There’s no doubt that eating your fruits and veggies will make Mom happy. But it may also save your life. A growing body of research suggests that consuming a diet rich in fruits and vegetables can help prevent death from some coronary, respiratory and digestive problems.
In fact, 6.7 million deaths worldwide were attributed to inadequate fruit and vegetable consumption in 2010, according to the World Health Organization’s website.
If you need a little extra convincing…
Here are five lifesaving reasons you need the nutrients from fruits and vegetables.
- They cut your risk of dying from heart disease:
Research from Oxford University suggests that supercharging the amounts of fruits and vegetables in your diet will decrease your risk of dying from heart disease. Researchers in Europe followed more than 300,000 people for some eight years. They found those who ate at least eight servings of fruits and vegetables a day were 22 percent less likely to die from ischemic heart disease (IHD) than those who had fewer than three portions. Can’t manage eight servings of fruits and veggies a day? Every increase counts. For every serving above three you eat, your risk of dying from heart disease goes down by 4 percent.
- You are less likely to die from diseases of the respiratory system:
In the European Prospective Investigation into Cancer and Nutrition study involving more than 450,000 participants, researchers discovered that those ingesting more than 569g of fruits and vegetables daily had a 27-percent reduction in dying from respiratory problems compared with those ingesting less than 249g per day.
- You are less likely to die from problems with your gut:
The same study showed participants were also less likely to die from problems from digestive-related diseases. Not only are the nutrients in fruits and vegetables lifesaving, they can also help keep your digestive system running smoothly. Fruits and vegetables are high in fiber, which plays an important role in digestion. For example, the pectin in apples can improve your digestion, and bananas can provide good bacteria for the gut. Vegetables, too, are rich in fiber, although some raw vegetables like broccoli may cause discomfort and bloating as you start to eat more of them.
- They help fight obesity:
Worldwide, obesity has more than doubled since 1980, per the World Health Organization. Being overweight or obese is associated with a higher risk of premature death, says the Harvard School of Public Health. Fruits and vegetables are nutrient-dense while being low in calories, making them an important tool in the fight against obesity.
- They reduce your risk of stroke:
“Boosting fruit and vegetable consumption worldwide may reduce the global impact of stroke,” says the American Stroke Association. It recommends at least 4-5 servings of fruits and veggies a day for the average person, based on a 2,000-calorie diet.
Easy as A … B … C
Adding any fruit or vegetable to your diet is a good start. But to really power-punch the health benefits of nature’s finest, start with nutrients from the ABCs.
Apples – This superstar fruit has it all: important dietary fiber, antioxidants and flavonoids.
Berries – This group of fruits is loaded with antioxidants that prevent cellular damage and boost brain power.
Cruciferous vegetables – Bok choy, broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower and kale are a few examples of cruciferous vegetables that may play a role in inhibiting some cancers. Researchers are studying cruciferous vegetables for their cancer-preventing qualities, according to the National Cancer Institute. These vegetables are packed with vitamins, minerals, fiber and phytochemicals.