Phytochemicals are chemicals produced by plants. They are substances that limit the growth of cancer cells. It is believed that the phytochemicals found in strawberries, blueberries, and spinach have the power to increase "cell membrane fluidity"(1). This would also nutrients to easily pass through the cells. Phytochemicals can aid in the prevention and treatment of diabetes, cardiovascular disease, high blood pressure and cancer (4). Different fruits and vegetables are believed to fight off different types of cancer.
Types of Phytochemicals
Antioxidants are molecules that neutralize free radicals. Free radicals are molecules that are missing an electron. This gives them a strong electronegativity or want to fill their electron shell. To complete their shell and become positive, free radicals will take an electron from another molecule or give an electron to another molecule. The molecule that gained or loss an electron is now a free radical. This is called oxidation. The new free radical now looks to make itself positive. It finds another molecule and completes oxidation. This sets off a chain reaction which can harm many molecules. Antioxidants stop this chain reaction from taking place. Some antioxidants give the free radicals an electron. Others destroy the free radical (5). Free radicals can cause a variety of negative effects, so it is important to get rid of them. Fruits and vegetables are known for their antioxidants.
Fruits and Vegetables are loaded with vitamins! If you do not know the importance of vitamins, check out Big Cat's vitamin articles:
Here are some examples of common fruits vitamin contents.
|Fruit (100 grams)||A IU||C mg||B1 mg||B2 mg||B6 mg||E IU|
To see more fruits vitamin content, go here: http://www.thefruitpages.com/contents.shtml
Fiber is an indigestible complex carbohydrate. It cannot be absorbed by the body, and therefore has no calories. Fiber is known to clean out the digestive system. It makes waste pass through the colon quickly, which is why it helps constipation. It also has cancer fighting properties. It is recommended that adults get 20-35 grams of fiber every day (6).
Here is the amount of fiber in popular fruits and vegetables:
Fruit or Vegetable Amount of Fiber
- Apple 5 (per medium apple)
- Banana 4 (per medium banana)
- Broccoli 5 (per medium stalk)
- Carrot 2 (per medium carrot)
- Corn 3 (per medium ear)
- Grapefruit 12 (per medium grapefruit)
- Orange 3 (per medium orange)
- Peach 2 (per medium peach)
- Pear 3 (per medium pear)
- Potato 3 (per medium potato)
- Tomato 2 (per medium tomato)
Fruits and vegetables should be a part of everyone's daily diet. If you do not like eating fruits and vegetables, found some that you do like. I do not really like tomatoes, but I put them, along with lettuce, on all my sandwiches. Besides being extremely healthy, some fruits and vegetables are easy to carry around. This means you can take one with you when you go out. Oranges and bananas work great for this. Throw one in your car, then when you want to eat it, just peel it. So the next time your mom makes vegetables, eat them. And if you see your mom has not finished all of her vegetables, explain to her why she needs to eat them.
(1) Joseph, J.A., Shukitt-Hale B., Denisova, N.A. Bielinski D., Martin, A., McEwen, J.J., and Bickford, P.C. "reversal of Age-Related Declines in the Neuronal Signal Transduction, Cognitive, and Motor Behavioral Deficits with Blueberry, Spinach, or Strawberry Dietary Supplementation," Journal of Neuroscience, September 15, 1999, Vol. 19, No. 18. pp. 8114- 8121.
(3) Blueberry Nutrition and Nutraceutical Potential http://www.webcom.com/bberry/nutr_studies.html
(4) Sereana Howard Dresbach, Amy Rossi. 1996. Phytochemicals, vitamins of the future? http://ohioline.osu.edu/hyg-fact/5000/5050.html
(5) "Antioxidant," Microsoftï¿½ Encartaï¿½ Encyclopedia 99. ï¿½ 1993-1998 Microsoft Corporation.