Experts are always shouting the beneifts of fruits and vegetables.  Some may ask “What’s the big deal?” Researchers have found some very important information regarding the value of these foods over the last 30 years.  Below are 3 facts that help to explain important reasons why eating your fruits and vegetables will help you stay healthy.  Remember these facts are true for plant-based foods, so supplements and meal replacement bars may not provide the same benefits.

Fact #1 - Phytochemicals

A plant produces phytochemicals to help protect itself from the sun and environmental elements. These same phytochemicals are benifical to the human body in 4 different ways: powerful anti-inflammatory, antioxident, immune boosting capabilities, and natural detoxification in the body. The three main chemicals you should know about are: LYCOPENE - This is what gives tomatoes their bright red colors and is a potent antioxident. Antioxidents battle the free radicals in your system that can damage cell sturctures leading to cancers, heart disease, cataracts, arthritis and aging. ANTHOCYANINS - causes the dark blue color of blueberries and is a powerful anti-inflammatory. SULFORAPHANE - found in broccoli is a powerful detoxifier. This is also found in other curciferous veggies such as cabbage, kale, and cauliflower.

Fact #2- Disease Prevention

Studies have shown that eating a variety of fruits and vegetables daily will provide additional protection from many different diseases such as: heart attack, cataracts, gastrointestinal disorders, high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes, cancer, Alzheimer's, and macular degeneration. A clinical study associated with the well know DASH trial reported that people who ate a minimum of 8 servings of fruit and vegetables per day had a 30% lower chance of having a heart attack or stroke. Cancer cases are also lower for those that consume fruits and vegetables. The biggest reduction was in cancers of the throat, esophagus, mouth and stomach. The American Cancer Institute believes eating fruits and vegetables can lower cancer risks overall by as much as 20%. Broccoli has also been linked to a reduced risk for prostate cancer. \

Fact #3 - Low Calorie

Fruits and Vegetables are significantly lower in calories then the other food groups. Numerous studies have shown that increased fruit and vegetable consumption leads to greater weight loss and a more satisfied feeling then strictly low calorie low fat dieting. Eating a variety of fruits and vegetables provides the body with the full array of vitamins and minerals. The easiest way to make sure you are eating a variety is to make sure you are eating as many different colors as possible. The brighter the colors the better. Remember starchy vegetables such as potato, corn and peas are not as low calorie as other vegetables. Eat these in more moderation. It is also important to remember that fruit is not quite as low calorie due to the natural sugar in fruit. The other nutritional benefits of fruit often out weigh the additional calories from the sugar, but still something to be aware of.