Listed below are simple facts about fresh produce and health that you can pass on to your customer.
· Eat 5 or more servings of fruits and vegetables a day.
· Eat at least one high-fiber selection a day.
· Eat cruciferous (cabbage family) vegetables several times a week.
· Enjoy the most colorful fruits and vegetables often.
· Eat at least one dark green vegetable daily.
Research continues to find strong links between increased fruit and vegetable consumption and the decreased risk of chronic diseases such as cancer, heart disease, and stroke. Convincing evidence proves that fruit and vegetable consumption plays a positive role in the reduced incidence of cataracts, diverticulosis, high blood pressure, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, asthma, bronchitis, and osteoporosis.
Eating 5 or more servings of fruits and vegetables daily will reduce health risks substantially. Strategies to reach the goal of 5 or more servings of fruits and vegetables a day include having fruits and vegetables at every meal and choosing fruits and vegetables for snacks.
Coronary heart disease is the major cause of death in the United States, and is the most common and most serious form of cardiovascular disease. Current evidence suggests a strong protective role for fruits and vegetables on coronary heart disease. Risk reduction for coronary heart disease is estimated to be 20-40 percent.
Cancer is the second leading cause of death with 1.3 million new cases diagnosed each year. Today, 563,000 Americans, or 1 in 4 patients who get cancer, are expected to die of the disease. A diet rich in fruits and vegetables, combined with regular exercise, can reduce cancer incidence by 30-40 percent. This translates globally to approximately 3-4 million cases of cancer per year that could be prevented by healthy eating and associated lifestyle changes.
Stroke is the third leading cause of death and kills about 160,000 of the 500,000 Americans who experience one each year. The risk reduction for high fruit and vegetable intake on stroke may be up to 25 percent. Fruits and vegetables help control high blood pressure and reduce the risk for blood clotting.
High blood pressure is one of the nation's most common health problems. One-quarter of adults - approximately 43 million people - suffer from high blood pressure. Diets rich in fruits and vegetables (8-10 servings per day) have been shown to reduce blood pressure both in individuals with and without high blood pressure.
Neural tube birth defects occur when the neural tube - which eventually becomes the spinal tube - fails to close about three to four weeks after an egg is fertilized. Scientific experts now estimate that half of all neural tube defects could be prevented if women were to consume the recommended intake of folic acid shortly before they conceive. Eating fruits and vegetables rich in folic acid, along with fortified grain products, can play a vital role in meeting folic acid recommendations to prevent neural tube defects.
Fruits and vegetables may keep blood sugar down and control diabetes. There appears to be a protective effect of soluble fiber on cholesterol levels in individuals with diabetes. Fruits and vegetables are some of the best sources of soluble fiber.
Cataracts are one of the world's major causes of blindness. Occurrence in the U.S. increases from 5 percent at age 65 to 40 percent for persons 75 years and older. In the U.S., age-related cataracts cost $5 billion/year, which is the largest single item in Medicare expenditures. More than half of the cataract extractions and associated costs could be eliminated if cataracts were delayed by ten years. Researchers have found a significant five-fold reduction in relative risk for cataracts among consumers of more than 1.5 daily servings of fruits, vegetables, or both fruits and vegetables.
Diverticulosis has been tagged the "byproduct of our refined eating habits." Approximately one-third of Americans age 50 suffers from diverticulosis. More than two-thirds of Americans age 80 suffer from diverticulosis. High-fiber diets are known to provide the best defense against the development of diverticulosis. Fruits, vegetables, and whole grains are the best sources of fiber in the diet.
Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease
Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease is the fourth leading cause of death, affecting 10-20 percent of adults. Common examples are asthma and bronchitis, each of which affects approximately 15 million people in the U.S., or about 5 percent of the population. Research suggests that a high intake of fruits and vegetables enhances ventilatory function, thereby reducing the risk of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease.
A recent study by Tufts University supports the hypothesis that alkaline-producing dietary components, specifically potassium, magnesium, fruits, and vegetables contribute to maintenance of bone mineral density.
Many plant families also contain phytochemicals, natural plant substances that work with nutrients and dietary fiber to protect against disease. Some of the more common phytochemicals found in fruits and vegetables include flavonoids, quercetin, carotentoids, alllium, and others. Phytochemicals can be found in the following fruits and vegetables:
Phytochemicals in oranges, tangerines, and grapefruits may help the body resist cancer-causing chemicals (carcinogens), prevent harmful blood clotting, and avoid blindness.
Melons and berries of all varieties may assist the immune system and help lower blood cholesterol. This family includes kiwifruit, cucumbers, squash, and pumpkins.
Red grapes especially may help resist carcinogens, protect DNA in cells, and prevent harmful blood clots that trigger heart attacks and strokes.
Cruciferous (Cabbage Family) Vegetables
Broccoli, cauliflower, brussels sprouts, kale, bok choy, collards, turnips, mustard greens, kohlrabi, and watercress may lower the risk of hormone-related cancers, help protect DNA, and boost the body's ability to fight off cancer.
