7 Fruits and Veggies a Day Keeps Death at Bay?

Maylin Rodriguez-Paez, RN

A recent study found that eating a greater portion of fruits and vegetables each day significantly reduced the risk of dying.

Is this the proof we’ve all been waiting for or just a confirmation of what we’ve known all along?

This conclusion doesn't come as much of a surprise, considering all the previous research showing the benefits of fruits and vegetables.

That being said, consider this a firm, substantiated reminder of the benefits that solid nutrition can offer.

Eating Ample Fruits and Veggies Reduced the Risk of Dying by 42%

Researchers in England wanted to analyze the effect of eating fruits and vegetables on health. Data were collected from health surveys conducted between 2001 and 2013 on 65,226 participants.

Overall, they found the more fruits and vegetables people ate, the lower their risk of death, including a decreased risk of dying from cancer and cardiovascular diseases.

The greatest benefit was found for people who ate 7 or more portions of fruits and vegetables. Compared to people who ate less than one serving, they had a reduced risk of dying of 42% at any age.1 Those who ate 1–3 portions had a 14% reduced risk of dying, 3–5 portions 29%, and 5–7 portions 36%.1

Vegetables demonstrated a more protective effect than fruits, and each portion of fresh fruit showed a 4% reduction in the risk. Fresh fruit and dried fruit displayed benefits while canned and frozen fruit showed an apparent increased risk of mortality.1

How Many Servings of Fruits and Veggies Should You Eat?

Let’s face it, who has the time to measure a serving size of fruit, and who takes a measuring cup with them wherever they go? If you’re like me, you have no idea what a cup of fruit really looks like.

So instead of proposing that you eat 7 servings of produce daily, we propose something more practical. Try filling half of your plate with fruits and vegetables — at least that’s what the experts in the United States recommend.

And if you eat more than half your plate in produce, that’s fine too. The idea is to get more vegetables (and fruit) in your diet because most of us aren't really meeting our minimum requirements.

Sneak Fruits and Veggies into Your Diet

We understand that it can be difficult to work enough fruits and vegetables into your diet. Let’s face it, the typical Western diet isn't exactly “veggie-centric.”

So, in order to get your servings in, you may want to use a little creativity. Here’s a post explaining how to do that, for anyone who’s interested: 9 Sneaky Ways to Add More Fruits & Vegetables to Your Diet

And for those who like to experiment in the kitchen, here’s a nice recipe that’s totally veggie-friendly, courtesy of HeavyontheVeggie. Enjoy!

Recipe: Eggplant Lasagna

Yields: 8 Servings
Prep Time: 30 Minutes
Cook Time: 50 Minutes

Ingredients:

  • 2 large eggplants
  • 3–4 large bell peppers (red, yellow and/or green mixed)
  • 2 medium red onions
  • 5 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1 and 1/2 Jars of spaghetti sauce — Use a good one! (Right now I’m using Victoria Vegan’s Sauce because it has cannellini beans in it. The beans give it a creamy/meaty texture. You could also just mix a can of beans into a good marinara.)
  • 2 cups of raw spinach
  • 2 cups of mozzarella or non-dairy mozzarella cheese (I use Daiya, yum)
  • salt and pepper, to taste
Directions:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Peel the eggplant, slice into 1/4-inch slices. Place on a cookie sheet (greased w/Pam) and season with salt and pepper. Bake for 20 minutes or until fork tender. Meanwhile, chop the onions, garlic, and peppers. Sauté together until soft.

Once the eggplant is cooked, lightly grease a 9×13-inch casserole dish. Spread half the pepper/onion mixture over the bottom. Layer 1 cup of spinach over the mixture, followed by about 1/2 cup of the cheese. Place half the eggplant into overlapping layers, like noodles. Pour 1/2 jar of sauce over the eggplant. Continue to layer: Pepper mixture, spinach, cheese, eggplant. Pour the remaining sauce over the entire mixture. Use the rest of the cheese to top. Bake for 30 more minutes. Scoop carefully!

References:

  1. Available at: http://www.ucl.ac.uk/news/news-articles/0414/010413-fruit-veg-consumption-death-risk/. Accessed April 4, 2014.

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