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.
Americans love sugar. According to the USDA, each of us consumes more than 150 pounds of added sugar every year (or about 50 teaspoons daily), making the United States the largest consumer of sweeteners worldwide.
So where does most of this sugary goodness come from? Mainly from heavily processed snack foods, baked goods and soft drinks all loaded with high-fructose corn syrup. HFCS is a highly refined sweetener made from corn starch, and one that is widely used by food manufacturers because it is inexpensive to produce and transport.
The problem, experts say, comes with the health risks associated with HFCS and how it works in the body. Put simply, it affects healthy blood sugar levels and insulin regulation, which helps to explain why a diet high in HFCS has been linked to increased risk of obesity and obesity-related disease. And now scientists have found another reason to caution Americans against the common sweetener.
A recent study found that pancreatic cancer cells use fructose to multiply in the body, which supports previous studies that have linked a high-HFCS diet with higher rates of pancreatic cancer. It has to do with how fructose and glucose—the two main components of HFCS—are metabolized in the body, and scientists found that cancer cells had an easier time metabolizing fructose in order to thrive.
More research is planned to help scientists better understand the relationship between sugar metabolism and increased cancer risk, but experts hope that studies like this one will increase awareness about the dangers of eating too much sugar.