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“Eat Plenty of Fruits and Vegetables”
AS A CHILD, YOU HATED to hear it. As a teenager, you promised yourself you’d never say it to your own children. Yet as a parent, it—Eat your vegetables, they’re good for you—springs out of the mouth unbidden, like wisdom that must be passed from generation to generation.
That’s actually a good description. “Eat plenty of fruits and vegetables” is timeless advice that science is only now catching up to. It is a simple, easy-to-remember, and tasty morsel of superb dietary advice that ranks high on the list of smart and healthy nutritional habits. A diet rich in fruits and vegetables can:
- decrease the chances of having a heart attack or stroke;
- lower blood pressure;
- help you avoid constipation and the painful intestinal ailment called diverticulitis;
- guard against two common aging-related eye diseases—cataract, the gradual clouding of the eye’s lens, and macular degeneration, the major causes of vision loss among people over age sixty-five;
- delay or prevent memory loss and a decline in thinking skills;
- help you feel full with fewer calories and so control your weight and waistline; and
- add variety to your diet and enliven your palate.
Notice that I keep saying “fruits and vegetables.” Pills that contain one or two or ten substances made by plants just won’t do. Why not? Plants make a seemingly endless cornucopia of compounds that have biological activity in the human body. So far, only a tiny minority have been flagged as agents that may be responsible for the health benefits of fruits and vegetables, sometimes on the basis of surprisingly little solid evidence. The vast majority of these phyto-chemicals (literally, chemicals made by plants) have yet to be discovered, named, chemically characterized, and biologically evaluated. The odds are high that the benefits just listed emanate from many different substances found in plants and quite possibly from the interactions among them.
Excerpt From: Walter Willett. “Eat, Drink, and Be Healthy.”