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Fruits & Vegetables: Natural Health Products for Common Health Problems

You may not think of your favourite fruits and vegetables as natural health products, but a good diet is the first and most essential element of a healthy, natural lifestyle. Making sure your body is getting the nutrients it needs to function is the inspiration behind the 5+ A Day Challenge, a charitable trust that encourages people to eat five servings of fruits and vegetables every day.
Not only is a healthy diet of fruits and vegetables great for preventing health problems, many of the ordinary fruits and vegetables in your kitchen can also go a long way toward relieving some common ailments. In the spirit of the 5+ A Day Challenge, we’re discussing 5 common health problems and the fruits and vegetables that can ease their symptoms.

1. Common Cold

Sure, we all know there’s no cure for the common cold, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t steps we can take to boost our body’s immune system and ward off infections.

All citrus fruits are great, but when it comes to your immune system, the orange reigns supreme. Oranges are the best source of Vitamin C, which is the fuel your immune system runs on.

Garlic and onions do more than give your meals a kick. These potent vegetables also contain essential oils that assist your bodies anti-microbial processes, helping to fight bacterial and viral infections.

Hearty and filling, the beloved kumara is a great source of beta-carotene, which your body converts to Vitamin A – a powerful antioxidant your body needs to restore cell damage. Beets are also a terrific source of beta-carotene.

Another local favourite, gold kiwifruit can also help diminish the duration and intensity of certain cold symptoms. A recent New Zealand study showed that eating gold kiwifruit regularly had a positive impact on congestive and respiratory infections when people became ill.

2. Anxiety

If you’re feeling a little overwhelmed or stressed, your anxiety could be causing you tension and elevated blood pressure. Fortunately, bananas are rich in vitamin B6, which boosts your brain’s production of serotonin, a neurotransmitter that calms your nerves.

Several nuts, particularly Brazil nuts, can also alleviate stress and anxiety. Brazil nuts are rich in Vitamin E, which your brain needs in order to keep you feeling balanced. Depression is often linked to a deficiency of Vitamin E, and Vitamin E is also often used to treat Alzheimer’s disease and dementia.

Another healthy snack to consider when you’re stressed out is pumpkin seeds. Pumpkin seeds are an excellent source of zinc, which is necessary for your brain to regulate mood.

3. High Cholesterol

Your body needs cholesterol to build healthy cells, but too much cholesterol can slow blood-flow through your arteries. High cholesterol is a common problem for kiwis, but an improved diet is often all it takes to improve the levels of cholesterol in your system.

The best way to lower your cholesterol is to improve the quality of fats you’re putting into your body. Processed grains like cookies, doughnuts, and salted crackers, as well as red meats and full-fat dairy products often contain saturated fats, which will lead to high cholesterol levels. Consider replacing some of these fats in your diet with nuts like almonds, pecans, and walnuts, or even avocados. These foods are all good sources of monounsaturated fats which your body has an easier time breaking down.

If you’re cooking with butter or lard, consider replacing it with a healthier oil, such as canola, grapeseed, olive, or sunflower oil. These oils contain healthier fats than butter.

Alfalfa sprouts contain high levels of a plant compound called saponins, which have been scientifically proven to help reduce cholesterol levels.

4. Type 2 Diabetes

Type 2 Diabetes is a chronic blood condition that affects how your body processes glucose, a natural sugar. Even though fruits are rich in glucose, it is still possible to enjoy fruits if you suffer from Type 2 Diabetes (it is, however, recommended that you avoid fruit juices). Go for fresh fruits high in antioxidants, such as oranges, papaya, and apples.

Tomatoes are low in starch and high in a phytochemical called lycopene, which can help to prevent heart complications associated with Type 2 Diabetes.

Make room for your leafy greens! Collard greens, kale, and spinach are all excellent choices that will give your diet a boost of magnesium, which can help prevent the onset of Type 2 Diabetes. These veggies are also rich in potassium, which is good for your blood pressure.

5. Urinary Tract Infections (UTI)

Urinary tract infections are common and irritating, but nonetheless rather easy to manage with a healthy diet. This is because your diet plays a major role in determining the pH level of your urine.

Berries, particularly blueberries and cranberries, are an ideal source of antioxidants, and the berries’ acidity will help fight UTIs. Pomegranates combine powerful antioxidants with a burst of Vitamin C, which prevents bacteria from attaching to the bladder wall. Broccoli is also a great source of Vitamin C if you’re seeking a vegetable option.

A Healthy Diet is Healthy Living

A healthy diet is the first step to a healthy lifestyle, and you needn’t wait until you’re sick to give these tasty remedies a try. Eating fruits and vegetables daily will go a long way toward preventing many of these ailments in the first place.

For more information on natural health supplements and how they can support a healthy diet and lifestyle, contact an O2B Healthy representative to find out which natural health products are best for you.

If you’d like some advice on how you can conquer the 5+ A Day Challenge check out their website, or contact a health professional with 5+ A Day.

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