The Benefits Of Fruits And Veggies

Yu Shing Ting
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Friday - June 27, 2007
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Loretta Ables Sayre plays auntie in a commercial with Lt. Gov. Duke Aiona
Loretta Ables Sayre plays auntie in a commercial with
Lt. Gov. Duke Aiona

This week, the Hawaii state Department of Health launches a 10-week statewide campaign called “Fruits and Veggies: Good Choice!” to encourage all Hawaii residents to eat one more serving of fruits and veggies each day.

“The average adult in Hawaii eats about three and a half servings of fruits and vegetables a day,, and what we really want is to get people up to at least five servings a day,” says Jay Maddock, director for the Office of Public Health Services at the University of Hawaii. “One serving equals one cup of raw fruits and vegetables or half a cup of cooked fruits and vegetables.”

According to the DOH, a variety of fruits and vegetables are foods you can have anytime because they are low in calories and high in nutritional value. It also can help to maintain a healthy weight and may reduce your risk for chronic diseases and certain cancers.

“What we find is that a lack of consumption of fruits and vegetables is pretty strongly linked to heart disease and stroke,” adds Maddock. “Also, with fruits and vegetables you get a lot of fiber, which can help to control weight and reduce the risk of colon cancer.”

The Fruits and Veggies: Good Choice! campaign is targeted at 35- to 55-year-old adults and features television, radio and print ads.

The first TV ad shows Lt. Gov. Duke Aiona at a family barbecue with an aunty who decides to serve healthier fruits and vegetables while she prepares the food.

The second commercial depicts a mother in a supermarket who shares how her decision to provide her family with healthy food choices starts when she goes grocery shopping.

And the third ad features a construction worker at a lunch wagon choosing a tossed salad instead of mac salad, and then sharing how he feels better after eating just one more serving of fruits and vegetables each day.

“Eating one more serving of fruits and veggies every day is an action that is do-able and can give everyone great health benefits,” adds Maddock. “The key is to substitute it into your diet, not add it.”

When selecting fruits and vegetables, it’s important to get a variety because different fruits and vegetables offer different benefits.

For example, fruits and vegetables that are:

* Red (red peppers, tomatoes, strawberries) are good for your heart, memory function, urinary tract, and can lower the risk of some cancers.

* Orange and yellow (oranges, bananas, yellow and orange peppers, pumpkin) are good for your heart, vision, a healthy immune system and can lower the risk of some cancers.

* Green (broccoli, spinach, bok choy) are good for your vision, strong bones and teeth, and can lower the risk of some cancers.

* Blue and purple (blueberries, grapes) are good for your urinary tract, memory function, healthy aging and can lower the risk of some cancers.

* White (onions, garlic and potatoes) are good for your heart, cholesterol levels (that are already healthy) and lower the risk of some cancers.

“The big message here is really that different types of colors have different types of benefits, so the best thing to do is have a variety of colors,” explains Maddock. “Also, it’s important to note that 100 percent fruit juices tend to be mostly sugar, so we recommend for people to drink up to just one glass a day. Juice is higher in calories and lower in fiber than whole fruit, but can still have a lot of benefits, so one glass a day is good. It’s a nice way to get one of your five, but it should-n’t be five of your five.

“Another important thing to notice is that frozen vegetables and fruits have the same amount of nutrients as fresh. A lot of times people make that mistake, that fresh is better. And canned vegetables still have a lot of the nutrients, but beware of the sodium.”

And, in case you were wondering, french fries don’t count. “Anything that’s deep-fried, you’re getting a lot of fat along with it,” says Maddock. “With french fries, when it’s deep fried, you lose a lot of the nutrients that the potato has.”

So, remember, when planning your next meal, think fruits and veggies. It’s a good choice!

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