. Magnesium content improves bones, blood pressure, insulin usage, sleep and tense muscles. Helps prevent memory loss. The folic acid in it helps decrease depression.
Squash: Abundant in antioxidants, high in Vitamin C, carotenoids, potassium, magnesium, manganese, folic acid, fiber, riboflavin, copper and phosphorus.
Strawberry: Rich in antioxidant, antiviral, anti- cancerous compounds and fiber. High Vitamin C content which helps increase iron absorption.
Tomato: High in the antioxidant lycopene, which helps prevent heart disease, prostate cancer and damage to skin from sun and aging. Contains anti- cancerous compounds. High in chromium.
Watermelon: Abundant in lycopene, and other antioxidants. Helps improve urinary tract resistance to infections. High in potassium. Mild anti- coagulant and antibacterial properties.
Winter squash: These include any hard-skinned squash and are loaded with carotenoids.
Zucchini: Contains similar properties as squash. Also high in potassium, Vitamin C and several B vitamins.
The old saying, “Laughter is the best medicine,” might need to be revised to include fruits and vegetables!
[box type="shadow" align="aligncenter" ]Sources:
Carper, Jean. Food, Your Miracle Medicine, Harper Collins Publishers, 1993.
Carper, Jean. Your Miracle Brain, Harper Collins Publishers, 2000.
Castleman, Michael. The New Healing Herbs, Bantam Books, 2002. Corn, www.nutrition-and-you.com/sweet-corn.html Cucumbers, www.nutrition-and-you.com/cucumbers.html Dietary guidelines, www.health.gov/dietaryguidelines.html Eggplant, www.wholefoods.com/eggplant.html Green beans, www.nutrition-and-you.com/green_beans.html Green peas, www.nutrition-and-you.com/green-peas.html
Harder, B. “Eat Broccoli, Beat Bacteria,” Science News, June 3, 2002.
Heinerman, John. Heinerman’s Encyclopedia of Fruits, Vegetables and Herbs, Parker Publishing, 1988.
Mix, Linda. Herbs for Life! Understand, Use and Grow Your Own Medicinal Herbs, 2011. Okra, www.nutrition-and-you.com/okra.html Radish, www.nutrition-and-you.com/radish.html
Seppa, Nathan. “Hot pepper ingredient slows cancer in mice,” Science News, April 22, 2006. Snap peas, www.nutrition-and-you.com/snap-peas.html Yellow squash, www.healthdiaries.com/eatthis/8-health-benefits- of-yellow-squash.html Zucchini, www.nutrition-and-you.com/zucchini.html
[email protected] or www.MedicinalHerbsForLife.com [/box]
By Linda Mix Author of Herbs for Life!
Tagged: , Food , nutrition