Why Fruits and Vegetables Are Vital

Eating a diet rich in fruits and vegetables is important for good health. Find out why experts say Mother Nature's bounty packs better nutrients than supplements.

If we are what we eat, then many of us must be tripping all over the place due to a lack of balance. That's because the average American eats about three servings of fruits and vegetables per day — a stark contrast to the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) and the U.S. Department of Agriculture's (USDA) new guidelines stating that we should be eating 5 to 13 servings of nature's best, depending on the number of calories you need.

So if we want to grow to be strong like Popeye, why can't we just down some supplements instead of devouring a pile of spinach?

Nutrients in fresh fruits and vegetables work together. Kristine Wallerius Cuthrell, MPH, RD, a research nutritionist and senior project coordinator for Hawaii Foods at the Center on the Family at University of Hawaii at Manoa, says that in the past five to 10 years, many large research studies have found that vitamin supplements don't provide the benefits that foods do. The 2005 Dietary Guidelines for Americans, created jointly between HHS and USDA and reviewed every five years, say that foods are the best sources of nutrients because they contain naturally occurring ingredients, like carotenoids and flavonoids.

"In addition to the substances we are aware of, there are many present in fruits and vegetables that have yet to be discovered. Food and the nutrients they contain aren't consumed singly, but with each other. As such, they may act in synergistic ways to promote health," Cuthrell says. For instance, eating iron-rich plants, like spinach, with an iron-absorbing enhancer, like the vitamin C in orange juice, is great for people who don’t get enough iron (typically young women).

Fruits and vegetables may prevent many illnesses. Eating fruits and vegetables may reduce your risk of cardiovascular diseases, stroke, type 2 diabetes, and even some forms of cancer. The Nurses' Health Study and Health Professionals Follow-up Study examined nearly 110,000 people over the course of 14 years. Part of the study revealed that the more fruits and vegetables people ate daily, the less chance they would develop cardiovascular diseases.

The relationship between fruits and vegetables and cancer prevention has been more difficult to prove. However, recent studies show that some types of produce are associated with lower rates of some types of cancer. For example, the World Cancer Research Fund and the American Institute for Cancer Research suggest that mouth, stomach, and colorectal cancers are less likely with high intakes of non-starchy foods like leafy greens, broccoli, and cabbage. Though studies have been mixed, lycopene, a carotenoid that gives tomatoes their red color, may help stave off prostate cancer.

Fruits and vegetables are great for watching your weight. They’re low in fat and calories, and loaded with fiber and water, which create a feeling of fullness. This is particularly helpful for dieters who want more filling calories. Plus, that fiber helps keep you “regular.”

Fruits and Vegetables: Get Your Fill

When adding fruits and vegetables to your diet, remember that variety is the spice of life. It's important to eat produce of various colors because each fruit or vegetable offers a different nutrient — think of it as nutritional cross-training. Trying new foods can be exciting, and be sure to sample every color in the produce rainbow.

The right number of servings of fruits and vegetables for you all depends on your daily caloric intake needs. A good way to find out how many servings you should be eating is by using the CDC's online serving calculator. Or make things even simpler by eating a fruit or vegetable at every meal and snack.

Don't let season, accessibility, or cost affect your fruit- and vegetable-friendly diet. If finding fresh produce is difficult, choose frozen, canned (low-sodium), or dried varieties. Also, 100 percent juice counts toward your servings, though it doesn't offer the full fiber of whole fruit.

The power of prevention may lie in a salad bowl or a plate of fruit. When we take advantage of produce, our bodies return the favor by reducing our risk of developing various illnesses.

By: Melanie Winderlich

Original Article: http://www.everydayhealth.com/diet-nutrition/101/nutrition-basics/fruits-and-vegetables.aspx

More Nutritional Health...

Eating a diet rich in fruits and vegetables is important for good health. Find out why experts say Mother Nature's bounty packs better nutrients than supplements.

If we are what we eat, then many of us must be tripping all over the place due to a lack of balance. That's because the average American eats about three servings of fruits and vegetables per day — a stark contrast to the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) and the U.S. Department of Agriculture's (USDA) new guidelines stating that we should be eating 5 to 13 servings of nature's best, depending on the number of calories you need.

So if we want to grow to be strong like Popeye, why can't we just down some supplements instead of devouring a pile of spinach?

