The New Times (Kigali)

Rwanda: Why Are Fruits and Vegetables So Important to Your Health?

A diet rich in fruits and vegetables reduces your risk for diabetes; cancers of the colon, stomach and mouth; kidney stones; high blood pressure; and coronary heart disease, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA).

Vegetables are naturally low-fat, low-calorie and cholesterol-free. They are good sources of potassium, folate--or folic acid, dietary fiber and vitamins A, C and E.Potassium helps maintain healthy blood pressure. Fiber helps reduce cholesterol and could lower your risk for heart disease, as well as promote healthy bowel function.

Folate aids in the formation of red blood cells. Vitamins A and E are essential for skin and eye health and for fighting infection. Vitamin C promotes healthy gums and teeth, helps bruises and cuts heal, and facilitates the absorption of iron.

Fruits are naturally low-fat, low-calorie, and low in sodium and cholesterol. Fiber, folate, vitamin C and potassium are among the many nutrients contained in fruits. Good fruit sources of potassium are bananas, prunes, raisins, honeydew, cantaloupe, dried apricots and peaches, and orange juice.

According to the USDA, the daily recommended servings of fruits and vegetables are set according to age, sex and activity level. Women 19 and over require two cups of vegetables, with two cups of fruits for women age 19 to 30. Women over 30 require one and a half cups of fruit.

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