FRIDAY, April 13, 2012 (HealthDay News) -- Studies suggest that eating a diet that contains lots of fresh fruits and vegetables may reduce the risk of heart disease, high blood pressure and certain cancers.
So which ones should you choose this spring? Some of your best choices are strawberries, pineapple, spinach, broccoli and mustard greens, which are in season and among the most economical this time of year, experts say.
"Eating a plant-based diet rich in vegetables, fruits, whole grains and beans can reduce your risk for cancer," Clare McKindley, a clinical dietitian at University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston, said in a university news release. "And buying what's in season keeps your diet fresh and helps you build confidence in your food choices, while supporting your long-term health goals."
Although the price of fresh produce depends on where it's purchased, McKindley offered these tips on buying five affordable springtime fruits and vegetables:
- Strawberries One cup of strawberries contains 46 calories and costs 89 cents. This fruit offers protection from breast, skin, bladder, esophageal and lung cancers. Choose strawberries that are red, firm, still have their green cap attached and are free of mold or damage.
- Pineapple One cup of pineapple contains 82 calories and costs 70 cents. This fruit is fat-free, low in sodium and rich in vitamin C. Look for pineapples that don't have soft or dark spots or dry-looking leaves.
- Spinach One cup of raw spinach contains 7 calories and costs 52 cents. Spinach is high in fiber, folate and antioxidants that may protect the body from cancers of the mouth, pharynx and larynx. Choose spinach that's crisp and green, and avoid leaves with insect damage.
- Mustard Greens One cup of mustard greens cooked without salt or added fats contains 21 calories and costs 81 cents. An alternative to spinach, mustard greens offer the same cancer-fighting properties. Look for leaves that are fresh, tender and free of discoloration and damage.
- Broccoli One cup of chopped broccoli cooked without salt contains 30 calories and costs 63 cents. This vegetable is packed with folate, fiber and antioxidants that may reduce the risk of colorectal cancer. Broccoli should be odorless with tight, bluish-green florets.
The American Cancer Society provides more on the benefits of fruits and vegetables.