Health Team

Fruits, Veggies Pack Plenty of Vitamins

Posted June 7, 2007 5:25 p.m. EDT
Updated June 7, 2007 6:45 p.m. EDT

— The State Farmers Market and the produce section of any supermarket have as many natural medicines as any pharmacy.

Fresh fruits and vegetables are good medicine for anyone, said Natalie Newell, a registered dietitian at Rex Healthcare. Federal guidelines recommend five to nine servings per person each day.

"If you're having a large salad at dinner time, you're probably getting about two to three cups at that meal right there," Newell said.

When it comes to vegetables, the deeper and darker in color, the better. Dark, leafy greens help prevent cancer, lift people's moods and improve immunity and blood circulation. They are also loaded with vitamins and are a great source of fiber.

Tomatoes give a salad even more health power because they contain lycopene.

"Lycopenes are very predominant in them, and they prevent heart disease, cancer. They have a lot of great preventive roles," Newell said.

Anyone looking to lower blood pressure and cholesterol should try cooking with garlic, she said, adding it could even replace added salt to some recipes.

"It's going to provide great flavor, and it's going to provide absolutely no fat," she said.

Sweet potatoes should be used instead of the white varieties because they are rich in antioxidants to prevent cancer, stabilize blood sugar and lower insulin resistance, Newell said.

"If you're even willing to eat the skin, you're going to get a significant amount of fiber. We need 25 grams per day," she said.

Blueberries and strawberries also pack lots of medicinal power, she said, noting the berries contain antioxidants.

"It's fresh and those are the things that we want our kids to be eating," she said.

Locally grown fruits and vegetables are the best source of vitamins and minerals because they're usually fresher than those found in most grocery stores, she said.