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Eat Colorful Vegetables and Fruit for Good Health

That color looks fabulous in you.

For a long time, nutritionists have been advising eaters of all ages to add color to their diets. In fact, the more colors we eat, the better balanced the meal. And a new study in th e Archives of Internal Medicine supports this belief.

Carotenoids, naturally occurring pigments, are largely responsible for the red, yellow and orange color of fruits and vegetables. They're also found in many dark orange vegetables (carrots and sweet potatoes), and dark green vegetables (green beans).

Two types of carotenoids, alpha- and beta-carotene, both produce Vitamin A in the body. (Research has revealed more about beta-carotene because of its possible role in preventing chronic disease.)

Researchers at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found people with the highest levels of the antioxidant alpha-carotene in their blood had a 39 percent lower risk of death from any cause than those with the lowest levels. They recommend a diet filled with dark green vegetables to keep your body fit and healthy.

The investigators believe the benefits of high alpha-carotene eventually flattens out, as it's not an ostensible elixir of eternal life. But they conclude that increasing fruit and vegetable consumption might prevent premature death.

So it turns out your mother was right after all. (Are you surprised?) Eating fruits and vegetables is beneficial to your overall health.

For tips on how to include more fruits and vegetables in your diet, and to learn the benefits each provides, go to the American Heart Association website.

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