Fruits and vegetables are the original fast foods and are packed with fiber and nutrients. The color in fruits and vegetables is created by flavonoids, which science is discovering are amazing promoters of health. Different colors represent different nutrients and benefits. Colorful fruits and vegetables are wonderful. For example, purple, red and blue fruits or vegetables are rich in phytochemicals called “anthocyanins,” which help get rid of free-radical damage in the body and the brain. Orange, yellow and green vegetables are rich in stress-lowering carotenoids. One study found that some of these carotenoids, such as beta-carotene, when consumed on a regular basis, actually have a stress hormone-lowering effect, so enjoy eating your fruits and vegetables in a rainbow of colors every day.

Fruits and vegetables are truly lifesaving. The World Health Organization states that up to 2.7 million lives could be saved annually with sufficient fruit and vegetable consumption. Low fruit and vegetable intake are among the top ten risk factors attributable to early mortality, according to evidence presented in the World Health Report 2002.

There are many benefits to eating our vegetables, and science is discovering more all the time. A study was done on Chinese women in Singapore, a city in which pollution levels are often high. This pollution creates extra stress on the cleaning capacity of people’s lungs. The study found that in non-smokers, eating cruciferous vegetables lowered their risk of lung cancer by 30%. In smokers, regularly eating cruciferous vegetables reduced lung cancer risk by an amazing 69%. This study clearly illustrates cruciferous vegetables’ amazing ability to help protect the body.

Many studies have been done on specific fruits and, as with vegetables, more is continually being discovered. For example, one fruit that has received great attention is the grape. Much of this attention has come from the apparent positive effects that drinking wine has on heart disease. The great news is that beneficial flavonoids that fight heart disease are found in the grape itself. By drinking grape juice, you can get the benefits from the grapes and avoid the damaging effects of alcohol, such as addiction, cirrhosis and increased risk of cancers. A study published in Lancet found that high intakes of flavonoids predicted lower mortality from coronary heart disease and lower incidence of heart attacks.

“An apple a day keeps the doctor away.” – Benjamin Franklin

The latest research reveals that the old saying, is in fact, not folklore. Some of the nutritional stars in the apple — fiber and flavonoids — translate into the apple’s ability to keep us healthy. A large review, including over 85 studies, found that regularly eating apples is the strongest association with a reduced risk of cancer, heart disease, asthma and type 2 diabetes when compared to other fruits and vegetables. Additionally, apple intake was associated with increased lung function and increased weight loss.

Another reason apples are so good for you is they are also an excellent source of antioxidants. When compared to other commonly consumed fruits in the United States, they were found to have the second highest level of antioxidant activity (cranberries have the highest). Apples can also help protect you from radiation. Researchers have found that the phenols in the skin of sun-kissed Raeburn apples provide a hefty dose of UV-B protection. It’s best to eat the whole apple including the peel. Beneficial nutrients are lost when an apple is peeled.