To gain any benefit from eating fruits and vegetables, you have to eat at least five servings per day — anything less offers little or no benefit. Ten servings are optimal for most people, and 15 servings are best for the elderly.
The reason we need to eat so many fruits and vegetables is because the nutrients — including flavonoids and polyphenols — are enclosed within a tough cell wall, and human beings do not have the right enzymes to dissolve these coverings.
This means that you have to chew the vegetables until they are a fine mush, cook them, or blenderize them. Most people don’t chew their food enough.
Studies have shown that we absorb about 20 to 30 percent of the nutrients when we eat raw vegetables. At that low rate of absorption, our bodies don’t get enough from the vegetables we eat — which is why we need so many servings per day. But of course, it’s not easy to eat 10 to 15 servings of fruits and vegetables every day.
However, if you blenderize your vegetables (grind them up in a blender), you can absorb about 80 to 90 percent of the nutrients, meaning you can get the optimal nutrition in about five servings. In my studies of people who have survived advanced cancers, most either juiced or blenderized their vegetables. The same is true for preventing cardiovascular diseases.
Those with the highest nutrient content (nutrient density) are the cruciferous vegetables:
• Brussels sprouts
When people limited their intake of these vegetables, there was a dramatic increase in the incidence of cardiovascular diseases and cancer.
Studies that compared intake of cruciferous vegetables to less nutrient-dense vegetables found a dramatic difference in cancer incidence, especially breast cancer, lung cancer, and colon cancer.
One Finnish study of men and women found that death from heart attacks and the incidence of heart disease were significantly reduced in those with the highest intake of flavonoid-containing foods such as fruits and vegetables.
Women who ate the most fruits and vegetables reduced their risk of heart disease by 31 percent, and cut their risk of dying from a heart attack by 41 percent. For the men, high intake of vegetables reduced the risk of coronary artery disease by 25 percent and the risk of dying from a heart attack by 33 percent.
These benefits equal or exceed the benefits of statin drugs.
Another interesting study, in which 34,492 postmenopausal women were examined over a 10-year period, found that broccoli intake correlated strongly with a reduction in deaths from heart disease.
The women with the highest broccoli intake had a 38 percent reduction in heart attack deaths — exceeding the highly touted benefits of statin drugs.
Newer studies have shown that one of the components of broccoli, a compound called indole-3-carbinol, also protects the heart muscle and reduces heart failure.
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