Phytochemicals in apricots, persimmons, cantaloupe, sweet potatoes, pumpkins, and carrots may help protect against cancer, fatty plaque in the arteries, blood clots, and loss of eyesight. Spinach, kale, and dark leafy greens may have similar benefits.
Tomatoes and eggplant may prevent carcinogens from forming, shield cells from carcinogens, or neutralize cancer-causing free radicals. Tomato products may reduce prostate cancer and heart attack risk.
This class of vegetables may help the body produce less cholesterol, block cancer-causing chemicals, control cancer cells, and eliminate other toxic chemicals.
Vegetables such as artichokes and stone fruits including peaches, plums, nectarines, and cherries - as well as pears, apples, mangoes, bananas, and avocados - provide fiber, folate, potassium, and other nutrients that reduce the risk of heart disease and cancer. The monounsaturated fat in avocados, like that in olive oil and tree nuts, does not appear to raise disease risk and may be protective.
Phytochemicals in soybeans may block hormone-related cancers, stimulate the immune system, and slow tumor growth, especially in the colon. Beans contain fiber, iron, protein, and folate - a B vitamin that builds blood cells, helps prevent neural tube defects, and may help prevent heart attacks.
Frozen fruits and vegetables contain nutrients similar to freshly harvested produce. Other processed fruits and vegetables retain most of their nutrient, fiber, and phytochemical value. Steaming and microwaving helps to maintain the vitamin C content and folate content of vegetables.
Disclaimer: Information outlined on these pages concerning claims that can be made about fruits and vegetables represents our best interpretation of food labeling rules.
General statements on fruits and vegetables when spoken of as a total category:
Positive benefits of increased vegetable and fruit consumption include reduced risk of coronary heart disease, stroke, obesity, and some types of cancer. Some scientific studies have demonstrated that greater fruit and vegetable consumption is consistent with a reduced risk of some types of cancers, including cancer of the stomach, esophagus, and lung. * A review of over 200 scientific studies has shown that the types of vegetables that most often appear to be protective against cancer are raw vegetables, followed by allium vegetables (onions, garlic, scallions, leeks, chives), carrots, green vegetables, cruciferous vegetables (broccoli, cauliflower, Brussels sprouts, cabbage), and tomatoes.
Substances present in vegetables and fruit that help protect against cancer include: dithiolthiones, isthiocyanates, indole-3-carbinol, allium compounds, isoflavones, protease inhibitors, saponins, phytosterols, inositol hexaphosphate, vitamin C, D-limonene, lutein, folic acid, beta carotene, lycopene, selenium, vitamin E, flavonoids, and dietary fiber.
Cancer is ranked as a leading cause of death in the United States. The overall economic costs of cancer, including direct health care costs and lost productivity are very high. About 1.2 million new cancer cases will be diagnosed this year, and approximately half a million people will lose their lives to cancer this year - more than 1,500 people a day. One of every four deaths in the United States is from cancer. People who eat 5 or more servings of fruits and vegetables every day have 1/2 the risk of developing cancer as those who eat only one or two servings per day.
Although the specific roles of protective substances in plant foods are not yet fully understood, many studies have shown that diets high in plant foods are associated with reduced risk of some types of cancers. These studies correlate diets rich in fruits and vegetables and nutrients from these diets, such as vitamin C, vitamin A, and dietary fiber, with reduced cancer risk. The protective effect of fruits and vegetables may be due to known vitamins and minerals, the displacement of fat from a diet rich in fruits and vegetables, or from other plant compounds in these foods. U.S. diets tend to be high in fat and low in fruits and vegetables. Studies in various parts of the world indicate that populations who consume a diet high in plant foods have lower risks of some cancers.
Coronary heart disease is a major public health concern in the United States, primarily because it accounts for more deaths than any other disease or group of diseases. More than 960,000 Americans die of cardiovascular disease each year, accounting for more than 40% of deaths. Everyday, more than 2,600 Americans die of cardiovascular diseases, an average of one death every 33 seconds. The cost of cardiovascular disease in the United States is estimated to be $274 billion annually. This includes health expenditures and lost productivity resulting from illness and death. The use of expensive treatment, while effective in delaying death from cardiovascular disease, is likely to continue to increase the financial impact.
Sodium intakes exceed recommended levels in almost every group in the United States. One of the major public health recommendations relative to high blood pressure is to decrease consumption of salt. On a population-wide basis, reducing the average sodium intake would have a small but significant effect on reducing the average blood pressure, and consequently, reducing mortality from cardiovascular disease and stroke. Fruits and vegetables are all low in sodium.
More than 30% of the nation's adults (some 58 million people) are obese and thus have a higher risk for heart disease, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and other chronic diseases and conditions such as diabetes.
Only 27% of women and 19% of men report eating the recommended five servings of fruits and vegetables every day.