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He Said, She Said: Is Eating Any Type of Fruit & Vegetable Good For Health?

By many accounts, the American diet is in crisis. Our plates and portions are oversized, and our fat, sugar, and salt intake is stratospheric. Only a few of us, it seems, are getting the recommended amounts of fruits and vegetables – as low as 11% according to some studies.

But the more we know about the benefits of fruits and vegetables, the more inspired we are to change our habits. Fruits and veggies hold the nutritive power to lower cancer risk and decrease our chances of getting diabetes. They contribute to a healthy heart and brain and help us maintain our weight. Eating fruits and vegetables has a positive effect on almost every organ in the body by helping to preserve their function, prevent disease, and allow us to live longer, better quality lives.

Many of us are making efforts to get our recommended servings. These efforts can leave us wondering: is that salad at dinner really providing the nutrients we need? Does the tomato sauce in a pasta dinner mean we’ve logged a serving? Is it better to grab a bowl of wild blueberries or a carrot? That orange or that potato? The more we improve our eating habits, the more we want to know how important our fruit and veggie choices are, and if eating any serving is better than none at all.

He and She weigh in on the question, and provide their evidence.

Q: Does it matter what fruits and vegetables we eat as long as we eat them? 

He: No. Getting the recommended number of servings of fruits and vegetables will provide important health benefits no matter what those fruits and vegetables are. Here’s why: 

Reason #1. It is recommended we eat a wide variety of fruit and veggies that span the color spectrum. The more fruits and vegetables, the lower the risk of developing heart disease, some cancers, and lower there risk of diabetes and weight related illnesses, end of story. The USDA Food Plate specifies no types of fruits and vegetables. Even the Mediterranean diet, for instance, touted for its dietary excellence, emphasizes not specific kinds of fruits or vegetables, but that more are eaten, and eaten with with lots of olive oil, nuts and plenty of fish.

Reason #2. When we fill up on fruits and vegetables, they take the place of less healthy foods. For most Americans, eliminating high calorie foods, sugary snacks, fast foods, and processed foods in favor nutrient-rich fruits and vegetables is the key to better health. Whenever we are making the choice to eat any fruit or vegetable, we are eating a whole, natural food, not a processed one, and that means better health and more powerful disease prevention, period.

Reason #3. In the future, a simple saliva test will determine our susceptibility to certain diseases, and it will be affordable and accessible to everyone. We’ll understand then how certain hereditary risk factors can be counteracted by specific food choices. However, today, most of us simply don’t know which nutrients will promote a desirable gene reaction. Until we know more about our genetic makeup, we can’t be sure of how to target the best fruit and veggie Rx for our personal health, and getting our servings and eating widely across the color spectrum is the best advice.

Reason #4. Focusing on good foods, bad foods, and better foods is simply counterproductive. Any and all foods can be part of a healthy diet. They key to good nutrition is balance and moderation, with a focus on portion control. What’s more, there are virtually no unhealthy fruits or vegetables. As long as they are not processed, fried, or interfere with medications, allergies or other conditions, all are good for you. Enjoy!

She: Yes. Making smart nutritional choices about which fruits and vegetables you eat is vital to good health. Here’s why:

Reason #1. Some foods are just better than others when it comes to disease prevention, and if you are eating for good health, why not eat the best? For instance, targeting high-antioxidant, deeply colored foods will help with prevention as we age more effectively than less colorful, lower antioxidant fruits and vegetables. Eating nutrient dense, high antioxidant foods like wild blueberries has been found to combat free radicals and prevent diseases aging, some types of cancer, and heart disease. This fruit has also been found to improve cognitive function. If you have disease prevention in mind, says EmpowHer, and you’re reaching for an apple or orange for breakfast, you may want to reach for blueberries or strawberries instead.

Reason #2. As He pointed out, we must eat variety, and the best fruit and veggie choices are those that span the color spectrum, including rich greens, deep blues, bright oranges and reds. Making a conscious decision  to “eat across the rainbow” is important for food in general, and especially fruits and vegetables. And while we may agree on that, the fact is, focusing on broad fruit and vegetable servings without digging deeper into nutritional quality can lead to deficits and less effective disease prevention. Not making an effort to eat specific types of fruits and vegetables that provide the highest nutritional value can lead to eating only those we love or are used to, or those that stretch the budget more effectively. That can often mean missing out on valuable nutrients, antioxidants, phytochemicals, and vitamins that are crucial to our health. That tomato sauce has valuable lycopene, but that’s just a piece of the puzzle. Those potatoes are potassium-rich and full of vitamins, but their value can be negated by portion size and preparation.

Reason #3. One reason to choose your fruits and veggies carefully is that high Glycemic Index foods should be eaten in moderation (or paired with other things that have a low GI.) The Glycemic Index ranks foods according to its effect on blood glucose levels, and some fruits and vegetables may score higher on the GI scale. For optimum health, especially for those people with diabetes and weight concerns, we must understand glycemic measurements, obtain a list of foods and their Glycemic Index scores, and eat accordingly.

Reason #4. For some dried fruit, fruit juices, or fruits with additives, the nutritional benefits are outweighed by high calorie or sugar content. The truth is, not all fruits and vegetables are created equal, and weighing your food choices carefully  –  even when it comes to fruits and vegetables –  makes good, healthy sense.

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Did You Know? Antioxidants combat inflammation in the body which prevents diseases like cancer, heart disease, and Alzheimer’s, and provide major anti-aging and disease preventing benefits.Wild blueberries top the list of health promoting properties over most other fruits. Read the latest news about how blueberries, especially wild blueberries, protect the body.

Are you filling up on the healthiest foods? See what superfoods will change your life.  

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