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Fruits and vegetables containing antioxidants help protect us from diseases like cancer and diabetes, to name just a couple. Many people fail to eat the recommended five to ten daily servings and miss out
on those disease-fighting benefits.
If you aren't already getting enough in your daily diet, boost your intake of fruits and vegetables easily by starting your day with fruit in your oatmeal or shake. Add beans and vegetables to your regular meals. If you're short on time, use frozen mixed vegetables.
Buy prewashed salads and include at least one salad in your diet every day. Explore your supermarket. Try different fruits and vegetables every week instead of eating the same things all the time. Not only will you be providing your body with nutrients it needs to build a healthy physique, you might just find some new favorites.
Overall, the best fruit choices are berries (especially darker, more richly colored varieties) and citrus fruits. Tropical fruits such as kiwis, guavas and passion fruit are close behind.
Unfortunately, berries are often expensive (more than $3 for a little box) and don't keep well (watch out for mold). When they're out of season, buy them frozen to add to oatmeal or even salads.
Kale and spinach score well, but lettuce is not on the list because it is mostly cellulose and water. Again, bright color is a good sign, since most antioxidants are brightly colored compounds (hence the success of beets and red bell peppers). About 80% of the antioxidant power of fruits and vegetables comes from a diverse array of chemicals called flavonoids, with vitamin C contributing only 20%. In fact, antioxidants work best in combination anyway, so eat a rainbow of fruits and vegetables to get a full spectrum of antioxidants: red bell peppers, yellow corn, green broccoli, blueberries, purple eggplant and blackberries.
Young adults achieve optimal antioxidant status by eating about nine servings of fruits and vegetables, and older adults can use as many as 11 servings. Extracts (e.g., Super Juice) may be used to bring you up to nine servings if you're not a fruit or vegetable fan.