FRUITS AND VEGETABLES: ORGANIC WEAPONS AGAINST HUMAN DISEASES

RK Gothwal, KC Bairwa, Rajuram, M Agnihotri, N Moraniya and Manju Lata

A man’s health is a very important aspect of his life. To say that “health is wealth” is not only to utter an old, used up mantra, but to mean that for most human beings, staying fit and healthy is parallel to being wealthy, for a person’s everyday life is influenced mainly by the state of his mind and body, especially by the presence and absence of certain diseases. Many people go through various efforts to stay fit, maintain good health, and ensure their longevity. These practices include engaging in rigorous physical fitness training, eating a balanced and healthy diet, maintaining ideal weight, and employing an effective stress management procedure.  Poor health can be caused by a host of different factors, such as poor eating habits, lack of exercise, stress, and excessive smoking and alcohol intake. Unbalanced intake of nutrients, for one, may cause excessive or deficient nutrient intake, which will definitely affect the body’s normal functions. These nutrients are necessary for a person’s growth, metabolism, and other functions. There are about six nutrients, which are needed by the human body in different amounts to perform its various processes. These are: carbohydrates, proteins, and fats, or nutrients that are known to provide energy to the body; and minerals, vitamins, and water, or those nutrients that support the body’s metabolism.

Fruit and vegetables are the name well known for every one for its delicious and palatable taste. Fruits and vegetables play a vital role in human health by providing carbohydrates, vitamins, minerals, fat, enzymes, fiber, water and certain specific compounds which are essential for normal body function and them known as protective food (Table 1 &2). Fruits and vegetables can also be called as organic weapon to fight with many serious diseases of human. Fruits and vegetables intake can leave us feeling physically better and more alert, increasing attention span and reducing tiredness. The cranberry juice is believed to prevent urinary tract infections; grape juice is believed to lower of blood clots in the heart; and orange juice is believed to prevent stroke and reduce the risk of heart attacks.

Table 1 specific functions of fruits in human health

Common Name

Botanical Name

Specific function

Avocado

Persea Americana

 

Rich in glutathione, a powerful antioxidant that attacks free radicals in the body by blocking intestinal absorption of certain fats. They also supply even more potassium than bananas and are a strong source of beta-carotene. Scientists also believe that avocados may also be useful in treating viral hepatitis (a cause of liver cancer), as well as other sources of liver damage.

Fig

Ficus carica

 

Figs have a derivative of benzaldehyde. It has been reported that benzaldehyde is highly effective at shrinking tumors. In addition, figs, which contain vitamins A and C, and calcium, magnesium and potassium, may curtail appetite and improve weight-loss efforts. Fig juice is also a potent bacteria killer in test-tube studies.

Grapefruit

Citrus paradise

 

Contain monoterpenes, believed to help prevent cancer by sweeping carcinogens out of the body. Some studies show that grapefruit may inhibit the proliferation of breast-cancer cells in vitro. They also contain vitamin C, beta-carotene, and folic acid.

Grape (Red)

Vitis spp

 

Grapes contain bioflavonoids, powerful antioxidants that work as cancer preventives. Grapes are also a rich source of resveratrol, which inhibits the enzymes that can stimulate cancer-cell growth and suppress immune response. They also contain ellagic acid, a compound that blocks enzymes that are necessary for cancer cells - this appears to help slow the growth of tumors.

Nuts (Chestnut Hazelnut Pecan Walnut Cashew Macadamia Pistachio etc.

Castanea spp.     Corylus avellana   Carya illinoensis Juglans regia Anacardium occidentale Macadamia integrifolia Macadamia tetraphylla Pistacia vera

Contain the antioxidants quercetin and campferol that may suppress the growth of cancers. Brazil nut contains 80 micrograms of selenium, which is important for those with prostate cancer.

Orange and lemon

Citrus sinensis,

Citrus aurantium,    

   Citrus limon

 

Contain Iimonene which stimulates cancer-killing immune cells (lymphocytes) that may also break down cancer-causing substances. Besides being well known for its vitamin C, oranges are also a good source of folate. Folate is especially an important nutrient for pregnant women as it can help prevent the development of neural tube defects.

Papaya

Carica papaya

 

It is rich in vitamin C that works as an antioxidant and may also reduce absorption of cancer-causing nitrosamines from the soil or processed foods. Papaya contains folacin (also known as folic acid), which has been shown to minimize cervical dysplasia and certain cancers. The skin of the papaya contains special acids which help to maintain healthy skin. Papain, the enzyme present in papaya, also helps to aid digestion.

