Five out of the top six causes of deaths in United States are diet related. These include heart disease, Cancer, Stroke and Diabetes. The evidence now is very strong that those who eat five or more servings of fruits and vegetables daily are at a lower risk of Cancer and heart attack. This revelation was made by Dr. David Rosenthal, the past President of the American Cancer Society.
If you see the current executive food pyramid, the top half is occupied by fat oozing meatballs, chicken burgers and greasy mutton Kebab. Almost 40 percent of the bottom half is stuffed with mouth watering pastries, delicious ice creams and dairy products. Seductive fruits and shining vegetables remain crushed and beaten beneath this pyramid. We not only relish this mountainous menu, but often make it a point that this food pyramid goes into the lunch box of our children as well. Soon these greasy stuffs start wrecking our health. Our blood starts flowing like a lazy river. Arteries get clogged with filth, like a choked toilet, finding it difficult to flush out. Suddenly, everything comes to a standstill..!!
Such tragedies are avoidable if we are prepared and willing to make an alteration in our diet plan. Well, it is easier to watch our diet than following it. Remember the old saying, “You are what you eat”. Try to fatten your food with fruits and the result will be tonic than toxic. Fresh and dry fruits have been our natural staple food from the age of cave man. Fruits contain all important nutrients in a rational proportion. They are the best sources of natural vitamins, minerals and enzymes. The organic acids in fruits produce alkaline carbonates in our stomach and it works in combination with salvia, which is also alkaline, in promoting intestinal elimination and detoxification of our blood vessels. Fruits are easily digestible and completely absorbed in our body.
Copious intake of fruits controls the gradation of heart and soothes our nervous system. High level of potassium and magnesium content in fruits are beneficial to heart and act as natural diuretic. They keep the urine density lower and thereby accelerate the elimination of nitrogenous waste and chlorides. Since fruits contain very little sodium, it is an ideal diet for any hypertensive patient. Fruits find a place in the fashion world also. Alpha hydroxy acid found in citrus fruits and grapes are the most common additives in many skin care products and beauty creams.
Many fruits possess medicinal and therapeutic values. In a study conducted by nutritionist Dr. James Cerda, when two grapefruits were given daily to volunteers with high cholesterol for a period of just one month, there was an 8% reduction in their cholesterol levels, which means a 16% reduction in their risk of heart disease. This is due to a soluble fiber called pectin found in citrus fruits and Apple. Pectin binds cholesterol and prevents its absorption in blood stream. Grapefruit is an ideal fruit for diabetes also as it controls the insulin level.
Consider the fruit Pomegranate. It crushes Kidney stones, cures fever and digestive disorders, stimulates heart function and prevents sexual debilities. Pineapple has many healing powers. Bromelain, an enzyme present in this fruit breaks blood clots and it can prevent a stroke. Its juice is grandma’s remedy for recurring coughs and tonsillitis in children. The fruit contains manganese that helps to prevent Osteoporosis and strengthen muscles. Grapes are a natural chemical cleaning agent for clogged arteries.
In Bombay, I hear from my cousin Satish Nair, that some people undergo “grape fast” for two days on an exclusive diet of grapes. It helps them to purify their blood and cleanse their digestive tracks. Custard Apple is a magic fruit that nourishes both our heart and lungs. My mother-in-law still believes that a diet on custard apples worked more wonders than medicine when she had an onset of tuberculosis. Dating with the dates can dispel constipation. Figs are fountains of energy and sexual stamina. If your wife looks ashen and anemic, tell her to take apricots; you will soon see the red hue back on her cheeks.
