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Sunday, July 6, 2014

Can Fruits and Vegetables Lengthen Your Life?

In the nutrition class I teach, I always emphasized how important it is to eat “5 A DAY”, five fruits and vegetables a day.   Then I had a student that LIMITED her fruits and vegetables to 5 a day thinking more was harmful.  So now I emphasize eating AT LEAST 5 fruits and vegetables a day.  But the Canadians do us one better and recommend 7-8 servings for women and 8-10 servings of fruits and vegetables for men.   New research supports the Canadians as more fruit and vegetables can lead to a longer life. 
Research:  An English study looked at 65,000 adults over 7.7 years.  Those who ate more fruits and vegetables lived longer with the greatest benefit seen in those eating seven or more servings of fruits and vegetables a day.   Participants who ate 7 or more fruits and vegetables a day were 42% less like to die than those who ate less than one serving of fruits and vegetables a day.  (Hard to believe there are people eating less than one serving of fruits and vegetables a day, but I run into many in the classes I teach.)   More specifically, their risk of dying from cancer decreased by 24% and their risk of dying from cardiovascular disease decreased by 31%.
Which is better, fruits or vegetables?  This particular study found vegetables had a slight advantage.  As for fruits, the best choices are fresh and dried fruits.  Canned fruit is considered not as good, mostly because canned fruit is often loaded with added sugar.
So what if you find 7 or more servings of fruits and vegetables just TOO MUCH?   Just start increasing what you do eat.   One student in my class really ate no fruits and vegetables, unless one counts French Fries which most nutritionists don’t count.   He added some low sugar canned fruit.  Yes, fresh fruit would have been better but for him adding any fruit was great progress.  Dr. Oyinlola Oybode from the University College London, noted:  “Whatever your starting point, it is always worth eating more fruits and vegetables… Even those eating one to three portions had a significantly lower risk than those eating less than one.”
Why are fruits and vegetables so healthy?  They are loaded with nutrients, antioxidants, fiber and low in calories. 
Now that summer is here, there are many ways to enjoy fresh fruits and vegetables.  Stop off at a farmer’s market for fresh zucchini, corn, cantaloupe, strawberries.   Yesterday my husband brought home peaches, blackberries, raspberries, fresh corn on the cob.  Summer makes it easy to add more fruits and vegetables to your day.

More information- go to CDC fruits and vegetables

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