Raspberry

Rubus idaeus (European)

Rubus strigosus (American)

 

Contains many vitamins, minerals, plant compounds and antioxidants known as anthocyanins that may protect against cancer. Black raspberries are rich in antioxidants, thought to have even more cancer-preventing properties than blueberries and strawberries

Apple

Malus pumila

 

Flavonoids, a type of antioxidant present in apples, can help lower the chances of developing asthma and diabetes. The fibres of an apple help to clean your teeth and palate of bacteria and food residue. However make sure to eat apples whole without peeling its skin as its rich flavor and the nutrient load lies just below the skin.

Banana

Musa spp.

 

Bananas are a rich source of potassium that can help to maintain a healthy blood pressure level.

Cherry

P. guajave var. attleianum

 

Anthocyanin present in slightly sour cherries can help to reduce inflammation and ease gout and other arthritis pain.

Kiwifruit (Chinese gooseberry)

Actinidia chinensis

 

Kiwifruit can help to maintain and develop the bones, cartilages, gums and teeth as it has even more vitamin C than oranges.

Mango

Mangifera indica

 

Mangoes are rich in zeaxanthin and lutein, both antioxidants help protect vision and lower the risk of development of age-related macular degeneration.

Fruits and vegetables containing phytochemicals are strong antioxidants and function to modify the metabolic activation and detoxification or even influence processes that alter the course of the tumor cell. Antioxidants help in increasing the immunity power and neutralize the harmful compounds in the human body. Although, antioxidant capacity varies greatly among fruits and vegetables. The antioxidants that neutralize the damage caused by free radicals to the powerful phytochemicals that scientists are just beginning to explore. There isn't a single element in a particular food that does all the work: The best thing to do is eat a variety of foods. The tabulated information will acquaint with the specific components of fruits, nuts and vegetables and their role in fighting against the diseases.  

Table 2 Specific functions of vegetables in human health

Common Name

Botanical Name

Specific function

Tomato

Lycopersicon esculentum

 

Tomato is an excellent source of lycopene, a potent antioxidant that offers protection against advanced stages of prostrate cancer and may also help in reducing high cholesterol levels.

Brinjal

Solanum melongena

 

Besides being rich in a host of vitamins and minerals, eggplants are also rich in nasunin (found under the skin of this vegetable) which is considered a brain food.

Broccoli

Brassica oleracea

 

Indoles and sulforaphane, two phyto- nutrients present in broccoli have significant anti-cancer effects.

Carrot

Daucus carota

 

Carrots are a rich source of antioxidant compounds and also pro-vitamin A carotenes. These carotenes and antioxidant compounds promote good vision and help to protect against certain cancers and cardiovascular diseases. It also increases blood haemoglobin.

Celery

Apium graveolens

 

Celery is a rich source of vitamin C and many other active compounds including phthalides and coumarins which may help lower cholesterol and prevent cancer.

Beet

Beta vulgaris

 

Betaine present in beet helps to reduce inflammation and pain. Beets are also rich in folate which is an essential B complex vitamin that helps prevent birth defects in the growing fetus. It also increases blood haemoglobin. 

Green peas

Pisum sativum

 

Green peas are loaded with 8 vitamins and 7 minerals along with fiber and protein. Vitamin K along with folate and vitamin B6 from green peas help to maintain healthy bones.

Spinach

Basella alba

 

Spinach is an excellent source of vitamin A, vitamin K, folate, magnesium, manganese, iron, calcium, B vitamins and vitamin E. All these nutrients help to protect from a host of diseases like arthritis, colon cancer, heart diseases and osteoporosis.

Fruits and vegetables are not only delicious but healthy too. They contain essential vitamins and minerals that offer protection against many chronic diseases (Table 3). Fruits and vegetables are an important part of a balanced daily diet. Fiber, phytochemicals, antioxidants and other compounds from fruits and vegetables protects against life threatening diseases like cancer, heart diseases, stroke and diabetes etc (Table 4). But remember, no one food will contain all these essential nutrients. Therefore, it is very important to include a wide variety of both vegetables and fruits in your daily diet for maximum health benefits. There are different seasonal fruits and vegetables available.

