Fresh fruit and vegetables can ward off illness and improve healing.
A study by nutritionists at Edith Cowan University has found that eating two serves of fruit and five serves of vegetables a day could cut your risk of developing a range of cancers, heart and blood vessel disease, metabolic syndrome and bone disease.
Fresh procuce such as oranges, carrots and broccoli can reduce the risk of diseases such as cancer of the larynx, oesophagus, cervix and lungs.
The study found that increased consumption of fruit and vegetables could significantly reduce the rates of cancer, cardiovascular disease, diabetes, mental health problems, musculoskeletal conditions and metabolic syndrome.
A review of literature shows strong and compelling evidence that a diet high in vegetables and fruit is an important contributor to a decreased risk for many cancer types. There is compelling evidence that a low-fat, high-fibre diet (largely vegetable based) that reduces body fat will greatly decrease the risk for many cancers.
Australia’s peak health body, the National Health and Medical Research Council, recognises that health costs due to increased cancer risk are associated with inadequate fruit and vegetable consumption.
Research shows that consumption of vegetables and fruit is associated with reduced risk of CVD-related pathology and CVD-related death.
The decrease in the risk of obesity that is associated with a diet high in fruit and vegetables is likely to result in a reduced risk of Type 2 diabetes.
Vegetables and fruit are not only associated with an improvement in metabolic risks, but high intake is also related to reduced plasma concentrations of inflammatory markers. Phytochemicals contained in vegetables raise antioxidant capacity, lower blood pressure and reduce oxidative stress.
patterns are associated with a reduction in markers of systemic vascular inflammation. A diet high in fruit and vegetables, rather than supplementing with individual nutrients, is important for avoiding metabolic syndrome.
Fruit and vegetables contain vitamin constituents and an alkalising effect which is beneficial to bone structure and fracture prevention.
The evidence strongly supports the promotion of vegetables and fruit consumption in addition to adequate calcium intake, as an effective deterrent to maximising peak bone mass and minimising bone loss and fracture risk.
There is strong evidence which suggests dietary changes that optimise nutrients can reduce the risk of disease development. Foods which have been ascribed healing properties include celery, cucumber, endive, parsley, radish and legumes and are sometimes referred to as superfoods.
Antioxidant nutrients have a protective role against free radical damage, therefore decreased intake of nutrients important to antioxidant status have been shown to contribute to an increase in asthmatic complications. A study of 516 women with post-menopausal breast cancer found that those with the highest vegetable intake had a greater chance of survival during the study.
David Element, VegetablesWA, said fruit and vegetable growers were working hard to convey the convenience factor of fresh produce because time-poor consumers were looking for fast and ready-to-eat food. We are looking at how better marketing of fruit and vegetables can help Australia become a healthier nation.
The consumer behaviour review also found that cost, time and lack of awareness about the benefits of eating fruit and vegetables were the major barriers to healthy eating.
Study author Amanda Devine, senior lecturer in nutrition at ECU, said people had to start putting fruit and vegetables on their menu ahead of fast and convenience foods if there was going to be a turnaround in the incidence of chronic disease.
The motivation to change and the sense of urgency about personal health and the belief does not seem strong enough for many people to make changes to their diet, despite the strong evidence of the a diet high in fruit and vegetables.
Dr Devine said it is a big challenge to both health professionals and the public to change their habits and reduce the burden of chronic disease.