All fruits contain natural vitamin C in abundance, which is a major antioxidant that repairs our damaged cells and neutralizes the free radicals formed in our bodies due to toxins. The colors of fruits are clues to what Phytochemicals are present in it. Phytochemicals-a natural bioactive compound found in plants and fruits - help them to respond to their environment, like insects, disease, drought or too much or too little sun. These plant defenders also protect the human body. So our strategy should be to eat a rainbow of fruits. The deep, rich hues in blueberries, plums, blackberries and blue grapes do more than make the fruit look pretty. They could help to save our life. The bottom line is that the fruits that have the highest pigmentations or Phytochemicals- darker, richer colors - have the highest levels of antioxidants
Red fruits including Tomatoes, Berries, Red Cherry, Red watermelons contain antioxidants such as Lycopene, Ellagic acid, Quercetin, and Hesperidin, to name a few. These nutrients reduce the risk of prostate cancer, lower blood pressure, reduce tumor growth and LDL cholesterol levels, scavenge harmful free-radicals, and support join tissue in arthritis cases. Resveratrol found in the skin of red grapes and raspberries and a constituent of red wine has been demonstrated to have an anti-clotting effect that prevents the formation of thrombi or blood clots in the blood vessels, apart from its effect in slowing down aging and killing cancer cells. Mangoes, Pumpkin, Persimmon, Carrots, Pineapple, Musk Melon, Papaya, and other Orange and yellow citrus fruits and vegetables contain beta-carotene, zeaxanthin, flavonoids, lycopene, potassium, and vitamin C.
These nutrients reduce age-related macula degeneration and the risk of prostate cancer, lower LDL cholesterol and blood pressure, promote collagen formation and healthy joints, improve vision, encourage alkaline balance, and work with magnesium and calcium to build healthy bones. White fruits such Banana, White Nectarines, Pears, White peaches, White dates contain nutrients such as beta-glucans, EGCG, SDG, and lignans that provide powerful immune boosting activity. Blue in blueberries contain a compound anthocyanin which makes the wild blueberry a potent ally in the fight against diseases of aging. Green fruits contain varying amounts of phytochemicals such as Lutein and Indoles and Chlorophylls (Kiwi fruit). The phytochemical beta-sitosterol in green avocados is known to lower cholesterol.
Therefore my recommendation is to replace at least one daily meal, preferably the breakfast, with a bowl of nutritious fruits mixed with nuts. That itself can work wonders in your health profile. Remember, in health, a kilo lost may be a year gained. Bypassing this advice can hasten you to a heart bypass. Fatten your food with fruits to stay juicy and juvenile.
Beta-glucan- a natural gum polysaccharides found in cereal fibers, such as oats, wheat, and barley, has been found to effectively reduce cholesterol levels in many research studies.
EGCG- EpiGallo Catechin-3-Gallate - Antioxidant found in green tea as well is a major cancer and heart disease fighter
Ellagic acid- a Polyphenol found in numerous fruits and vegetables including, Raspberries, Strawberries, Cranberries, pomegranate, and other plant foods.
Hesperidin- a Flavanoid Glycoside found abundantly in Citrus fruits which contribute to the integrity of the blood vessels. Hesperidin, along with other bioflavanoids, can improve health of capillaries and connective tissues.
Indole-3-carbinol- One of the major proven anti-cancer substances found in Cruciferous vegetables (Cabbage, Cauli Flower and Broccoli). Highest concentration is in Broccoli which makes it the ruling king of all vegetables.
Lutein plus zeaxanthin are antioxidants in the carotenoid family. They are naturally occurring, fat soluble pigments in plants. The nutrient is high in dark green leafy vegetables such as spinach, turnip greens.
Lignans are actually antioxidant and phytoestrogens found in a variety of plants, which includes flax seeds, pumpkin seeds, rye, soybeans, broccoli and some berries.
Lycopene-a bright red carotenoid pigment found in Tomatoes and Red fruits. It is a most potent carotenoid antioxidant widely discussed in health circles. Lycopene in tomato paste is four times more bioavailable than in fresh tomatoes.
Quercetin - a flavonoid and more specifically a flavonol found in Apple, green tea , broccoli, red grapes Onion etc which has demonstrated Anti-inflammatory and Anti-tumor properties
SDG- Secoisolariciresinol diglucoside - found in flax seeds also. SDG has antioxidant properties, can lower blood cholesterol levels, and is being investigated for its influence on some cancers, atherosclerosis and diabetes.