Health Watch -- Fruit and Fiber

Health Watch is a Public Service of the Office of News and Publications and is intended to provide general information only and should not replace the advice of a medical professional. You should contact your physician if you have questions about any of these topics.

Summer's bounty could have extra benefits for your health.

Summer is a great time to eat fresh fruits and vegetables, whether you get your treats from your garden, the grocery store or the farmers market. So many foods that are good for you are in season at this time of year, so they're inexpensive and readily available. Numerous studies have shown the benefits of eating plenty of fruits and vegetables.

At least five servings a day are recommended to help prevent cancer and heart disease, and researchers at UT Southwestern Medical Center at Dallas have found that eating at least 50 grams of soluble fiber -- the kind found in fruits and vegetables -- a day can help lower insulin levels for diabetics.

Which fruits and vegetables are best for fiber? Look for yellow or orange fruits, like cantaloupes, papaya, mangoes and oranges. Vegetables such as broccoli, okra, artichokes and kohlrabi are also good sources of fiber. You can also find soluble fiber in beans and in grains like oats.

While fresh fruits and vegetables are so readily available, it's an ideal time to work more of them into your diet. Add berries to your breakfast cereal. Make a fruit salad for lunch. Eat a piece of fruit for dessert -- this is an especially fun way to try a new kind of fruit. Look for new vegetables you haven't tried to create unique side dishes. You can even grill some vegetables the way you would meats. The great thing about fruit is that there's very little cooking involved -- just wash, peel and slice.