10 Surprising Reasons to Eat More Leafy Greens

shelves full of leafy greens

Take a look at smart-eating plans or diets. Leafy greens like spinach, broccoli, kale, and cabbage are usually on the list of foods you should eat.

Mediterranean diet, check. Paleo diet, check. Keto diet, check. DASH diet, check.

Plus, recipes for leafy-green salads, smoothies, and side dishes are everywhere.

Why? Because leafy greens are good for you.

They’re packed with vitamins and nutrients. They’re low in calories. They’re affordable (unlike some diets that require buying expensive products).

You can add leafy greens to your diet with little to no prep time. And studies show leafy greens provide important health benefits such as: (1)

  • Reduce the risk for a heart attack or stroke
  • Lower the risk for type 2 diabetes
  • Control blood pressure
  • Improve bone health
  • Lower cholesterol
  • Reduce inflammation
  • Prevent certain types of cancer
  • Improve bowel health
  • Control hunger and aid in weight management
  • Prevent age-related memory loss

Are you eating enough leafy greens?

Probably not. Most adults don’t eat enough leafy greens and other vegetables. In fact only 10 percent do. (2)

If you want to change your eating habits, improve your health, and feel better, eating more leafy greens can help.

The goal: Eat 2 to 3 cups of vegetables per day, including leafy greens, like: (3)

  • Kale
  • Collard greens
  • Spinach
  • Cabbage
  • Beet greens
  • Watercress
  • Romaine Lettuce
  • Swiss chard
  • Arugula
  • Endive
  • Bok choy
  • Turnip greens

9 easy ways to eat more leafy greens

Hungry for ways to eat healthier? Eating more leafy greens doesn’t have to be hard.

Check out these 9 easy ways to add more “green” to your diet.

  • Build a bowl – Add leafy greens to a burrito bowl.
  • Pizza topping – Use spinach as a topping for thin-crust pizza.
  • Breakfast of champions – Cook eggs or egg-whites with arugula
  • Splendid blended – Make a green smoothie with fruits and vegetables, including leafy greens
  • Dress up noodles – Add Bok choy to noodles
  • Soup’s on – Make soup that includes leafy greens
  • Munch n’ crunch – Bake your own kale chips
  • Dip it – Add spinach to homemade hummus
  • The classic – Eat more leafy-green salads

Want to be healthier, feel better, and live longer? Eat more leafy greens.

References

  1. Wang, D., et al. (2021). Fruit and vegetable intake and mortality: Results from 2 prospective cohort studies of U.S. men and women and a meta-analysis of 26 cohort studies. Circulation, 143:00-00. From: https://www.ahajournals.org/doi/10.1161/CIRCULATIONAHA.120.048996
  2. Lee, S.H., et al. (2022). Adults meeting fruit and vegetable intake recommendations — United States, 2019. Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report, 71(1): 1-9. From: https://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/volumes/71/wr/mm7101a1.htm
  3. U.S. Department of Agriculture. (2021). Vegetables. MyPlate. From: https://www.myplate.gov/eat-healthy/vegetables

5 Reasons to Take a Multivitamin

bowl of colorful vitamins

Ever wonder if taking a multivitamin is worth it?

Before you pop a pill, take a closer look at your diet.

Eating fruits, vegetables, whole grains, fish, lean meats, nuts, seeds, and legumes is the best way to get all the vitamins and nutrients your body needs for best health.

But what if your diet isn’t perfect?

The truth: Most people could use a little help eating healthier foods, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: (1)

  • Fruits. Only 12.3 percent of adults eat the recommended amount of fruits per day (1.5 to 2 cups per day)
  • Vegetables. Only 10 percent eat enough vegetables (2 to 3 cups per day).

And that means most adults come up short when it comes to vitamins and nutrients the body needs to promote health and prevent disease.

If you struggle to eat healthy, you’re not alone. So what can you do to get the vitamins and nutrients you need?

Taking a multivitamin can help, according to a recent study published the Journal of Functional Foods.2

In the study, researchers found taking a multivitamin for 30 days helped people (both men and women), improve:

  1. Vitamin B6: Your body uses vitamin B6 to break down proteins, fats and carbs from the food you eat. It’s also helps prevent heart disease, strengthens the immune system, and supports brain health
  2. Vitamin B12: Your body needs vitamin B12 to produce red blood cells. It also helps support brain function and nerves. Some research suggests higher levels of B12 can also help prevent bone fractures.
  3. Vitamin K: Your body uses vitamin K to form blood clots and strengthen bone tissue. It may also help prevent hardening of the arteries.
  4. Vitamin D: Vitamin D helps strengthen bones, reduces inflammation, and helps prevent and control infections. Vitamin D may also help prevent heart disease, certain types of cancer, type 2 diabetes, and early death.
  5. HDL cholesterol: Also known as good cholesterol. Higher levels of HDL cholesterol help lower the risk for heart attack and stroke by preventing plaque build-up that can damage arteries.

