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LSU AgCenter Nutritionist Stresses Fruits And Vegetables To Fight Disease

Most people do not consume adequate amounts of fruits and vegetables. Yet, these foods are important weapons against chronic disease, according to LSU AgCenter nutritionist Dr. Heli Roy.

"Fruits and vegetables, and whole grains, have many phytochemicals that help ward off and eliminate cancer-causing free radicals," Roy says.

The new Dietary Guidelines 2005 recommend consuming an increased amount of fruits and vegetables. They recommend 4 1/2 cups (nine servings) of fruits

and vegetables at the reference 2,000-calorie level, with higher or lower amounts depending on calorie intake. Between 1,200 and 3,200 calories per day, consume 2 1/2 to 6 1/2 cups (5-13 servings) of fruits and vegetables daily.

Roy says fruits and vegetables provide a variety of micronutrients and fiber. She recommends in the fruit group to consume whole fruits (fresh, frozen, canned and dried) rather than fruit juice for the majority of the total daily amount to ensure adequate fiber intake. Citrus fruits, kiwi fruit, strawberries and cantaloupe are good sources of vitamin C.

Different vegetables are rich in different nutrients. The new USDA Food Guide recommends weekly amounts of the following for a 2,000-calorie level diet: 3 cups of dark green vegetables, 2 cups of orange vegetables, 3 cups of legumes (dry beans), 3 cups of starchy vegetables and 6 1/2 cups of other vegetables.

Carrots, sweet potatoes and pumpkin are excellent sources of vitamin A. Dry beans and peas, oranges and orange juice, and dark green leafy vegetables like spinach contain folate.

The new guidelines also suggest consuming adequate amount of potassium, which is found in white and sweet potatoes, cooked greens, bananas, dry beans, soybeans, tomato products and beet greens.

Roy adds that the DASH (Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension) Eating Plan, too, advises increasing consumption of dark green vegetables, orange vegetables and legumes as part of an overall regimen to eat fruits and vegetables.

For information on related family and consumer topics, visit the FCS Web site. For local information and educational programs, contact an extension agent in your parish LSU AgCenter office.

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