A recent front page article in Reader's Digest is certainly ripe for controversy. Instead of inflamming the controversy, let's twist the discussion and extoll the numerous benefits of fruits and vegetables.
Pills cannot replicate fruits and vegetables...period. This may come as a surprise to many people. Plants make an endless array of compounds that have biological activity in the human body. So far, only a tiny minority have been highlighted to provide health benefits - vitamin A, vitamin C, zinc, etc. But scientists are finding that there are hundres more compounds found in plants - so-called phytonutrients - which are fast becoming a hotbed of nutritional and medical research.
The benefits of eating fruits and vegetables come from eating combinagtions of compounds that work together. When you eat tomatoes or carrots, nature has combined numerous carotenoids (antioxidant pigments) to provide health benefits including boosting your natural immune system. Supplemental pills are poorly designed and do not contain the plethora of compounds that synergistically work together. Moreover, the synthetic nutrients in pills aren't wholly absorbed in our bodies so you are only getting a fraction of what you swallow.
A recent national survey showed that fewwer than 1 in 3 of us gets 5 servings of fruits and vegetables per day. But the benefits of eatings fruits and vegetables are enormous:
Fruits and Vegetables Prevent Cardiovascular Disease. Several large, long-term studies show that top fruits and vegetable consumption (5 a day) can equate to a 15% reduction in heart attacks and a 30% reduction in stroke. One extra serving of fruits or veggie per day can decrease your chance of a stroke by 6%!
...Reduce the Prevalance of Eye Diseases - macular degeneration and cataracts.
...Protect against Cancer. Some estimate the reduction to be as much as 50% in most forms of cancer if everyone ate 5 servings per day.
Are vitamins a scam? It depends. They can be inexpensive insurance. But we have grown accustomized to having pills substitute for a healthy diet. We all know people who eat poorly, but take numerous pills to compensate for their insufficient diet. Pills cannot replicate the multitude of protective nutrients in plants. Enjoy the tastiness from Nature whether its whole grains loaded with B-vitamins and minerals, spices having potent antioxidants or fruits and veggies loaded with protective vitamins and phytonutriets. Mom was right, an apple a day can help keep the doctor away.