 Table 3 Role of fruits in eradication of human diseases

Constituent

Sources

Established or proposed effects on human-wellness

Vitamin-C (Ascorbic acid)

Citrus fruits, guava, kiwifruit, pineapple,strawberry, watermelon

Prevents scurvy, aids wound healing, healthy immune- system, cardiovascular-disease

Vitamin-A (Carotenoids)

Orange-flesh fruits (such as apricot, cantaloupe, mango, nectarine, orange, papaya, peach, persimmon, and pineapple)

Night blindness prevention, chronic fatigue, psoriasis, heart disease, stroke, cataracts

Riboflavin

Beal, papaya, cashew nut, litchi

Fight against loss in weight, lack of appetite, sour throat and cataract

Vitamin K

Nuts

synthesis of pro-coagulant factors, osteoporosis

Vitamin-E (Tocopherols)

Nuts like almonds, cashew nuts, filberts, macadamias, pecans, pistachios, peanuts, and walnuts

Heart-disease, LDL-oxidation, immune-system, diabetes, cancer

Vitamin P

Citrus peel

Prevent bleeding in very small vessels

Fiber

Most fresh fruits, fig and nuts

Diabetes, heart disease

Calcium

Papaya, raisins, orange, almonds,

Osteoporosis, muscular/ skeletal, teeth, blood pressure

Magnesium

Banana, nuts, cashews

Osteoporosis, nervous system, teeth, immune system

Potassium

Banana & plantain, dried fruits (such as apricots and prunes), winter (orange) squash, and cantaloupe

Hypertension (blood pressure) stroke

arteriosclerosis

Iron

Karonda (dry), dates, walnut, raisins

Blood purifier and haemoglobin

Table 4 Vitamins and biochemical compounds from fruits and vegetables 

Constituent

Compound

Sources

Established or proposed effects on human-wellness

Phenolic compounds

Proanthocyanins

tannins

Apple, grape, cranberry, pomegranate

Cancer

Anthocyanidins

Cyanidin, malvidin, delphinidin,  pelargonidin, peonidin, petunidin

Red, blue, and purple fruits (such as apple, blackberry,blueberry, cranberry,grape, nectarine, peach, plum &prune, pomegranate, raspberry,and strawberry)

Heart disease, cancer initiation, diabetes, cataracts, blood pressure, allergies

Flavan-3-ols

Epicatechin, epigallocatechin catechin, gallocatechin

 

Apples, apricots, blackberries, plums, raspberries, strawberries

Platelet aggregation, cancer

Flavanones

Hesperetin, naringenin, eriodictyol

Citrus (oranges, grapefruit, lemons, limes, tangerine)

Cancer

Flavones

Luteolin, apigenin

Celeriac, celery, peppers, rutabaga, spinach, parsley, artichoke, guava, pepper

Cancer, allergies, heart disease

Flavonols

Quercetin, kaempferol, myricetin, rutin

Onions, snap beans, broccoli, cranberry, kale, peppers, lettuce

Heart disease, cancer initiation, capillary protectant

Phenolic acids

Caffeic acid, chlorogenic acid, coumaric acid, ellagic acid

Blackberry, raspberry, strawberry, apple, peach, plum, cherry

Cancer, cholesterol

Carotenoids

Lycopene

-

Tomato, watermelon, papaya, Brazilian guava, Autumn olive, red grapefruit

Cancer, heart disease, male infertility

α-carotene

-

Sweet potatoes, apricots, pumpkin, cantaloupe, green beans, lima beans, broccoli, brussel sprouts, cabbage, kale, kiwifruit, lettuce, peas, spinach, prunes, peaches, mango, papaya, squash and carrots

Tumor growth

β-carotene

-

Cantaloupes, carrots, apricots, broccoli, leafy greens (lettuce, swiss chard), mango, persimmon, red pepper, spinach, sweet potato

Cancer

Xanthophylls

Lutein, zeaxanthin,

β-cryptoxanthin

Sweet corn, spinach, corn, okra, cantaloupe, summer squash, turnip greens

Macular degeneration

Monoterpenes

Limonene

Citrus (grapefruit, tangerine)

Cancer

Sulfur compounds

Glucosinolates, isothiocyanates, indoles, allicin, diallyl isulphide

Broccoli, Brussels sprouts, mustard greens, horseradish, garlic, onions, chives, leeks

Cancer, cholesterol, blood pressure, diabetes

The use of fruits and vegetables in daily life as a food material, it gives immunity to body to fight against disease. It is better to add a significant quantity of it’s, it gives better strength to body originals and positive influence on its secretion. In rural area every farmers growing vegetables, but they didn’t know its nutritional values. So with the help of government as well as non government organization should play to spread awareness to the remote peoples regarding its importance in diet. 


Authors:

RK Gothwal, KC Bairwa, Rajuram, M Agnihotri1, N Moraniya2 and Manju Lata3

SKRAU Bikaner, 1 MPUAT Udaipur, 2JNKVV Jabalpur, 3Rajasthan University, Jaipur

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