Friday, August 8, 2008

Fruits and Vegetables: Phytonutrients - Back to Nature

Phytochemicals are the future (and the past) for healthy living. Many people get phytonutrients everyday and don't even know it. Our parents and their parents always said, "Eat your vegetables! They are good for you." But no one really knew why, until now.

We now know that the active substances in fruits, vegetables, grains and legumes help prevent disease and cancer. The very substances that are responsible for their color, flavor and disease resistance help keep us healthy.

How simplistic is that? That the natural food, not processed, not enriched with chemicals, steroids or artificial anything, is what we need to eat to remain as healthy as can be. Back to nature equals back to simplicity. We need to slow down and weed our gardens. Our fast-paced lives have developed into fast-paced eating, which leads to foods that are, essentially, unhealthy. You can help counteract unhealthy foods by eating fresh produce. And unlike vitamins and minerals, phytochemicals do not appear to diminish when subjected to cooking or processing.

No matter how big your yard is, no matter how little time you have, no matter how little money you have; you can have a garden. Trust me, I have no extra time to speak of and I have a good-sized garden. It basically takes care of itself.

Plant a few tomato plants, a couple cucumber vines, some carrots and watermelons; water as often as you need, and you my friend, are on your way. If you plant the seeds, they will grow. Your body will thank you when you cook with fresh produce. You will reap the benefits emotionally, as well, as physically. They say that gardening is good for mental stimulation and uses every muscle group.

Phytonutrients: they have a name for everything, don't they? All I know is, I have learned to love my fruits and vegetables for the sake of my health and that of my family. I have grown to love my garden, even when it is full of weeds to be pulled. And, best of all, I have taught my children that cooking with ingredients we have grown in our yard is as easy as pie.

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