Diets rich in fruits and vegetables have been shown to be extremely important in maintaining health. Fruits and vegetables have been shown to reduce heart disease risk, decrease the risk for certain cancers, improve life expectancy, and lower body mass index (BMI).
The USDA (United States Department of Agriculture) now recommends more than five fruits and vegetables each day to improve health and reduce disease. Unfortunately, studies show that the recommended consumption of fruits and vegetables is not being met. For example, a recent study of over 2,300 girls published in Preventative Medicine showed that a requirement of two fruits and three vegetables per day was only met by 10% of girls.
Fruit and vegetable concentrates could be one way to help reduce this gap. Some of the components of fruits and vegetables, such as vitamins, minerals, and phytochemicals are effective in maintaining health and immune function. Encapsulated concentrates have been shown to improve immunity and reduce DNA damage. These also have also been shown to increase blood levels of vitamin C and other nutrients, and also decrease the amount of oxidative damage in the body.
A new study in The Journal of Nutrition, examined the effect of a fruit and vegetable concentrate over an 11-week period on 59 healthy students. The students were assigned, in a double-blind fashion, to either a placebo or the fruit and vegetable concentrate. They were instructed to take 4 capsules a day, but were instructed to otherwise not alter their diet. The fruit and vegetable concentrate consisted of powder derived from acerola cherry, apple, beet, broccoli, cabbage, carrot, cranberry, kale, orange, peach, papaya, parsley, pineapple, spinach, and tomato.
At the beginning of the 11-week study blood was taken from the students to determine the level of antioxidants as well as the level of the level of gamma-delta T cells, which are a major part of the immune system involved in wound repair. These gamma-delta T cells are the major T cell component of the skin, lung and intestine, where they take up residence and monitor the neighboring epithelial cells for damage and disease.
At the conclusion of the study, the students were asked to fill out a questionnaire and evaluate the effect on their health. Blood was taken again comparing to the sample taken at the beginning of the study.
At the end of the study the group that took the fruit and vegetable concentrate tended to have fewer self-reported illness symptoms than the placebo group. The fruit and vegetable group also increased antioxidant status and experienced a 30% increase in the number of gamma-delta T cells.
The fruit and vegetable concentrate group also had a decrease in the amount of measure DNA damage. “The lower amount of DNA damage after consumption of fruit and vegetable concentrate was likely due to a variety of nutritive and nonnutritive phytochemicals, including the carotenoids and other flavonoids and phenolic acids.”
The authors conclude, “The objective of this study was to determine whether a commercially available product could potentially provide measurable health-related benefits in the study population. Most people consume only 3 servings of fruits and vegetables a day, whereas the latest guidelines are greater than 5 servings of fruits and vegetables a day, depending on energy intake. The formulation of fruit and vegetable concentrate was effective in raising carotenoids levels, ascorbic acid [vitamin C] levels, and plasma antioxidant capacity and was associated with a greater percentage of gamma-delta T cells and the tendency for a reduced number of symptoms and duration of illness.”
SOURCE: The Journal of Nutrition, October 2006
Source: The Journal of Nutrition, October 2006