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Vegetables, Fruits, and Herbs in Health Promotion

September 11, 2000

Complete Document

Detail Summary

Active, Most Current

Additional Comments:
ISBN: 978-0-8493-0038-7
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Product Details:

  • Revision: September 11, 2000
  • Published Date: September 11, 2000
  • Status: Active, Most Current
  • Document Language: English
  • Published By: CRC Press (CRC)
  • Page Count: 362
  • ANSI Approved: No
  • DoD Adopted: No

Description / Abstract:


Diet and nutrition are vital keys to controlling morbidity and mortality from chronic diseases affecting humankind. The multitude of biomolecules in dietary vegetables play a crucial role in health maintenance. They should be more effective than a few nutrients in supplements. For decades, it has been appreciated that oxidative pathways can lead to tissue damage and contribute to pathology. Fortunately, nature has provided us with mechanisms found predominately in plants to defend against such injury. Antioxidant nutritional agents have consequently attracted major attention and rightfully deserve to be studied carefully for possible beneficial roles. One of the main reasons for the interest in antioxidant agents in dietary vegetables, and their products, is their virtually complete lack of harmful side effects. This stands in stark contrast to many drugs that are promoted and studied for possible diseasepreventive activity.

The subject of foods and nutritional agents in disease prevention is often associated with strong emotional responses. How could agents that have a near absence of any side effects be health promoting in patients with disease or cancer? Studies have been conducted by respected scientists in a number of important disease entities, ranging from cancer and heart disease to eye disease. These have included general health maintenance such as infection prevention in the elderly.

The long-recognized role of vegetables in cancer prevention is expanded with the understanding of carcinogenesis. Constituents with anticancer activities, phytochemicals, are described in prevention. Bioavailability of important constituents plays a key role in their effectiveness. Their role as well as that of whole vegetables in gastrointestinal disease, heart disease, and old age are defined. Each vegetable contains thousands of different biomolecules, each with the potential to promote health or retard disease and cancer. By use of vegetable extracts as well as increased consumption of whole plants, people can dramatically expand their exposure to protective chemicals and thus readily reduce their risk of multiple diseases. Specific foods, tomatoes, raw vegetables, and Japanese vegetables and byproducts are novel biomedicines with expanded understanding and use. Damage due to UV irradiation is the major cause of skin cancer and skin damage in most American adults. Herbal and dietary vegetables are becoming better understood and are now used in prevention of skin damage and cancer, as well as for eye disease. While vegetables and their products are readily available, there are important legal questions relating to marketing of foods with health claims. Use of specific dietary materials has reduced disease for centuries and a prime example, the Mediterranean diet, is described along with a developing understanding of its mechanisms of action. Use of vegetables and their specific constituents is the most readily available approach to health promotion in the hands of the general public.

The National Cancer Institute reports that only 18% of adults meet the recommended intake of vegetables. While Americans eat 4.1 portions of vegetables, approaching the desired 5 portions per day, much of this is peeled potatoes with little nutritional or biological benefits. Unfortunately, 40%, rather than 25%, of calories come from fat and sugar added to foods. Increased vegetable consumption and use of their extracts should dramatically reduce major dietary risk factors for cancer and heart disease. Thus, greater consumption of a variety of vegetables and fruits will lower use of meat, margarine, sugar, and fat. A better understanding of the role of vegetables and fruits in health promotion will encourage research for altered lifestyles, thus decreasing disease and cancer while lengthening longevity.