Nutrients in fresh fruits and vegetables work together. Kristine Wallerius Cuthrell, MPH, RD, a research nutritionist and senior project coordinator for Hawaii Foods at the Center on the Family at University of Hawaii at Manoa, says that in the past five to 10 years, many large research studies have found that vitamin supplements don't provide the benefits that foods do. The 2005 Dietary Guidelines for Americans, created jointly between HHS and USDA and reviewed every five years, say that foods are the best sources of nutrients because they contain naturally occurring ingredients, like carotenoids and flavonoids.

"In addition to the substances we are aware of, there are many present in fruits and vegetables that have yet to be discovered. Food and the nutrients they contain aren't consumed singly, but with each other. As such, they may act in synergistic ways to promote health," Cuthrell says. For instance, eating iron-rich plants, like spinach, with an iron-absorbing enhancer, like the vitamin C in orange juice, is great for people who don’t get enough iron (typically young women).

Fruits and vegetables may prevent many illnesses. Eating fruits and vegetables may reduce your risk of cardiovascular diseases, stroke, type 2 diabetes, and even some forms of cancer. The Nurses' Health Study and Health Professionals Follow-up Study examined nearly 110,000 people over the course of 14 years. Part of the study revealed that the more fruits and vegetables people ate daily, the less chance they would develop cardiovascular diseases.

The relationship between fruits and vegetables and cancer prevention has been more difficult to prove. However, recent studies show that some types of produce are associated with lower rates of some types of cancer. For example, the World Cancer Research Fund and the American Institute for Cancer Research suggest that mouth, stomach, and colorectal cancers are less likely with high intakes of non-starchy foods like leafy greens, broccoli, and cabbage. Though studies have been mixed, lycopene, a carotenoid that gives tomatoes their red color, may help stave off prostate cancer.

Fruits and vegetables are great for watching your weight. They’re low in fat and calories, and loaded with fiber and water, which create a feeling of fullness. This is particularly helpful for dieters who want more filling calories. Plus, that fiber helps keep you “regular.”

Fruits and Vegetables: Get Your Fill

When adding fruits and vegetables to your diet, remember that variety is the spice of life. It's important to eat produce of various colors because each fruit or vegetable offers a different nutrient — think of it as nutritional cross-training. Trying new foods can be exciting, and be sure to sample every color in the produce rainbow.

The right number of servings of fruits and vegetables for you all depends on your daily caloric intake needs. A good way to find out how many servings you should be eating is by using the CDC's online serving calculator. Or make things even simpler by eating a fruit or vegetable at every meal and snack.

Don't let season, accessibility, or cost affect your fruit- and vegetable-friendly diet. If finding fresh produce is difficult, choose frozen, canned (low-sodium), or dried varieties. Also, 100 percent juice counts toward your servings, though it doesn't offer the full fiber of whole fruit.

The power of prevention may lie in a salad bowl or a plate of fruit. When we take advantage of produce, our bodies return the favor by reducing our risk of developing various illnesses.

By: Melanie Winderlich

Original Article: http://www.everydayhealth.com/diet-nutrition/101/nutrition-basics/fruits-and-vegetables.aspx

