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Why You Should Eat Fruits and Vegetables!

Reason#1. You should eat fruits and vegetables because your mother says so.

However if that reason is not good enough for you to start eating a lot of fruits and veggies here is some more information on why and how it is good for you.

  • Besides your mother telling you so, it is by far the best way to take much needed antioxidants.
  • Fruits and vegetables provide essential vitamins and minerals, fiber, and other substances that are important for maintaining good health.
  • Most fruits and vegetables are low in fat and calories and are filling.

Why do we need antioxidants - to help protect the body from free-radical damage.

The vitamins C, E, Beta-carotene, and Selenium help protect the body against the destructive effects of free radicals.

  • Vitamin C is the most abundant water-soluble antioxidant in the body Important sources include citrus fruits, green peppers, broccoli, green leafy vegetables, strawberries, raw cabbage and potatoes.
  • Vitamin E is the most abundant fat-soluble antioxidant in the body. Important sources include wheat germ, nuts, seeds, whole grains, green leafy vegetables, vegetable oil and fish-liver oil.
  • Beta-carotene -- Important sources include carrots, squash, broccoli, sweet potatoes, tomatoes, kale, collards, cantaloupe, peaches and apricots are particularly rich sources of beta-carotene.
  • Selenium -- Important sources include fish, shellfish, red meat, grains, eggs, chicken and garlic. Vegetables can also be a good source if grown in selenium-rich soils

But before you go out and buy supplements of these vitamins, know that more is not always better. The long-term positive effects of large doses of these supplement nutrients has not been proven.

There are other chemicals and substances found in natural sources of antioxidants, (fruits, veggies, whole grains, seeds and nuts). They have most beneficial effects in their natural form. So for now, the best way to ensure adequate intake of the antioxidant nutrients is through a balanced diet consisting of at least 5-8 servings of fruits and vegetables per day. Unless you are prescribed and advised to take additional antioxidant supplements by your health professional.

Organisms age because cells accumulate free radical damage over time

In general; "free radical" is any atom/molecule that has a single unpaired electron in an outer shell.

Cells are composed of many different types of molecules. Molecules consist of one or more atoms of one or more elements joined by chemical bonds.

The number of protons (positively charged particles) in the atom's nucleus determines the number of electrons (negatively charged particles) surrounding the atom. Electrons are involved in chemical reactions and are the substance that bonds atoms together to form molecules. Electrons surround, or "orbit" an atom in one or more shells. The innermost shell is full when it has two electrons. When the first shell is full, electrons begin to fill the second shell. When the second shell has eight electrons, it is full, and so on.

The most important structural feature of an atom for determining its chemical behavior is the number of electrons in its outer shell. A substance that has a full outer shell tends not to enter in chemical reactions. Because atoms seek to reach a state of maximum stability, an atom will try to fill it's outer shell by:

Gaining or losing electrons to either fill or empty its outer shell

Sharing its electrons by bonding together with other atoms in order to complete its outer shell

Atoms often complete their outer shells by sharing electrons with other atoms. By sharing electrons, the atoms are bound together and satisfy the conditions of maximum stability for the molecule.

Free radicals are very unstable and react quickly with other compounds, trying to capture the needed electron to gain stability. Generally, free radicals attack the nearest stable molecule, "stealing" its electron. When the "attacked" molecule loses its electron, it becomes a free radical itself, beginning a chain reaction. Once the process is started, it can cascade, finally resulting in the disruption of a living cell.

Some free radicals arise normally during metabolism. Sometimes the body's immune system's cells purposefully create them to neutralize viruses and bacteria. But environmental factors such as pollution UV radiation and herbicides can also spawn free radicals.

Normally, the body can handle free radicals, but if antioxidants are unavailable, or if the free-radical production becomes excessive, damage can occur.

Of particular importance is that free radical damage accumulates with age.

Antioxidants neutralize free radicals by donating one of their own electrons, ending the electron-"stealing" reaction. The antioxidant nutrients themselves don't become free radicals by donating an electron because they are stable in either form. Antioxidants act as scavengers, helping to prevent cell and tissue damage that could lead to cellular damage and disease.

I hope this bit of information here is going to be helpful in understanding the importance of fruits and veggies in your diet. So even if you rather choose chips and crackers to snack on, perhaps you will take an apple or some other fruit or vegetable next time you feel like having a snack, and if you do be proud of yourself, know your mother would be too.

Now that you have just a bit of information and knowledge about the importance of antioxidants it is your responsibility to act on it.

Knowing what to do doesn't count, doing what you know does.


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