Coffee, fruits and vegetables all contain important antioxidants. When combined with other foods, they can all be part of a healthy, balanced diet. The key is to avoid excess consumption and to get rid of all of the extras that can wreak havoc on the waistline.
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Health experts have known for years that fruits and vegetables should be a staple in any balanced diet. Coffee, on the other hand, was only recently recognized for its health benefits. In the past, coffee was blamed for everything from stained teeth to stunted growth. According to a New York Times article, "Coffee as a Health Drink? Studies Find Some Benefits," coffee can reduce the risk of diabetes, heart disease and cirrhosis of the liver. In addition to these benefits, the old myths have also been disproved.
The health benefits of coffee, fruits and vegetables are derived from the antioxidants they contain. According to Medline Plus, antioxidants protect the body’s cells from harmful free radicals, which are formed in the body because of a poor diet or harmful environmental contaminants such as pollution, excessive sun exposure and cigarette smoke. Because there are different antioxidants in different foods, it’s not enough to just consume coffee. Human bodies benefit from a variety of antioxidants found in fruits, vegetables and coffee.
Of course, with all good things, moderation is key. Coffee can be problematic because it’s high in caffeine. The Mayo Clinic recommends consuming less than 500 mg of caffeine per day. One 8 oz. cup of coffee can contain anywhere from 95 to 200 mg of caffeine. Tea, soft drinks, chocolate and certain over-the-counter medications can also contain caffeine. Be sure to consider these when calculating daily caffeine totals.
A diet high in fruits and vegetables is only a problem if certain nutrients--such as protein or iron--are lacking. People who aren’t vegetarians or vegans can supplement their diet with protein from poultry, red meat, yogurt and other nonfat dairy products. While there is iron in certain fruits and vegetables, it is more difficult for the body to absorb than iron from animal-based sources. Vitamin C aids in iron absorption, so sprinkle some fresh lemon juice on plant-based sources of iron.
All fruits and vegetables are not created equal. They contain different types and different amounts of antioxidants. To combat this, try to eat a mix of different-colored fruits and vegetables. If this is too complicated, chose whatever is in season. Not only will it taste the best, but it should be cheaper too.
When served on their own, coffee, fruits and vegetables can be healthy. Unfortunately, the little extras that usually accompany them can add up. If black coffee is too bitter, try to use skim milk and a small amount of sugar or a sugar substitute. Eat fresh, plain fruit. Canned fruit contains too much sugar. Finally, top vegetables with fresh seasonings instead of butter to avoid extra fat and extra calories.