If you want to boost your heart health, start by changing what’s on your plate. Making simple tweaks could have big benefits.
  • Believe the hype. You've heard a lot about eating heart-healthy, but does it really matter? Yes. One study of more than 42,000 healthy women found that those who ate a healthy diet -- with an emphasis on vegetables, lean meats, grains, and low-fat dairy -- were 31% less likely to die in the next 6 years than women with unhealthy diets.
  • Don't diet. A crash diet may work if you're trying to fit into a dress by next month. But if you're trying to improve your heart health, cycling through different fad diets won't help. Diets that demonize one type of food -- whether it's carbs or fat -- don't work either. Instead, take a sensible approach. Focus on lean meats, vegetables, and whole grains to get long-term benefits for your heart and your waistline.   
  • Don't gorge yourself. Obviously, overeating will cause you to gain weight. That's not all. Studies have found that more people have heart attacks after big meals.
  • Sea salt is still salt. Most Americans think sea salt is a low-sodium alternative to regular table salt. Wrong. It has the same amount of sodium. Any type of salt increases your blood pressure. You probably need to eat less salt; most people do. The guideline is no more than a teaspoon a day. If you already have high blood pressure, you should eat even less. And, it doesn’t just come from the salt shaker. Up to 75% of the salt you consume comes from processed foods such as soups and frozen meals. If your food comes in a can or a box, check the sodium content. 
  • Avoid caffeine. If you have atrial fibrillation, caffeine and other stimulants can trigger symptoms.
  • A little wine may be good, but a lot is not. Yes, studies show that drinking modest amounts of alcohol -- not just wine -- has heart benefits. But don't assume that if a glass is good, a jug must be better. Excess alcohol -- more than one drink a day for women or two for men -- increases your risk for heart problems. It drives up blood pressure and can trigger irregular heartbeats in people with atrial fibrillation.
  • Choose meats wisely. Red meat is usually high in saturated fat, which is bad for your heart. That doesn't mean you have to banish meat from your diet. Just be savvy. Choose the leanest cuts and always cut off the fat. Look for cuts such as sirloin, flank, rump roast, and tenderloin. Or, choose pork tenderloin, turkey or chicken breast, as an alternative.
  • Add more fish to your diet. You probably know that fish is good for you -- but not all fish is equal. Deep-fried cod doesn't count. Instead, grill or roast fish that is high in healthy omega-3 fatty acids, such as salmon, tuna, trout, and sardines.
  • Eat whole grains. What's so special about whole grains? They help control your blood sugar, reducing your risk of diabetes by 20% to 30%. People who eat a lot of whole grains tend to weigh less, too. Go for whole-wheat breads, brown rice, wild rice, oatmeal, cornmeal, barley, and rye.
  • Eat less deli. Think that a smoked turkey sandwich is a healthier choice than a burger? Don't be so sure. Deli meats are often packed with salts, nitrates, and preservatives that can be bad for your heart. Instead, go for whole chicken breasts or in-house roasted turkey.
  • Eat less when eating out. Experts say we're eating too many calories. Restaurant portion sizes may have a lot to do with it. According to the CDC, the amount of food in one average restaurant meal today is like four average restaurant meals from the 1950s. Studies have also found that the bigger the portion served, the more we'll eat. The solution? Get in the habit of only eating half of what's on your plate. You can take the rest home.
  • Fill up on fiber. Fiber absorbs fat during digestion and reduces swelling in your arteries. It also helps with weight control because it makes you feel full faster -- and improves your digestive health. What's not to like? Fruit, vegetables, nuts, and beans are all good sources of fiber.
  • Note: If you have atrial fibrillation or another condition treated with an anticoagulant like Coumadin (warfarin), be on the alert for vegetables with vitamin K. This vitamin can reduce the drug's effectiveness. Veggies with vitamin K include Brussels sprouts, cabbage, collard greens, kale, mustard greens, spinach, and turnip greens. If you eat these foods, keep the amount you eat about the same from day to day. If you want to add any of these foods to your diet, talk to your doctor first. You may be able to introduce small amounts slowly.

The good news is that these actions help everyone -- whether you're trying to prevent heart problems in the future, are already living with high blood pressure or high cholesterol, or have a problem like atrial fibrillation, which often results from a diet-related heart problem.

The best news is: It's never too early -- or too late -- to improve your diet and heart health.

Article by: WebMD Medical Reference

Reviewed by James Beckerman, MD, FACC on August 02, 2012

Original Source: http://www.webmd.com/heart-disease/atrial-fibrillation/afib-12/heart-diet?page=2

 

More than 90 percent of women use at least one medicine during pregnancy.  To learn about taking medicine during pregnancy, about half of women ages 18 to 44 years old look for health information on the internet.  A new study shows that while many internet websites post lists of medicines that are safe to take during pregnancy, for many of the medicines listed, there is not enough known to determine their safety or risk for use during pregnancy.  Remember, if you are pregnant or planning to become pregnant:

  • Talk to your doctor about any medications you are taking or thinking about taking. This includes prescription and over-the-counter medicines, as well as dietary or herbal supplements.
  • Don’t stop or start taking any type of medicine that you need without first talking with a health care provider.
  • Check with your health care provider about the information that you find online. A conversation with your health care provider can help ensure that you are taking only what is necessary.

Learn more about medication use during pregnancy, and visit the CDC’s Medications and Pregnancy webpage.

By: Center of Disease Control and Prevention

Original Article: http://www.cdc.gov/media/dpk/2013/dpk-safe-meds.html

If you want to boost your heart health, start by changing what’s on your plate. Making simple tweaks could have big benefits.

