Eat your fruit!

Eat your vegetables!

Sound familiar? To most, it resinates especially as a child when your parents would make you try those green slimy things sitting on your plate.  As a child, we would question our parents as to why and as an instant reply, because they are healthy for you. Healthy how you may ask?

Well….Fruit and Vegetables:

  • Reduce the risk of cancer and other chronic diseases
  • Provide essential vitamins, minerals, fiber, and other substances essential for good health.
  • Are naturally low in fat and calories.

Fruit and vegetables may also make you live longer.  In a recent study by Bellavia et al, they looked at the association of fruit and vegetable consumption with mortality, death, rate.  The objective of the study was to see the dose response relationship between fruit and vegetable intake and mortality.  Meaning, researchers wanted to see if their was an association between how many fruits and vegetables were consumed with death rates.

The design of the study took place in Sweden and involving 38,221 men and 33,485 women 45-83 years of age.  The study lasted a total of 13 years which made the study a longitudinal study. To conduct a study for such a duration the researchers used a series of self-administered questionnaires. Results from these questionnaires showed that over the 13 year follow up period 6,803 men and 4,636 women participants died.  

To break this down even further, of those 11,439 deaths, those who never consumed fruits and vegetables lived 3 years shorter and had a 53% higher mortality rate than did those who consumed 5 servings of fruits and vegetables a day. When looking at fruit versus vegetables researchers found that individuals who never consumed fruits would live 19 months shorter than those individuals who ate 1 fruit per day.  As for vegetables, individuals who consumed 3 vegetables per day lived 32 months longer than those individuals who never consumed vegetables.  Therefore, fruit and vegetable consumption is associated with a higher mortality rate when not eaten on a regular basis.

What does this mean? 

What this research study is trying to demonstrate is the importance of fruit and vegetable consumption. Fruit and vegetables have chemical properties called phytochemicals and antioxidants.  These are scientific words that mean:  nutrients that help protect our cell which ultimately leads to protective effects against disease states.

How much is recommended to eat?

Since fruit and vegetables are vital for our body to work properly it is important that we consume enough of them. For the general public, it is best to try and consume at least 5 servings or 3-5 cups of fruit and vegetables a day. However, age, sex, and level of physical activity can all play on a role on how much is actually needed.  Therefore, the more physically active a person is and the older they get the more fruits and vegetables they should consume.

Secondly, how much is a serving and/or a cup of fruit?  In general, 1 cup of raw or cooked vegetables or 2 cups of raw leafy greens is considered as 1 cup from the Vegetable group.  One cup of fruit is about the size of a Baseball.  

Next, when it comes to eating fruit and vegetables it is best to eat an array of colors rather than to eat only one color.  The reason for this is because each color of fruit/vegetable provides different nutrients.  Therefore, to have a balance of phytochemicals and antioxidants we need to consume a rainbow of colors. For Example: Strawberries, kale, sweet potatoes, blackberries, eggplant, leeks, tomatoes, etc.

 Finally, listen to your parents and EAT YOUR FRUITS AND VEGETABLES!