If you want to protect your health and lower your risk of certain diseases, you should make a variety of fruits and vegetables a part of your daily diet. The more fruits and vegetables you consume each day, the more you can lower your risk of heart attack and stroke. The dietary fiber in fruits and vegetables keeps your digestive system running smoothly, and the vitamins, minerals and antioxidants lower your risk of eye problems and cancer.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, carrots are an excellent source of vitamin A. The United States Department of Agriculture says that one serving of baby carrots provides you with 190 percent of the daily value recommended for the vitamin. Vitamin A promotes good vision at night and in areas of low light. It helps protect against infection because it supports the cells of the skin and those lining the air passages and the digestive and urinary tracts, according to the Linus Pauling Institute at Oregon State University.
Dietary fiber can assist you in your quest to stay healthy. It helps to keep your digestive system working efficiently, and it can lower your risk of heart disease, diabetes and obesity, says the Mayo Clinic. One cup of boiled broccoli gives you 5.1 grams of total fiber. According to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, adults and children ages 4 and over need 25 grams of fiber each day. That cup of broccoli, therefore, provides about 20 percent of the daily value of total fiber.
According to the United States Department of Agriculture, one medium-sized orange provides 120 percent of the daily value of vitamin C and 3 grams of dietary fiber. In addition, oranges contain antioxidants that protect against oxidative stress, the damage to cells and tissues brought about by harmful free radicals. In an article that appeared in the April 2010 issue of "The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition," researchers showed that orange juice could prevent the oxidative stress normally caused by consumption of a high-fat, high-carbohydrate meal.
Phytochemicals are plant-derived compounds that offer certain health benefits, such as reduced inflammation in the body. Many of these compounds are found in the skin of an apple. According to an article in the Oct. 1, 2012 issue of "Time" magazine, apples are also a good source of fiber. Apples contain the soluble fiber pectin, which may be useful in lowering your blood level of LDL, the "bad" cholesterol.
Robert DiPardo has been a pharmaceutical chemist for more than 30 years. He has co-authored several scientific publications on cardiovascular disease, osteoarthritis, Alzheimer's disease and other therapeutic areas. DiPardo retired from drug discovery research in 2009 and, since 2010, has covered fitness and well-being for various online publications. DiPardo holds a Master of Science in organic chemistry from Yale University.