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Mother did know best when she told you to eat your fruits and vegetables, according to a recent report aired on ABC News.  The story showed how while the consumption of fruits and vegetables has increased significantly over the past decade, only about a fourth of all Americans consumed at least three servings of vegetables daily—the recommended amount for optimum health.

The story was based on a report generated by the Centers for Disease Control’s Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report.  They found that only about 26 percent of U.S. adults are eating three or more servings of vegetables a day, which has been shown in study after study to lower risks for stroke, type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, Alzheimer’s disease, and heart disease.  Eating the proper amounts of fruits and vegetables each day can also reduce risks for certain types of cancers, eye disease, digestive problems, bone loss, and kidney stones. 

Eating vegetables raw showed the most benefit, as they contain biophotons, which are the smallest physical units of light that are stored in and used by all biological organisms on earth.  The study also noted that fruits should be eaten more sparingly than vegetables, as they can contain high levels of naturally occurring fructose, which can increase blood sugar levels.

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Here’s something to think about the next time you get a hankering for enchiladas: According to a news release published this month by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, nearly 1 out of every 25 restaurant-associated outbreaks of foodborne infection from 1998 to 2008 could be traced back to contaminated salsa or guacamole.

CDC experts say that freshly prepared salsa and guacamole in particular typically contain ingredients like raw tomatoes, peppers, and cilantro—an herb made popular by its use in Mexican cuisine—but that improper storage temperatures or handling methods increased the risk of contamination and pathogen growth, resulting in a sharp rise in foodborne illness. While the CDC will continue to monitor foodborne disease trends, they caution restaurant owners to follow proper food safety preparation and storage guidelines.

Tomatoes and peppers are also among the top foods affected by widespread pesticide contamination in the U.S. The majority of commercially grown produce is treated with high amounts of pesticides, herbicides and other chemicals, many of which remain on fruits and vegetables even after a thorough washing. For this reason, natural health experts like Detox Strategy author Brenda Watson recommend buying organically grown produce whenever possible.

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