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Take charge of your health: Take 5 a day'

By By Patty Swearingen / MSU extension service county director
Feb. 29, 2004
This week I thought we would talk about "Take 5 a Day."
Fruits and vegetables are loaded with vitamins and fiber. Researchers have compared eating habits of those with and without a variety of cancers.
They found that those who ate the least amount of fruits and vegetables were about twice as likely to have some types of cancer than those who ate the most.
They said an increase in consumption of high-fiber fruits and vegetables, coupled with a low-fat diet, had been shown to lower blood fat, reduce blood pressure, and lower the risk of heart disease and many cancers.
It is no longer just a maybe. People who eat greater amounts of fruits and vegetables have lower rates of some cancers.
Let's look at some of the benefits of each vitamin.
Vitamin C: It's very important in the proper construction of collagen. Vitamin C strengthens the immune system. It helps protect against cancer and heart disease, and aids in wound healing.
Vitamin A: Helps prevent premature aging and protects the heart and arteries.
Vitamin E: Vitamin E is needed for a healthy heart and circulation. It's needed for proper growth and may help with repair of skin. It helps protect against contaminants from the environment.
Some good sources of vitamins A, C, and E are as follows:
Vitamin A: carrots, cabbage, greens, winter squash, sweet potatoes, tomatoes, cantaloupe, pumpkin, broccoli and apricots.
Vitamin C: berries, tropical fruits, peppers and most fresh fruits and vegetables.
Vitamin E: peas, beans, whole grains, green leafy vegetables, wheat germ and fish.
You might wonder just what is a serving? One serving is equal to 1⁄2 cup fruit or cooked vegetable, 3⁄4 cup of juice, 1 cup of raw leafy greens, 1⁄4 cup of dried fruit or 1 medium piece of fruit.
The main thing to remember is by adding these to your diet you will have the ability to help lower cholesterol, lessen the risk of heart disease, and lessen premature aging. So make sure you are getting at least five servings a day.
If you would like more information on "Take 5 a Day" please call the Extension Office at 482-9764.