  • Believe the hype. You've heard a lot about eating heart-healthy, but does it really matter? Yes. One study of more than 42,000 healthy women found that those who ate a healthy diet -- with an emphasis on vegetables, lean meats, grains, and low-fat dairy -- were 31% less likely to die in the next 6 years than women with unhealthy diets.
  • Don't diet. A crash diet may work if you're trying to fit into a dress by next month. But if you're trying to improve your heart health, cycling through different fad diets won't help. Diets that demonize one type of food -- whether it's carbs or fat -- don't work either. Instead, take a sensible approach. Focus on lean meats, vegetables, and whole grains to get long-term benefits for your heart and your waistline.   
  • Don't gorge yourself. Obviously, overeating will cause you to gain weight. That's not all. Studies have found that more people have heart attacks after big meals.
  • Sea salt is still salt. Most Americans think sea salt is a low-sodium alternative to regular table salt. Wrong. It has the same amount of sodium. Any type of salt increases your blood pressure. You probably need to eat less salt; most people do. The guideline is no more than a teaspoon a day. If you already have high blood pressure, you should eat even less. And, it doesn’t just come from the salt shaker. Up to 75% of the salt you consume comes from processed foods such as soups and frozen meals. If your food comes in a can or a box, check the sodium content. 
  • Avoid caffeine. If you have atrial fibrillation, caffeine and other stimulants can trigger symptoms.
  • A little wine may be good, but a lot is not. Yes, studies show that drinking modest amounts of alcohol -- not just wine -- has heart benefits. But don't assume that if a glass is good, a jug must be better. Excess alcohol -- more than one drink a day for women or two for men -- increases your risk for heart problems. It drives up blood pressure and can trigger irregular heartbeats in people with atrial fibrillation.
  • Choose meats wisely. Red meat is usually high in saturated fat, which is bad for your heart. That doesn't mean you have to banish meat from your diet. Just be savvy. Choose the leanest cuts and always cut off the fat. Look for cuts such as sirloin, flank, rump roast, and tenderloin. Or, choose pork tenderloin, turkey or chicken breast, as an alternative.
  • Add more fish to your diet. You probably know that fish is good for you -- but not all fish is equal. Deep-fried cod doesn't count. Instead, grill or roast fish that is high in healthy omega-3 fatty acids, such as salmon, tuna, trout, and sardines.
  • Eat whole grains. What's so special about whole grains? They help control your blood sugar, reducing your risk of diabetes by 20% to 30%. People who eat a lot of whole grains tend to weigh less, too. Go for whole-wheat breads, brown rice, wild rice, oatmeal, cornmeal, barley, and rye.
  • Eat less deli. Think that a smoked turkey sandwich is a healthier choice than a burger? Don't be so sure. Deli meats are often packed with salts, nitrates, and preservatives that can be bad for your heart. Instead, go for whole chicken breasts or in-house roasted turkey.
  • Eat less when eating out. Experts say we're eating too many calories. Restaurant portion sizes may have a lot to do with it. According to the CDC, the amount of food in one average restaurant meal today is like four average restaurant meals from the 1950s. Studies have also found that the bigger the portion served, the more we'll eat. The solution? Get in the habit of only eating half of what's on your plate. You can take the rest home.
  • Fill up on fiber. Fiber absorbs fat during digestion and reduces swelling in your arteries. It also helps with weight control because it makes you feel full faster -- and improves your digestive health. What's not to like? Fruit, vegetables, nuts, and beans are all good sources of fiber.
  • Note: If you have atrial fibrillation or another condition treated with an anticoagulant like Coumadin (warfarin), be on the alert for vegetables with vitamin K. This vitamin can reduce the drug's effectiveness. Veggies with vitamin K include Brussels sprouts, cabbage, collard greens, kale, mustard greens, spinach, and turnip greens. If you eat these foods, keep the amount you eat about the same from day to day. If you want to add any of these foods to your diet, talk to your doctor first. You may be able to introduce small amounts slowly.

The good news is that these actions help everyone -- whether you're trying to prevent heart problems in the future, are already living with high blood pressure or high cholesterol, or have a problem like atrial fibrillation, which often results from a diet-related heart problem.

The best news is: It's never too early -- or too late -- to improve your diet and heart health.

Reviewed By: James Beckerman, MD, FACC

Orginal Article: http://www.webmd.com/heart-disease/atrial-fibrillation/afib-12/heart-diet?page=2