A recent study published in the June 2013 issue of the Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics showed that meeting the 5 A Day for Better Health Program was associated with lower oxidative stress and improved antioxidant status in Premenopausal Women.
What is oxidative stress? It is a condition where overproduction of free radicals and reactive oxygen species causes damage to components of the body, such as DNA, lipids, and proteins. Oxidative stress can be balanced through multiple antioxidant mechanisms which can stabilize reactive oxygen species. Moreover, oxidative stress has been linked to several chronic degenerative diseases.
Fruits and vegetables (F/V) are a rich source of antioxidants, including vitamin C and E, carotenoids, flavonoids, and numerous phytochemicals. The 2010 Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommend increasing the intake of F/V to provide important nutrients, decrease chronic disease risk, and provide low-calorie food choices to maintain healthy weight. The National Cancer Institute 5 A Day For Better health campaign recommends 2.5 cups (5 serving equivalents) of any combination of F/V per day. A vegetable serving is defined as 1 cup raw leafy vegetables, 1/2 cup cooked or other raw veggies, or 1/2 cup vegetable juice. A fruit serving is 1 medium fruit, 1 cup berries or melon, 1/2 cup chopped, cooked, or canned fruit, 1/4 cup dried fruit or 3/4 cup 100% fruit juice.
Therefore, if you are not consuming the recommended 5 A Day, try incorporating more F/V in green salads and mixed dishes as a way to increase your daily servings and potentially reduce oxidative stress and improve your health!