Stock Up on Produce for Healthy Teeth and Eyes

Recognizing Fruit and Veggies – More Matters Month, September 2011

Fruits & Veggies

Eating a variety of fruits and vegetables supplies your body with the vitamins, minerals, fiber and antioxidants you need to boost your immune system and maintain a healthy body. Not surprisingly, nine out of 10 Americans do not enjoy as many fruits and vegetables as they should.

To maintain healthy teeth and gums, nutritionists and health experts frequently remind us about the importance of consuming fruits and vegetables rich in lutein zeaxanthin, bioflavonoids, vitamin D and antioxidants such as vitamins A and E. Here are some examples:

  • Vegetables
    • Kale, Swiss chard, spinach and collards improve vision and reduce the risk of age-related macular degeneration as well as defend the eyes from ultraviolet radiation
    • Carrots help prevent night blindness, reduce the risk of cataracts and macular degeneration and increase the flow of cleansing saliva
  • Fruits
    • Crunchy fruits, such as apples, increase the flow of saliva to refresh your mouth
    • Berries are high in antioxidants that help to reduce the risk of macular degeneration
    • Natural juices in fruits can help dislodge food particles and clean your teeth and gums

We’ve always been told we should eat at least five servings of fruits and vegetables each day, but that can vary with age and dietary needs. To help figure it out, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, along with other like-minded organizations, launched a new website. It’s called fruitsandveggiesmatter.gov and it can calculate how many servings you need based on your age, gender and physical activity.

The next time you’re at the grocery store or farmer’s market, try a new fruit or vegetable in addition to consuming a variety of produce items you already enjoy. Consider planting a garden next year. And when you drink juice, select the brands that are made with 100 percent real fruits and vegetables. This helps you get your suggested daily servings and it’s easy to drink on the go.

Do you eat five portions of fruits and vegetables every day? What is your favorite fruit or vegetable? – Karen Gustin, Ameritas Group