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Fruits, Roots and Vegies
the healthy choice - so have your fill

Sorry, folks - this is going to be a rather long one. It's your choice if you wish to plod through; or you might prefer to skim and scan, just pausing at those inclusions you'd like to know more about. Even then, they will only be brief descriptions; but hopefully there will be enough info to cover some of the main benefits of the individual items.

We are only as healthy as the food we eat, and sticking to a regular balanced diet seems the way to go. My personal daily inclusion - apart from the odd pizza - is a serve of five vegies with the meat; and I've found that if I don't have them, I am very lethargic next day. As for fruit, I'm not a fan; but then, picking it seven days a week kind-of put me off. Mind you, lemon meringue pie continues to be my saving excuse. There is, however, little doubt that for most, a daily serve of fruit is a refreshing, beneficial experience.

Our current research was littered with references to "free radicals" which sounded like recalcitrant anarchists running riot in the body; but I've never seen a free radical, or the boogey man, so I can't attest to the existence of either. Following, however, are some of the more popular in the fruits, roots, and vegies departments; along with their individual claims to fame health-wise. These protagonists, at least, are pick-able, touchable and edible; and no home should be without some.


An apple a day keeps the doctor away would seem to be no rash statement. Apples contain vitamins C, B6, K, and riboflavin; a number of minerals including potassium, copper, manganese, and magnesium; plus a string of compounds, the names of which I struggle to pronounce. Still, add to these the dietary fibre - one apple provides 12% of the daily requirement - and it is pretty much a health essential.

There are many claims that apples can help in the cure and prevention of stomach disorders, anemia, diabetes, rheumatism and even cancer, and I don't doubt they are true to a degree; but my favourite is the suggestion that they aid concentration and stop the breakdown of the nerve cells that produce dopamine. That's good news for Alzheimer's and Parkinson's sufferers. And even if it only works a bit; as long as it's tasty, where's the harm in a Golden Delicious or two a day?

Called "all-star" by many, they contain antioxidants (anthocyanins). Not only is this bluey-purple pigment a powerful dye; but it is said to prevent cell damage in the body, and this may be good for reducing the incidence of cancer. These anthocyanins may, just may, protect against heart disease and stroke; not to mention improving learning and memory. We could all probably do with a few of these berries once in a while. I know I could!

Citrus Fruits
Vitamin C is needed for the synthesis of collagen which has numerous healing properties; and citrus has plenty of that. Then there's folate for cell division and DNA synthesis; and we have thiamin which is important for the metabolism. These fruits apparently also contain compounds called flavonoids. Certain studies showed them to improve coronary arterial blood flow, thus reducing the formation of blood clots and the production of "bad" cholesterol. Refreshing and tangy, the different varieties have a host of obvious uses in the kitchen and the bar. And if you're all at sea, get some C - lemons are the thing for preventing scurvy.

Roast turkey wouldn't be the same without cranberry sauce. The deep red berry, however, has more going for it than just the flavour; or, for that matter, the flavonoids it contains. There are also phenolic acids that may be handy as antioxidants which supposedly keep those pesky free radicals at bay. Research is being conducted into the possibility that extracts of this fruit may be later used in cancer treatment.

Oh yeah - strawberry shortcake: I knew there was some reason I thought it was good. Apparently, one cup of these tangy, juicy berries dishes the body up with nearly 3 grams of the soluble fibre that is helpful in lowering "bad" cholesterol. This single cup contributes in excess of 100% of an adult's daily requirement of vitamin C, which is critical to the body's immune system. Hey - lemon meringue pie AND strawberry shortcake: now, that's my idea of double health indemnity!

Stone Fruits
Considering that professional golfers eat them to keep up the potassium levels, you may be wondering why I haven't included bananas on the list. Well, people in colder climes have to rely on imports, and very often these are out of cold store. Because they are picked unripe, they generally taste like soft plastic, have little flavour; and, I suspect, have reduced nutritional value. Forget the banana - go for ripe peaches. Two small ones will give you more potassium than a single banana, and they are juicier. Why do you need potassium anyway? For muscle function, that's why; and peaches are supposed to make the skin healthier and improve eyesight into the bargain.

Then again, you might want to think about munching four or five apricots - they'll give you all the vitamin A you need in a day, plus 20% of your vitamin C. AND, because they are low in calories, fat and sugar they are almost pure weight-watcher sugar boosters minus the actual sugar.

Tomatoes are a versatile fruit that can be eaten cold or hot. Apparently, cooking or stewing can actually increase the effects of some nutrients, and there are plenty of them. Toms are rich in potassium, and they also contain vitamins A,C and E. As for beta-carotene - which is said to protect against cancer, maintains a healthy blood pressure and reduces blood glucose in diabetes sufferers - for some reason there is a higher content of this in cherry tomatoes rather than in the ordinary ones. Another benefit is protection against light-induced eye damage.

Studies have found that many of the health properties of tomatoes are in the skins, which means it's best if they aren't peeled. HOWEVER, they are said to have a very high pesticide residue; so wash them thoroughly before eating.

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