A diet out of the Garden of EdenThe World Health Organization started a campaign Monday aimed at getting people to eat more fruits and vegetables. The WHO estimates that if everyone consumed enough fresh fruits and vegetables, 2.7 million lives could be saved annually.
The organization’s research suggests that a diet lacking in fruits and vegetables is responsible for 31 percent of heart disease cases, 19 percent of colon cancer cases and 11 percent of stroke cases.
The WHO recommends that everyone eats at least 400 grams, about 14 ounces, a day of fresh fruits and vegetables. The National Cancer Institute in the United States has long suggested that people eat five daily servings of fruits and vegetables. When thought of in terms of servings (one piece of fruit would be considered a serving), it becomes clear that most people do not eat enough fresh produce. And of course, the great thing about fruits and vegetables is that few of them are fattening ― so it is no problem to eat as much as you like.
The majority of a person’s intake of produce should consist of vegetables. Many are rich in dietary fiber and minerals and bursting with lycopene and other disease-fighting antioxidants. Antioxidants are natural compounds that are known to help protect cells from damage caused by oxygen free radicals. This protection is thought to prevent many chronic diseases, such as certain cancers, heart and lung diseases and slow the aging process.
Of course fruits are generally tastier than vegetables. This is because fruits contain fructose, a sugar. That can be a bad point if you are diabetic. And if you consume too much fruit the fructose can raise the level of sugar in your blood, contributing to weight gain. In addition, vegetables are much cheaper than fruits, so consuming more vegetables than fruits is also cost-effective.
It is usually better to slightly boil vegetables rather than to eat them raw. There are two reasons for this. First, the boiling process can rid the vegetables of harmful substances, like pesticides. In other cases, vegetables can be harmful if eaten raw but fine when cooked a little. Bracken, for example, can cause cancer if consumed raw in large quantities over a long period of time. But when it is boiled, the cancer-causing chemical is netralized. The second reason to boil vegetables is to make the rough fibers soft, reducing the volume, making it easier to eat more vegetables than if they were consumed raw.
It is no coincidence that in examining the diets of centenarians gerontologists find that most enjoy eating boiled greens of some kind.
Different approaches must be taken when eating fruits because each fruit has its own distinctive characteristic. Kiwi is the best fruit in terms of vitamin content. Eating just one kiwi a day will more than satisfy the recommended daily dose of vitamin C for most people. About eight strawberries or one large orange will also fulfill this daily requirement. Strawberries are also rich in iron. For pregnant women or people who suffer from anemia, strawberries are one of the best things to eat.
Most Koreans enjoy apples and pears. If you remove the peels before eating these fruits, they contain no vitamins. All of the vitamins are in the peels. Even without the peels, though, they are full of fiber, which helps digestion. One apple provides 20 percent of the recommended daily allowance of dietary fiber; one pear has about 16 percent. If you really do not like vegetables, apples and pears are a good source of fiber.
Bananas are a great source of energy. Two bananas contain more calories than a large serving of steamed white rice. For people with busy schedules that cause them to skip a meal or two, bananas are a nearly ideal pick-me-up. They are also a great source of potassium, which helps prevent muscle cramps, high blood pressure and stroke -- perfect for athletes. Of course, because of their high calorie content, you will probably want to steer clear of bananas if you have problems controlling your weight.
Plums, including dried ones, are a fantastic source of vitamin A, which is essential for healthy vision, skin and a well-functioning immune system. They are also rich in potassium, antioxidants and boron, which some studies suggest helps prevent arthritis and osteoporosis. Boron has also been shown to stimulate female hormones, which means that plums are highly recommended for women who are going through menopause.
by Hong Hye-gyeol