The Center for Disease Control (CDC) reports that 88% of Americans are not eating the recommended amount of fruits and vegetables per day. The CDC recommends 10 portions of fruit and vegetables per day. While that may sound like a lot, it’s worth keeping in mind that a portion is quite small at only 80g, which is the equivalent of a small banana or a handful of blueberries.
Eating more fruits and vegetables can lower your chance of heart disease, stroke, cancer, and premature death. In fact, scientists say that if everyone ate 10 portions of fruits and vegetables it could prevent up to 7.8 million premature deaths worldwide per year.
Is eating some fruit and vegetables better than no fruit and vegetables?
For those among us who will never be able to eat 10 portions of fruit and vegetables, it’s worth noting that some fruits and vegetables are better than none. Just 200g, one-fourth of the recommended amount, results in an 18% reduced risk of stroke, a 13% reduced risk of cardiovascular disease, 4% reduced risk of cancer and a 15% reduction in the risk of premature death.
Eating 200g of fruit and vegetables is good, eating 800g of fruit and vegetables is even better. That level of intake results in a 24% reduced risk of heart disease, a 33% reduced risk of stroke, a 28% reduced risk of cardiovascular disease, a 13% reduced risk of total cancer, and a 31% reduction in premature deaths.
Which fruit and vegetables are the most effective?
Some fruit and vegetables are better than others. Citrus fruit, apples, pears, leafy greens, broccoli, cabbage, and cauliflower are the best at preventing strokes and heart disease.
The best cancer reducing fruits and vegetables are green beans, peppers, carrots, broccoli, cabbage, and cauliflower.
The researchers surprisingly did not see any different results with raw versus cooked fruit and vegetables.
So how do fruit and vegetables result in all these health benefits?
Broccoli and cauliflower are full of compounds called glucosinolates which activate enzymes that may help prevent cancer.
Fruit and vegetables reduce cholesterol levels, blood pressure, and boost your immune system. Plus, the antioxidants lead to a reduction in cancer risk.
Can’t I just take a multi-vitamin to get the same health benefits?
Not really. If you’re looking for a short-cut your best option is a large fruit & vegetable smoothie.
Any health benefits to fruit juice?
Yes, but it’s not nearly as impactful as simply eating the fruit of vegetables.
So what happens to me if I ignore this advice and eat no fruits and vegetables?
Your risk of heart disease, obesity, diabetes, high cholesterol, high blood pressure, and cancer will skyrocket.