Entries in Fruits (7)


USDA: Farmers Markets Thrive on Higher Demand for Local Produce

Jupiterimages/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- Growing demand for locally grown fruits and vegetables has resulted in a big jump in the number of farmers markets. The U.S. Department of Agriculture says the number of farmers markets increased nearly 10 percent this year to more than 7800 across the country.

The increase is no surprise to farmer Jeff Bialas who has been selling his produce at a Manhattan farmers market for 20 years.

“People are understanding that it's better to eat local,” he said. “The quality of the food is better and you're supporting your neighbors.”

California and New York have the most markets, followed by Massachusetts. The USDA says it noticed significant increases over the last year in the mid-Atlantic and Southeast.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


You Are What Color You Eat?

Hemera/Thinkstock(ST. ANDREWS, Scotland) -- Physicians and parents have emphasized for years the importance of eating a healthy diet that included plenty of colorful fruits and vegetables.  After all, you are what you eat, right?

But what if you are what color you eat? Researchers at St. Andrews University found that increased portions of colorful fruits and vegetables can have an impact on one's appearance and, in fact, enhance their perceived attractiveness.

Fruits and veggies packed with antioxidant-rich carotenoids like carrots or apricots protect skin cells against damage from UV rays, environmental pollution and the elements.  A new study, published in the journal PLoS ONE, highlights the effects these foods can have on the skin's pigmentation.  Furthermore, the study found that people who consume more carotenoids can increase red and yellow pigments in the skin, giving off a perceived healthier glow.

In the following video, Julia Zumpano, R.D. of the Cleveland Clinic tells ABC News about the impact certain foods can have on our pigmentation.

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Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


What Citrus Means for Stroke Risk

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- Eating citrus fruits can be considered a marker of healthy living, and may lessen the risk of stroke, according to research published Thursday in the journal Stroke. But some experts said the numbers in the study didn’t quite add up.

The findings were part of the Nurses’ Health Study, which included nearly 70,000 women who were followed for 14 years, who reported on their fruit and vegetable intake every four years.

Those who reported consuming the greatest amount of citrus fruit had a 19-percent lower chance of having an ischemic stroke, which blocks blood flow to the brain.

The researchers looked for a compound commonly found in citrus fruits, such as oranges and grapefruits, called flavonoids.

The study did not specify how much citrus fruit a woman needed to consume a day to reach the purported flavonoid level of protection.  Neither did it conclude that the more citrus fruit one ate, the less the chance of stroke.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture recommends eating two to four servings of any type of fruit a day.

While the risk of stroke was lower in those who ate citrus fruit, not all of the women’s flavonoid consumption came from citrus fruit. Flavonoids are also found in other types of fruit, vegetables, tea, dark chocolate and red wine.

The study also couldn’t conclude that the lower risk of stroke was necessarily due to the flavonoid found in citrus fruits.

“This study adds absolutely nothing to the relationship between fruit and strokes,” said ABC News’ chief health and medical editor, Dr. Richard Besser. “The conclusions of the study go beyond the data.”

Researchers noted that the women who consumed the most flavonoids smoked less, exercised more and ate better, suggesting they already had an overall healthier lifestyle.

“The things we know that are important for stroke prevention remain,” said Besser.

So researchers looked deeper into a type of flavonoid called flavanones, which are mainly found in citrus juices, oranges and grapefruits.

Researchers are more likely to find a connection the deeper they dig into the data, but the findings are not necessarily significant for women, said Keith Ayoob, director of the nutrition clinic at the Rose F. Kennedy Center at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine.

Previous studies have suggested that vitamin C and potassium, both found in citrus fruits, can also protect against heart disease and stroke, which may have also been figured into  the findings.

“It is impossible to disentangle the relative influence of all the constituents of citrus fruit,” the researchers wrote.

While many Americans get a majority of their daily fruit intake from juices, many experts advise bypassing the juices because of the added sugar and going straight to the source. Even though flavonoids are found in the juice of the fruit, the high number of  calories can offset the nutritional value of the juice, Ayoob said.

“You also lose all the fiber when you go to juice,” said Besser.

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Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Fruits, Veggies Could Modify Gene Linked to Heart Disease

Jeffrey Hamilton/Thinkstock(HAMILTON, Ontario) -- Eating a healthy amount of greens could have an effect on genes linked to heart disease, according to a new study.

Researchers from Canada's McMaster and McGill universities found that eating fruits and vegetables may actually change a gene variant, called 9p21, that is one of the strongest predictors for heart disease.

"We found that in people with this high-risk gene who consumed a diet rich in vegetables and fruits, their risk came down to that of people who don't have that gene," said Dr. Sonia Anand, a lead author and professor of medicine and epidemiology at the Michael G. DeGroote School of Medicine at McMaster University.

The researchers analyzed the diets of more than 27,000 people from different parts of the world who were already enrolled in two separate studies looking at heart disease.

"Despite having a high genetic risk for heart disease, a healthy lifestyle can actually turn off the gene," said Anand. She also said it's not yet clear exactly how diet affects the gene.

The study participants who lowered their risk through their diet ate at least two servings of fruits and vegetables a day. Raw fruits and vegetables played the biggest role in lowering risk, Anand said.

