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Five-a-Day health program focuses on adding more fruits and vegetables to daily diet

The "5-A-Day for Better Health Program" is a national program to encourage all Americans to eat five to nine servings of fruits and vegetables every day for good health.

Eating five to nine servings of fruits and vegetables a day provides a variety of health benefits. Fruits and vegetables are rich in vitamin C, vitamin A, fiber and other nutrients and contain hundreds of phytochemicals. Along with physical activity and maintaining a healthy weight, eating five to nine servings of fruits and vegetables a day promotes good health and reduces the risk of cancer, heart disease, hypertension, stroke, diabetes, and other chronic diseases.

The national "5-A-Day for Better Health Program," established in 1991 as a partnership between the National Cancer Institute and the Produce for Better Health Foundation, is the largest public-private partnership for nutrition and health in the United States and in the world.

All national health authorities recommend eating five to nine servings of fruit and vegetables every day to promote good health and reduce the risk of cancer, heart disease and other chronic diseases. Research shows that people who eat five or more servings of fruits and vegetables every day have half the risk of cancer and one-third the risk of heart disease compared to people who eat fewer fruits and vegetables.

Fruits and vegetables promote better health because they contain vitamin A, vitamin C, fiber and other essentials nutrients. Additionally, they are low in fat and calories and contain no cholesterol. Fruits and vegetables also contain many non-nutrient plant compounds called phytochemicals that may provide additional protection to help reduce the risk of cancer and heart disease.

Researchers are continually investigating the numerous health-protecting properties of the phytochemicals in fruits and vegetables. Phytochemicals are substances produced by plants that help to protect them from insects, diseases and other threats to their health. These same substances help to protect human health. While more than 4,000 phytochemicals have been identified, fewer than 200 phytochemicals have been studied extensively.

Fruits and vegetables in their natural form are almost all very low in calories and fat. There are a few exceptions, such as the avocado. What is more significant, in terms of making fruits and vegetables high in fat and calories, is the way we prepare them. Choose methods of cooking other than frying. Even better, eat fruits and vegetables uncooked whenever possible.

There is an abundance of research on the health benefits of eating a diet rich in fruits and vegetables. To reap the known and yet-to-be-discovered health benefits of fruits and vegetables eat a wide variety and eat five to nine servings a day.

Web posted on Thursday, July 13, 2006

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