An apple a day may not keep the doctor away: experts. Not all fruits and vegetables are created equal in terms of preventing disease, they note, and people consistently opt for relatively nutrient-poor choices, such as corn, potatoes, iceberg lettuce, apples and bananas.
An apple a day may not keep the doctor away: experts. Not all fruits and vegetables are created equal in terms of preventing disease, they note, and people consistently opt for relatively nutrient-poor choices, such as corn, potatoes, iceberg lettuce, apples and bananas. Research suggests that people get the most disease-fighting benefits if they opt for so-called “powerhouse” choices that are rich in vitamins, beta carotene and fiber, such as dark green and leafy vegetables, carrots and cauliflower. “When we look at how to get the most bang for your buck, the most power, it’s by eating these other fruits and vegetables instead of the traditional choices,” study author Dr. Marilyn S. Nanney said in a statement. She added that the best way to keep track of which fruits and vegetables are better than others at preventing cancer, heart disease and other ailments is to separate them by color. For instance: White: Opt for cauliflower more often than potatoes, onions or mushrooms. Green: Select dark lettuces, spinach, broccoli and Brussels sprouts, which are healthier than iceberg lettuce and green beans. Yellow and Orange: Choose carrots, winter squashes, sweet potatoes, cantaloupe, oranges and grapefruit more often than corn or bananas. Red: Eat tomatoes, red peppers and strawberries instead of apples. So why the confusion? In the Journal of the American Dietetic Association, Nanney and her colleagues write that people often choose the wrong fruits and vegetables because they get the wrong information about what they should eat. For instance, the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Food Guide Pyramid provides only “general guidance” about diet, Nanney and her team write. The pyramid recommends at least 5 servings of fruits and vegetables per day, and says little about which provide the most disease-fighting benefits.The “5 A Day The Color Way” program, a revised form of a national program designed to help prevent cancer, includes recommendations for specific vegetables in the dark and leafy category, and which yellow or orange fruits and vegetables people should choose, but includes no guidelines on which cruciferous foods are better than others. And while the American Cancer Society, the American Heart Association and the American Institute of Cancer Research all recommend a variety of fruits and vegetables, none say which fruits and vegetables work best at warding off disease. “People are quite frankly confused about nutrition,” said Nanney, who is based at St. Louis University in Missouri. “I feel their pain,” she added. (Source: Journal of the American Dietetic Association: Reuters Health: March 2004.)