Do you need to take a multivitamin? It depends on a wide variety of factors.

  • Nutritional needs are different based on age and gender.
  • Your diet makes a difference.
  • If you’re taking medications or have health issues, your ability to absorb nutrients from food may be compromised.

Not sure? Talk to your doctor. A simple blood test can identify any nutrient deficiencies you may have.3 Then you can make a plan to improve your diet and lifestyle habits. And that could include taking a daily multivitamin.

Sources:

  1. L.H., S., et al. (2022). Adults meeting fruit and vegetable intake recommendations — United States, 2019. Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report, 71(1): 1-9. From: https://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/volumes/71/wr/mm7101a1.htm
  2. Levy, M., et al. (2019). Consumption of a multivitamin/multimineral supplement for 4 weeks improves nutritional status and markers of cardiovascular health. Journal of Functional Foods, 62:103511. From: https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S1756464619304359
  3. Harvard University. (2023). Should I take a daily multivitamin? The Nutrition Source. From: https://www.hsph.harvard.edu/nutritionsource/multivitamin/

Deck the Halls with Avocados: A Gift for the Heart

avocados in a bundle

Setting out a Christmas Eve snack for Santa? It’s no wonder the Jolly Old Elf is obese and packs a big, round belly in that red suit. There isn’t enough holiday magic in the world to turn a plate of cookies and a glass of whole milk into healthy foods.

In fact, dairy products, animal fats, and foods made with butter and cream are high in saturated fat. Too much raises LDL (bad) cholesterol levels. Over time, this can block blood vessels and limit blood flow to the heart and brain. Bad cholesterol raises the risk for a heart attack or stroke. (1)

Maybe it’s time to give Santa something else to eat other than cookies and milk.

  • Question: What’s a heart healthy holiday snack? It’s good. It’s green. And it contains healthy fats that help lower bad cholesterol.
  • Answer: Deck the halls and your plate with avocados.

A recent study showed just how healthy avocados can be. Eating one a day for five weeks helped obese people lower bad cholesterol. (2)

Healthy fats and antioxidants in avocados can also help:

  • Prevent plaque build-up on artery walls
  • Reduce the risk for heart attack or stroke
  • Lower the risk for certain types of cancer
  • Improve blood pressure
  • Lower triglycerides
  • Support brain function
  • Control hunger and aid in weight management

Hungry for better health this holiday season?

Here are three easy ways to add more avocados to your diet:

  • Spread avocado on whole-grain toast.
  • Try veggie dip made with avocado.
  • Add avocado slices to a salad or sandwich.

And leave a healthy snack for Santa and his crew: Guacamole for the Big Guy and carrot sticks for the reindeer.

References

  1. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2023). LDL and HDL cholesterol and triglycerides. From: https://www.cdc.gov/cholesterol/ldl_hdl.htm
  2. Wang, L. et al. (2020). A moderate-fat diet with one avocado per day increases plasma antioxidants and decreases the oxidation of small, dense LDL in adults with overweight and obesity: A randomized controlled trial. Journal of Nutrition, 150(2): 276-284. From: https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/31616932/

How to DASH Away High Blood Pressure

healthy assorted foods surrounding the word "dash"

Is your blood pressure naughty or nice? When Santa Claus finally takes a day off to get his blood pressure checked, he’s probably in for a surprise. All those cookies, eggnog, extra pounds, and sitting in the sleigh are bad for the heart.

If your blood pressure (or your belly) looks anything like a jolly, old elf you’ll need to make some changes.

You’re on the Naughty List if…your blood pressure is 120/80 or higher. In case you’re wondering, nearly half of all adults in the U.S. have high blood pressure.1

High blood pressure: 7 reasons to stay off the Naughty List

So what’s the big deal with high blood pressure? It’s called the ‘silent killer,’ because there are often no symptoms, even though high blood pressure can take a toll on your body.

Left unchecked, high blood pressure can increase the risk for:

  • Damage to the circulatory system
  • Stroke
  • Vision loss
  • Heart failure
  • Heart attack
  • Kidney damage
  • Sexual dysfunction

But you can change that with the DASH diet…Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension.

Research shows that the DASH diet can help lower blood pressure by 5 points or more in just four weeks.2 That could be low enough to put you on the Nice List!

DASH diet food guidelines

Ready to DASH away high blood pressure? Start by improving your diet. Here’s how:

  • Eat vegetables, fruits, and whole grains.
  • Choose fat-free or low-fat dairy products.
  • Include healthy proteins like fish, poultry, beans and nuts
  • Use healthy oils for cooking (like olive oil or avocado oil)
  • Limit foods high in saturated fats like fried food, red or processed meats, or full-fat dairy products
  • Avoid or limit sugary drinks and snacks.

