Did Your Mom and Grandmother Insist That You Eat Your Fruits and Vegetables?
Of course they did… and sometimes the oldest advice is the wisest advice. A new study published in March 2014 in the Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health, should give you more reason to pile your plate with fresh produce picks. The study used data from more than 65,000 free-living English adults (at least 35 years old) and monitored their dietary habits and health status for an average of 7.7 years. During the course of the study, some 4,399 subjects died. Using the available dietary intake and mortality data, researchers found an association between fruit and vegetable consumption and reduced risk for death from all causes, as well as risk of dying from cardiovascular disease or cancer.
What Do We Learn From This Study?
Subjects who reported eating seven or more servings of produce daily were 42% less likely to die from any cause during the study. In addition, those eating seven or more servings per day reduced risk of dying from cancer by 25 percent and from heart disease by 31 percent, compared to those who reported eating less than a serving per day. Vegetables were found to provide more disease-preventing benefits than fruit. For example, those eating 3+ servings of fruit reduced risk of death by 16 percent but eating 3+ servings of vegetables reduced risk of death by 32 percent. (Vegetables are your greatest source of vitamins and minerals)
The researchers also found that every additional serving of fruit or vegetable reduced risk for overall death. They did report, however, that canned and frozen fruit consumption was correlated with a slight increased risk of death. The researchers noted that this finding is not consistent with previous studies, and added sugar in many canned fruits may be the culprit. (Many fresh frozen fruits contain no extra sugar).
Bottom line: It’s okay to be like your mother or your grandmother and ensure that your children and grandchildren learn to love vegetables and fruits. The study makes it clear… Eat more vegetables and fruits. While it’s unclear how many servings per day are optimal for overall health, this study shows that three or more servings of vegetables and three or more servings of fruit provided significant health payoffs. Produce may be the only food group that we can safely say, “More is better!”