The role of genetics is an expanding area of medical research, and experts believe the next few years will bring new health recommendations based on people's genetic makeup.

"This points the way toward the future and where we're going in terms of understanding the genetics of heart disease," said Dr. William O'Neill, cardiology professor and executive dean of clinical affairs at the University of Miami's Miller School of Medicine. "Maybe in the next few years, we may be able to do specific gene scans on individual patients and if we find the patients who have genetic high risk, we really want to concentrate on modifying risk by targeting smoking, cholesterol and diet."

And that could be reassuring for many people with genetic susceptibility to certain conditions.

"We often think of genetic factors as being unmodifiable factors," said Anand. "But lifestyle factors can actually change the genes."

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Pesticides in Fruits and Vegetables: Are They Really Healthy?

Jupiterimages/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- You know you should eat your fruits and vegetables, but with a "dirty dozen" list of pesticide-contaminated produce out Monday and the recent E. coli outbreak linked to supposedly safer organic produce, what's a would-be healthy eater to do?

The answer from health experts -- and even the people who did the study on pesticide residue in produce -- is still the same: Eat those fruits and vegetables, but get them as clean as you can.

The importance of washing produce before eating or cooking it was driven home Monday by the release of a "dirty dozen" list of fruits and vegetables that tested positive for the highest concentration of pesticides.

Apples, a staple in many refrigerators, topped the list with 98 percent testing positive for a pesticide and 92 percent testing positive for two or more pesticides. Coming in second was celery, with more than 95 percent testing positive for at least one pesticide.

Others on the list of shame include: strawberries, peaches, spinach, nectarines, grapes, sweet bell peppers, potatoes, blueberries, lettuce and kale or collard greens.

The benefits of fruits and vegetables are well known. However Environmental Working Group spokesman Alex Formuzis says the pesticides they're coated with have been linked to nervous system toxicity, cancer, hormone system disruption and IQ deficits in children.

But even though some pesticides were still found on the produce after they were washed and peeled, Formuzis said the benefits of fruits and vegetables still outweigh the problems associated with some other snack foods.

Pesticides, which are regulated by the Environmental Protection Agency, are used to protect produce from bugs and also extend its supermarket shelf life.

The Alliance for Food and Farming, a trade group that opposes the new study, says consumers should keep eating the fruits and vegetables in the so-called "dirty dozen."

"Not only are farmers of fruits and vegetables meeting requirements set by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency for pesticide residues, but their crops are shown to have either no residues at all or with residues 10 times to 100 times below already stringent safety limits," said Teresa Thorne of the AFF.

The Environmental Working Group agrees that eating from the "dirty dozen" is better than not eating fruits and vegetables at all, but suggested that when possible, these items should be bought organic.

The Food and Drug Administration offers several tips for cleaning both fresh and organic produce, including wash fruits and vegetables under running water just before eating or cooking, use a brush to scrub produce with hard surfaces such as melons and cucumbers, and cut away any damaged or bruised areas on fruits and vegetables before preparing or eating.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Apples Top List of Pesticide-Laden Produce

Medioimages/Photodisc/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- An apple a day may keep the doctor away, but how good is that apple if it is laden with pesticides?

According to new report released Monday by the Environmental Working Group, apples are at the top of the advocacy group's list of most contaminated fruits and vegetables.

After testing 53 fruits and vegetables and the amount of chemicals left over after the produce was washed and peeled, the group found that 97.8 percent of all apples tested positive for pesticides and 92 percent of them had traces of two or more pesticides.

Coming in second on the list was celery, with 96 percent of all samples testing positive for pesticides, followed by strawberries in third.

Here is the Environmental Working Group's "Dirty Dozen" list:

1. Apples
2. Celery
3. Strawberries
4. Peaches
5. Spinach
6. Nectarines (imported)
7. Grapes (imported)
8. Sweet bell peppers
9. Potatoes
10. Blueberries (domestic)
11. Lettuce
12. Kale/collard greens

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Top 15 Least Contaminated Fruits, Vegetables

Jupiterimages/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- When it comes to fruits and vegetables, do you know which ones are safe to eat and which ones should be purchased organic because of heavy pesticides?

The Environmental Working Group has done the work for you by compiling a list of the top 12 most contaminated fruits and vegetables, called the "Dirty Dozen," and the top 15 least contaminated, or the "Clean 15."

According to EWG, people who eat five fruits and vegetables a day from the "Dirty Dozen" list consume an average of 10 pesticides a day.

EWG analysts developed this "Guide to Pesticides" based on data from nearly 89,000 tests for pesticide residues in produce conducted from 2000-08 and collected by the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.

'Dirty Dozen'

1. Celery
2. Peaches
3. Strawberries
4. Apples
5. Blueberries
6. Nectarines
7. Bell peppers
8. Spinach
9. Cherries
10. Kale/Collard greens
11. Potatoes
12. Grapes (imported)

'Clean 15'

1. Onions
2. Avocado
3. Sweet corn
4. Pineapple
5. Mangoes
6. Sweet peas
7. Asparagus
8. Kiwi
9. Cabbage
10. Eggplant
11. Cantaloupe
12. Watermelon
13. Grapefruit
14. Sweet potato
15. Honeydew melon

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

ABC News Radio