Eating Well As You Get Older

Frequently Asked Questions

10. What are the benefits of eating vegetables, fruits, and grains?

Vegetables, fruits, and grains offer important vitamins and minerals to keep your body healthy. Most of these foods have little fat. They also have no cholesterol. Fruits, vegetables, and grains are also a source of fiber, and eating more fiber may help with digestion and constipation and may lower cholesterol and blood sugar.

Vegetables, fruits, and grains also give your body phytochemicals. Phytochemicals are natural compounds such as beta-carotene, lutein, and lycopene. Like vitamins, minerals, and fiber, phytochemicals may promote good health and reduce the risk of heart disease, diabetes, and some cancers. Research is underway to learn more about the health benefits of these natural compounds.

Vegetables, fruits, and grains also contain antioxidants. Antioxidants are substances that may protect cells in the body from the damage caused by oxidation. They include vitamin C, vitamin E, and other substances. Antioxidants are thought to promote health and to possibly reduce the risk of certain cancers and other diseases.

Colorful vegetables and fruits are the best dietary sources of antioxidants. Deeply and brightly colored fruits and vegetables, such as spinach, carrots, red bell peppers, and tomatoes, have the highest amounts of these healthy substances. Antioxidant supplements may not provide the same health benefits as foods.