Fruits and Berries and Veggies – Oh My!

7 forks, each with a single vegetable or piece of fruit on the tines, against a silver background

Well folks, here in the Pacific Northwest, and probably where you live too, summertime is such a great season for finding all sorts of fresh and delicious fruits, berries and vegetables to eat!  Our farmers’ markets just overflow with all things tasty, local and wonderful.  It is easy to want to enjoy all these healthy foods.

Did you know that eating fruits, berries and vegetables decreases our risk of dying from any cause?  You know they are healthy for us.  You probably know they lower our chances of developing heart disease or cancer.  Now, a big study  just published in the European Journal of Nutrition concluded that “increased consumption of vegetables, fruits and berries was associated with a delayed risk of all-causes of mortality and of mortality due to cancer and stroke.”

This study followed 10,000 Norwegian men for 40 years, from 1968 to 2008. This is a huge study, for 2 reasons:  the total number of people in the study, and the long duration of the study.  The amount of scientific data that can be gathered from such large numbers gives solid data about long-term food intake.  The results showed:

  • Eating any combination of fruits, berries or vegetables at least 27 times per month showed an 8-10% reduced risk of death compared to those with lower consumption
  • 27 servings per month decreased the chance of death from a stroke by 20%
  • The higher the fruit consumption, the lower the risk of death from cancer

Now, this study was done in Norway.  The  typical “Nordic Diet”, consists of whole-grain products, rapeseed oil, fish meals three times per week and dairy products low in fat. Locally sourced and easily accessible fruits, berries and vegetables are also in the mix, including apples, pears, plums, various berry types, root vegetables, legumes and different kinds of cabbage.  So, an average of 27 servings of fruits, berries or vegetables per month is not a huge amount and even that makes a significant difference in life expectancy and lower levels of heart disease and stroke.

In my blog from July 5th,  we looked at other studies that gave the numbers on eating even more servings.  The data there was for both men and women and showed that eating about 120 servings per month (4 servings a day) decreased death risk by  29%.  Eating over 200 servings per month (7 servings per day) decreased it by 42%!!

OK, I know you get the point.  These are so healthy to include in your family’s diet. Fresh, pesticide-free, organic is the best choice for sure.  Of course the frozen and canned options are quick and convenient, too and will always work in a pinch. Fruits and berries and vegetables … oh my!!  Yumm….


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