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Fruits, vegetables important part of growing up

Around the table

POSTED: April 4, 2013 4:00 p.m.
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The habit of eating fruits and vegetables that started in childhood has remained through adulthood for the Courier’s food columnist.

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A popular commercial shows a bored-looking lad sitting at the kitchen table with a plate of veggies in front on him. In the distance, a motherly voice tells him he is going to stay at the table until he finishes his vegetables.
The following scene shows the boy as a bearded man, still sitting at the table with his uneaten veggies in front of him.
Perhaps I notice too many details and shouldn’t have taken the commercial so seriously, but I couldn’t help notice that the vegetables on his plate had not aged as he had. They were not moldy or rotten, which leads me to believe he was wise not to eat them. They probably were laced with preservatives.
My mama might disagree, but I don’t think I was a difficult child when it came to eating what she put before me — except beets, rutabagas and Brussels sprouts. I loved greens, beans, peas, corn, okra, rice and potatoes.
And no one had to ask me twice to eat my fruit. Many times, I picked that fruit while it was fresh, much of it in the wild or from the fruit trees of an abandoned farm. Whether it was blackberries, figs, pears or wild plums, I generally came home with enough for Mama to make a cobbler or homemade preserves.
The dark stains of blackberry juice on my lips were evidence that I had sampled the goods. But a verse I learned early in Sunday school taught me that you shouldn’t “muzzle the ox when he treadeth out the corn.” When she sent me to fetch a bucket of fresh, wild fruit, I understood I was the ox.
Except for the usual boyhood injuries that come from falling out of trees or finding out that my sneakers were not nail-proof, I was a fairly healthy kid. I think it was because I ate lots of fresh fruit and, for the most part, fresh vegetables. I’ve mentioned before the nutritional value of greens; I think it only goes to say it’s wise to eat some vegetables with every meal — even pizza, which requires mushrooms, onions and green peppers to go with the pepperoni, bacon and Italian sausage.
It’s also wise to eat fruit — and lots of it. According to registered dietician Cara Rosenbloom, there are at least 25 fruits that you should make a regular part of your diet. Unfortunately, she lists her fruit alphabetically rather than in ascending order, so I’ll just have to pick my favorites and let you know what she says is so nutritional about them.
Rosenbloom starts with apples, which she says help lower the risk of developing diabetes and asthma. Bananas have more potassium than most fruits, which help to lower blood pressure. Blackberries, one of my all-time favorites, contain the flavonoid anthocyanin, which helps reduce the risk of strokes and cancer. Blueberries, which she said are ranked No. 1 for their antioxidant qualities, help lower the risk of developing Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s diseases.
I love cantaloupes and was glad to see Rosenbloom promotes their beta-carotene attributes that help reduce the risk of developing cataracts. Cantaloupe, like watermelon, is the perfect diet food because it’s mostly water, she said. Other fruits noted as super-foods for their health benefits include cranberries, which help prevent urinary-tract infections; figs, which reduce the risk of heart disease; grapes, which lower blood pressure; oranges and grapefruit, which lower triglycerides and cholesterol levels; peaches, which help regulate the immune system; pears and prunes, which prevent constipation; and strawberries, which have anti-inflammatory properties that help prevent hardened arteries.
As I recently strolled Hinesville’s spring market, I couldn’t help notice the crates of fresh strawberries. At that moment, though, I wasn’t thinking about their nutritional value, just how good they’d be good sliced up with just a little cream poured over them. Better yet, vanilla ice cream.
If I buy a quart of them, though, I know half of them wouldn’t make the trip home, and I wouldn’t be able to hide the red stains on my lips when my wife asked where they went.

 

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