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21 November 2011

Plant-based foods best

More people are encouraged to fill up half their plates with fruits and veggies in an attempt to boost nutrition.

US government health experts now encourage Americans to fill half their plates with fruits and vegetables. Weight Watchers' new system assigns no points to nearly all fruits and vegetables, making them a truly "guilt-free" option.

Despite this, many people seem to have a hard time eating vegetables, something that's developed the reputation of being a chore rather than a pleasure. President Barack Obama even likened the need to finish difficult debt ceiling negotiations to the need to "eat our peas".

  • But there's a lot of nutritional power packed into that cup or half-cup. Though the precise benefit varies by type of fruit or vegetable, it could include a significant amount of:
  • Calcium, which promotes healthy bones and teeth, and is needed for proper functioning of muscles and nerves.
  • Folate, which reduces a woman's chances of having a child with a birth defect.
  • Iron, which is necessary for healthy blood and cell function.
  • Magnesium, which prevents muscle cramping and high blood pressure and is needed for healthy bones and proper enzymatic function.
  • Potassium, which helps maintain healthy blood pressure.
  • Vitamin A, which keeps eyes and skin healthy and helps protect the body against infection.
  • Vitamin C, which aids in healing cuts or wounds and helps keep teeth and gums healthy.

  • Blue and purple fruits and vegetables contain anthocyanins, which have been shown to help fight some cancers and are helpful in anti-aging and memory function. They are found in blueberries, blackberries, plums, grapes, figs and raisins.
  • Green fruits and vegetables contain luteins, which lower cancer risk and help promote better vision and strong bones and teeth. They are found in avocados, kiwi fruit, pears and apples.
  • Red fruits and vegetables contain anthocyanins and lycopene, which can help keep the heart healthy, maintain better memory function and lower the risk for some cancers.

 
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