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Mark Hull

Scientists say
that some food is surprisingly good
for you.

We all know that what we eat is critical to our health and well being. Much scientific research focuses on the medicinal properties of food. This area is gaining increasing attention as people realize that simple changes in diet can have a long term impact on our general health. Of course, there is nothing necessarily new in this. Many old sayings point to the beneficial properties of food. Scientists, however, are keen to understand why this may be. Recent studies have identified the following common fruits and vegetables as having important properties from which we can all benefit:

An apple a day... keeps hunger at bay

Researchers at the Brooke Army Medical Centre in San Antonio, Texas tested the impact of pectin (a soluble fibre found in the skin of apples and pears) on hunger. A test group of 74 people drank orange juice on an empty stomach. Some took juice laced with pectin, some without. All those taking the juice with pectin reported feeling little sense of hunger for up to four hours after the drink. Those drinking ordinary juice found themselves significantly more hungry more quickly.

The researchers believe that pectin may slow the digestion, keeping more food in the stomach for longer. So an apple a day may help keep hunger - as well as the doctor - away.

Berry good news

Blueberries have reached "superfood" status at the Department of Health in the US since scientists discovered that the substance which gives the berries their distinctive blue colour also contains anti-aging agents and cancer-inhibiting properties. The secret weapon here lies in the blueberries' antioxident compounds. These help fight harmful molecules in the body which may contribute to cancer and heart disease.

Antioxidents may also help reduce eyestrain, improve the circulation of blood, protect against sun damage to the skin and control diabetes. Scientists have discovered that blueberries have higher levels of antioxidents than most other common vegetables or fruits. Not surprisingly, many health specialists are now taking a closer look at this traditional summer fruit. Food experts recommend that we add a handful of blueberries to our daily diet to enjoy the benefits that the fruit's remarkable antioxidents can bring.

Brilliant broccoli

The intake of good levels of folic acid has long been associated with healthy pregnancies in women and many health care systems prescribe folic acid as a matter of course to women in the early stages of pregnancy.

Scientists now believe that this long-established medical practice may contribute to the significantly lower rates of Alzheimer's disease noted among women. Studies have found that folic acid breaks down homocysteine, a hormone which is found in high levels among people suffering from Alzheimer's disease.

Broccoli is one of the very best sources of folic acids available naturally in food. Increasing broccoli in men's diet may, therefore, prove one of the most effective and easily-administered defences against this debilitating disease which damages its victims' memory and everyday ability to cope with the world.

Oranges and Lemons

The British navy used to give its sailors limes (or lemons) as part of the daily rations to fight scurvy. This practice gave rise to the derogatory term 'limey', once much employed by the American armed forces to denote an Englishman.

However, the British navy was on to a secret which has now found its way into the general diet of millions of people. The high vitamin C content of citrus food provides a powerful boost to the immune system in general and helps fight such ailments as the common cold. As a result, orange juice is just about the most common fruit juice drink on offer anywhere in the world.

Sixteenth century children in London probably only came into contact with these exotic and, at that time, very costly fruits through the well-known nursery rhyme "oranges and lemons, said the bells of St Clements". For them, an apple a day was the best way to take in this most invaluable of vitamins. Nowadays kiwi-fruits are probably the best alternative source of vitamin C for people tired of too much orange juice at the breakfast table.

Source: New English Digest


focuses on: centers on (se centra en)
are keen to
: are very enthusiastic at (están muy interesados en)
keeps hunger at bay: keeps the physiological need for food at a distance (mantiene el apetito alejado)
fibre: the substance like threads that is in fruits and vegetables (fibra)
with: with something added to it (complementado con)
may slow
: will probably slow (probablemente retrase)
cancer-inhibiting: preventing from cancer
(inhibidoras del cáncer)
sun damage: damages generated by sun rays (afecciones solares)
taking a closer look at: paying more attention to (prestando más atención)

remarkable: unusual, singular (destacados, notables)
intake: consumption, the process of taking food into the body through the mouth (ingesta, consumo)
pregnancies: gestations (embarazos)
debilitating: that makes the body weak (debilitadora)
to cope with: unusual, singular (para hacer frente a)
scurvy: a disease caused by deficiency of ascorbic acid (vitamin C), common among sailors, who did not eat enough fresh fruit
ailments: health problems (problemas de salud)
well-known nursery rhyme
: famous song for children (conocida canción infantil)