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Ten Reasons to Eat Your Fruits and Veggies

Experts at the American Institute for Cancer Research (AICR) recommend that you eat five or more servings of fruits and vegetables each day. Why? Here are ten good reasons.

1.) Prevent Cancer. AICR's expert report on the role of diet in the prevention of cancer estimates that simply eating at least five servings of vegetables and fruits each day could prevent up to 20 percent of overall cancer cases. Vegetables and fruits are rich in naturally occurring substances that help keep cancer cells from forming.

2.) Keep Trim. Many vegetables contain 50 calories or fewer in a whole cup, while only five potato chips or one small cookie have the same number of calories. Satisfy your appetite with hearty servings of vegetables and fruits. You will feel full, and will eat smaller portions of higher-calorie meats and desserts.

3.) Prevent Heart Disease. Eating more vegetables and fruits - while cutting back on meat and dairy - can help you limit heart-damaging saturated fat and cholesterol in your diet. The substances in plant foods may help prevent fatty deposits from forming in blood vessels.

4.) Bring Blood Pressure Down. Many people think blood pressure can only be controlled through eating a low-salt diet and controlling weight. Yet several studies in which people followed a high vegetable and fruit diet achieved a significant drop in blood pressure.

5.) Prevent Stroke. Results of recent studies suggest that diets high in vegetables and fruits can decrease the risk of stroke by up to 25 percent. More research is needed, but scientists are optimistic about the potential of a mostly plant-based diet.

6.) Love Your Eyes. Eating more vegetables and fruits may lower your risk for two of the most common causes of adult blindness: cataracts (which occur in almost half of all Americans over the age of 75) and macular degeneration.

7.) Avoid Diverticulosis. Reports estimate that one-third of people over the age of 50, and two-thirds of those over the age of 80, have this intestinal disorder. The best defense is eating a diet high in fiber. Fruits and vegetables are major sources of fiber.

8.) Help for Diabetes. Fruits and vegetables seem to raise blood sugar less than other foods that contain carbohydrates, and their fiber can slow the absorption of sugar into the blood. The body more easily handles a gradual rise in blood sugar than an abrupt rise.

9. Satisfy Your Sweet Tooth. When you turn to fruit for a sweet taste and quick energy, you get an added boost - nutrition that works for you instead of just "empty calories" found in sweets like candy bars and soft drinks.

10.) They're a Prime Source of "Co-Factors" - Co-factors is the term professionals use when talking about vitamins, minerals, antioxidants and nutrients your body needs to process food. Co-factors are crucial for you to be able to absorb nutrition from food, make fuel for energy, neutralize stress and age gracefully.

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