Every day, we are confronted with a myriad of food choices. I am sure you know oily fries, cheesy pizzas, and greasy burgers are definitely not at the top range of nutritious foods. On the other hand, fruits, whole grains, and vegetables bring heaps of life preserving, health-giving nutrients to our bodies.
The origin of the word “vegetable” comes from the Latin “vegetare”, meaning “to enliven or animate”. It is certainly appropriate, as there is growing evidence that the nutrients contained in vegetables can help prevent, and even treat, many diseases. Scientific tests have shown encouraging results for treatment and prevention of chronic degenerative diseases such as arthritis, diabetes, cancer, and heart disease. Vegetables provide the broadest range of nutrients, including carotenes, fiber and phytochemicals of all food types. Besides, they are also a rich source of vitamins, minerals, carbohydrates, and even protein (soy). Vegetables have minimal fat and even when they do, it is usually in the form of essential fatty acids.
Fruits, in general, are an excellent source of many important antioxidant nutrients and phytochemicals, i.e. Vitamin C, carotenes, polyphenols, and flavanoids. Fruits also contain natural fiber, which helps clear toxins from our bodies. However, fruits do contain a fair amount of fruit sugars (i.e. fructose). For the same weight, fructose is also 1.5 times sweeter than sucrose (white sugar). Our bodies handle fructose differently from sucrose. For our bodies to use fructose (fruit sugar), it has to be changed to glucose by the liver. As a result, blood sugar (glucose) levels do not rise as rapidly after fructose consumption compared to other simple sugars. Consuming sucrose (white sugar) results in an immediate rise in blood sugar levels. Most diabetics cannot tolerate sucrose, but most can handle moderate amounts of fruit (and fructose) while their bodies can still control the blood sugar levels. In fact, fruits have a lower glycemic index than white bread and other refined carbohydrates.
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