Antioxidants in fruits and vegetables can prevent several leading causes of death.
WHAT THEY’RE SAYING
Antioxidants prevent our bodies from getting certain illnesses such as diabetes, high blood pressure, heart attacks, and even cancer.
WHAT WE KNOW
So how does an antioxidant work? Throughout your life, your body regularly produces free radicals. Each free radical contains an unpaired electron on its outer ring. This causes them to be highly chemically reactive. Due to their reactivity, the free radicals can participate in unwanted side reactions resulting in cell damage. Many forms of cancer are thought to be the result of reactions between free radicals and DNA, in which cause mutations that can adversely affect the cell cycle. Also, some of the symptoms of aging such as atherosclerosis (plaque formation in the arteries) are attributed to free radical-induced oxidation of many of the chemicals making up the body.
Antioxidants that we eat or drink help remove these free radicals. They do this by attaching to these unpaired electrons on the outer ring of the free radical and removing them from the body. In essence, this ability of the antioxidants can lead to a healthier and cleaner body that is free from illnesses.
Where do we find antioxidants? Fruits and vegetables are packed with so many powerful antioxidants that are very useful for the human body.
HOW DO WE KNOW THIS?
In a recent study reported in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute researchers analyzed dietary data from more that 142,605 men and 335,873 women living in Europe. After nine years 9,604 men and 21,000 women were identified with cancer. Those who ate the most fruits and veggies had some added protection against the dreaded diagnosis. The study found that an additional 150 grams of fruits and vegetables per day (1.5 servings) was associated with a 2.6% lower incidence in men and a 2.3% incidence of cancer in women.*
In addition, a recent thorough review of the role of food and nutrition and cancer was released in 2007 – Food, Nutrition, Physical Activity and the Prevention of Cancer: a Global Perspective. This report also conveys the probable role of fruits and vegetables in cancer prevention.
Remember that some cancers and disease are not preventable due to genetic factors. However, a majority of the risk factors associated with cancer and other diseases are related to lifestyle factors. So eating a balanced diet rich in fruits and vegetables along with exercising on a regular basis can decrease your risk from developing these disease significantly!
There are many reasons to eat your fruits and vegetables! Not only are they helpful at reducing the risk of some cancers, coronary heart disease and stroke, but they are also low in calories to help prevent obesity, which is a significant risk factor for type 2 diabetes, cancer, and cardiovascular disease.
The antioxidant quality of fruits and vegetables is just one of the many ways fruits and vegetables are protective to your health. Consuming a diet that meets your recommended amount of fruits and vegetables each day – along with adequate exercise – is one of the best ways to give your body a strong defense against cancer and other disease in the future. While some cancers and diseases are not preventable, eating your fruits and vegetables helps remove those free radicals that can cause mutations and cell damage throughout your body.
The natural antioxidants of fruits and vegetables along with their other vitamins, minerals, and fiber will keep your body working at its best. For more reasons to eat fruits and vegetables check out Top 10 Reasons to Eat More Fruits and Vegetables.
* Boffetta, Paola, et al. "Fruit and Vegetable Intake and Overall Cancer Risk in the European Prospective Investigation Into Cancer and Nutrition." Journal of National Cancer Institute 109 no. 102 (2010 ):1-9.