FROM THE EDITOR: October 2006

January 28, 2008
Written by
Here’s some food for thought. A recent UCLA/Louisiana State University study of dietary data on more than 17,500 people found that consumption of salads and raw vegetables correlates with higher concentrations of folic acid, vitamins C and E, lycopene and alpha and beta carotene in the bloodstream.
Magazine publishing involves a fair amount of travel. Being on the road means a lot of rushing about, whether between seminar halls at conferences or motoring along concession roads visiting growers. Then there’s the frequent sprinting along departure gates hoping your precision-timed connecting flight hasn’t already left, with or without you and/or your luggage.

(I once scampered through the Atlanta airport to make a connecting flight to Bogota, only to discover upon my arrival in Colombia that the baggage handler hadn’t been as fleet of foot – or motivated – as I had been. You’d be surprised how well you can improvise a laundry service in a hotel bathroom. My change of clothes, thankfully, arrived late the next day.)

Eating well on the road is an extension of our new lifestyles, especially those of us who’ve never met a buffet they didn’t like. People are increasingly aware of the importance of good nutrition, and are avoiding the shortcuts of ‘super-sizing’ portions when offered. Why do fast food chains only ask to super-size the saturated-fat-friendly fries and high-caloric beverages, and not their salads?

Greenhouses produce key salad ingredients. And the move towards healthier eating is good news for growers and shippers. A recent UCLA/Louisiana State University study of dietary data on more than 17,500 people found that consumption of salads and raw vegetables correlates with higher concentrations of folic acid, vitamins C and E, lycopene and alpha and beta carotene in the bloodstream. The study, published in the September edition of the peer-reviewed Journal of the American Dietetic Association, also found that each serving of salad consumed correlates with a 165 per cent higher likelihood of women meeting the recommended dietary allowances for vitamin C, and a 119 per cent greater likelihood for men.

“The consistently higher levels of certain nutrients in the bloodstream of salad-eaters suggest these important components of a healthy diet are being well-absorbed from salad,” said Lenore Arab, visiting professor of epidemiology at the UCLA School of Public Health and co-author of the study with L. Joseph Su, assistant professor at the LSU School of Public Health. “The findings endorse consumption of salad and raw vegetables as an effective strategy for increasing intake of important nutrients.”

The authors note that eating even just one serving of salad or raw vegetables a day “significantly boosts the likelihood of meeting the recommended daily intake of certain nutrients.”

The Five-to-10-a-Day campaign of the Canadian Produce Marketing Association has helped focus attention on healthier food choices. It has found that only 25 per cent of Canadians eat at least five servings of fruit and vegetables a day.

However the campaign notes that eating right, plus staying physically active and maintaining a healthy weight, can cut the cancer risk by 30 to 40 per cent. “A simple change, such as eating the recommended five servings of vegetables and fruit each day, could by itself reduce the cancer rates more than 20 per cent,” notes the campaign website. The campaign also points out “thousands of other studies have concluded that plant foods can reduce the risk of coronary heart disease, and lower blood pressure and cholesterol.”

This industry has so many positives associated with its products. Tomatoes, cucumbers and peppers – not forgetting smaller greenhouse vegetable crops – are essential for good health. Just as importantly, flowers are food for the soul.

Healthier eating is making good sense for more and more people. Fresh vegetables are an important part of this trend, rich in nutrients and taste. Good health begins with good foods.

And you never know when you’re going to need a Herculean burst of energy to sprint through a departures lounge.

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