The WHO blames millions of deaths a year on inadequate fruit and vegetable intake. The 2005 USDA Dietary Guidelines recommended at least one serving of whole fruit a day; even at this low level, 75% of people did not meet the requirement (see also here). In Greece, where a health agency formulates the dietary guidelines, nine servings of fruit and vegetables a day are recommended. The 2010 USDA Guidelines have finally caught up with the science and recommend shifting towards a plant-based diet. Different fruits and vegetables have different phytonutrients so variety in the diet is important (see also here, here). A healthy eating index is calculated based on the percentage of daily calories derived from phytonutrients; phytonutrients can only be found in plants. A diet based purely on raw modern cultivated fruits is not nutritionally adequate. A combination of raw and cooked foods is best.
The World Cancer Research Fund’s recommendation is to choose a diet that is rich in a variety of fruits and vegetables for cancer prevention (see also here, here, here, here). The best fruits for cancer prevention in general are probably berries, such as black raspberries. Fruit and vegetable consumption also appears to help cut the risk of developing an abdominal aortic aneurysm. Adding lots of fruits and vegetables to a meat diet is may not be as protective against cancer as a pure vegetarian diet. Breast cancer survival appears to be aided by a plant-based diet rich in fruits and vegetables. Fruits and vegetables appear to reduce heart disease risk (see also here, here) as well as improve survival from non-Hodgkin lymphoma (especially citrus fruits). Fruit consumption appears to be protective against COPD (emphysema) (see also here). Phenolics in fruit juice may protect against Alzheimer’s disease; grape juice appears to be the best. Fruit consumption may also be protective against glaucoma, cataracts, and macular degeneration (see here, here). Eating more fruits and vegetables may play a role in the prevention of kidney stone formation. Avocadoes are the best fruit source of cholesterol lowering phytosterols. Kiwis have also been found to improve cholesterol levels.
On average, plant foods have 64 times more antioxidants than animal foods. Indian gooseberries (see here, here, here), blackberries, dried apple rings, dried pomegranate seeds, black plums, pears, cranberries, apples, goji berries, acai berries, and blueberries are a great source of antioxidants (see also here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here). Triphala is also incredibly high in antioxidants but has been found to be contaminated with lead and should be avoided (see here, here).
Apples are one of the healthiest foods around; idared and red delicious have the highest antioxidant contents. But in terms of apple juice, it’s best to buy organic because fungal toxins have been found in regular apple juice. Watermelon is a rich source of citrulline. Dragon fruit may be helpful to our gut bacteria. And fruit helps to increase stool size. Adding just a single serving of berries to your diet every day could add a year to lifespan. A great way to incorporate dates and pumpkin into your diet is with a healthy pumpkin pie, and frozen cherries can be incorporated into a delicious and health promoting chocolate milkshake.
Obesity-causing pollutants have been found primarily in fish, although low levels have been found in fruits and vegetables (from fungicides). Noni juice, mangosteen juice, star fruit, and JuicePlus supplements may be dangerous. Moderate alcohol consumption by a minimally healthy person appears to have no effect on lifespan. Phthalate exposure (which may result in the feminization of male genitalia) is found in high levels in poultry; fruit appears safe.
See also the related blog post: Watermelon For Erectile Dysfunction
Topic summary contributed by Denise
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