Making changes to your diet can help lower blood pressure and improve your health.
But don’t stop there. Regular exercise helps control blood pressure, too. Aim for at least 30 minutes of physical activity per day. And you may be on the Nice List soon.

References

  1. American Heart Association. (2023). The facts about high blood pressure. From: https://www.heart.org/en/health-topics/high-blood-pressure/the-facts-about-high-blood-pressure
  2. Juraschek, S., et al. (2017). Effects of sodium reduction and the DASH diet in relation to baseline blood
    pressure. Journal of the American College of Cardiology, 70: 23. From: https://www.jacc.org/doi/10.1016/j.jacc.2017.10.011

The Breakfast Club: 4 Reasons a Healthy-Morning Meal Matters

assorted healthy breakfast foods

What’s for breakfast? If your morning meal looks anything like Buddy the Elf’s favorite dish, it’s time to pick some healthier options.

In the movie Elf, Buddy (played by Will Ferrell), piles a plate with spaghetti for breakfast. Then he tops it with marshmallows, sugary candy, maple syrup, chocolate sauce, and pastries.

Not exactly healthy, right? Maybe you should just skip breakfast.

That may not be the best option either, according to the American Heart Association. (1)

The trouble with skipping breakfast

An estimated 25 percent of people in the U.S. skip breakfast regularly. (2)

Many who bypass the morning meal do so because they’re running late. Some forgo breakfast because they think it will help control calories or support weight loss.

But research shows skipping breakfast is associated with:

  • Higher risk for heart disease, diabetes, high cholesterol, and high blood pressure
  • Eating snacks and drinks high in sugar and sodium later in the day
  • Weight gain and obesity
  • Lack of energy, or feeling of fatigue and tiredness
  • Depression
  • Increased levels of stress and irritability
  • Trouble sleeping
  • Lack of exercise

4 reasons to make breakfast healthy

If you regularly skip breakfast, or you start the day with donuts, fast food, sugary coffee drinks or a heaping pile of pancakes with syrup, now is always a good time to make a change.

Hungry for better health? Check out these four reasons to start your day with a healthy breakfast:

1. Prevent weight gain

In the National Weight Control Registry, 78 percent of the 3,000 people who lost 30 pounds or more and kept it off for a year said they ate breakfast every day. (3)

Plus, people who skip breakfast are 55 percent more likely to be overweight or obese.

2. Control blood sugar levels

If you don’t have diabetes, you probably know someone who does. About 34 million people have type 2 diabetes. About 96 million have prediabetes.

Left unchecked, it can lead to poor circulation, heart disease, stroke, obesity, blindness, amputations, and early death.

Research shows eating a healthy breakfast can help prevent or control diabetes and regulate blood sugar levels. (4)

3. Lower cholesterol

Want to avoid a heart attack caused by blocked arteries? Keep your cholesterol under control.

In a recent study, researchers found that eating whole-grain oats daily helped lower LDL (bad) cholesterol and total cholesterol. (5)

4. Improve brain function

Want to start the day out right? Need help staying alert and engaged during that morning meeting? Start with breakfast. Research shows eating a healthy breakfast can have a positive impact on mood, memory, creativity, decision-making, and attention. (6)

10 healthy-breakfast ideas for busy people

If you’re among the millions who rush out the door without breakfast, or you’re inclined to go for pastries and sweets to start your day, you need a better breakfast plan.

Put these 10 fast & healthy breakfast ideas on your menu:

  1. The 3-Way: A banana, a handful of pecans, and low-fat yogurt.
  2. Whole-Grain Sweetness: Whole-grain cereal sprinkled with berries and slivered almonds.
  3. Yogi Surprise: Low-fat yogurt mixed with fruit and whole-grain granola.
  4. Egg + 2: Egg whites or egg substitute served with fresh fruit and whole-grain toast.
  5. Fruit-Blender Fun: A fruit smoothie made with frozen berries, banana, and ice.
  6. The Whole Spread: Whole-grain toast topped with peanut butter, avocado, or low-fat cream cheese.
  7. Smooth Move: A strawberry, melon, and yogurt smoothie with flaxseed.
  8. Healthy Double Trouble: Fruit salad and a whole-grain muffin.
  9. Oat That’s Sweet: Steel-cut oats with berries.
  10. Wrap It Up: Breakfast burrito (fill a whole-wheat tortilla with sautéed onions, peppers, mushrooms, yams, and tomatoes seasoned with garlic and thyme).

Eating a healthy breakfast isn’t hard. But you do need to do a little work to make it happen.

  • Make a shopping list of healthy breakfast foods that you like.
  • Go to the store to stock up on everything you need.

When you wake up in the morning, put together a healthy breakfast and be on your way. It’s that easy.

Sources

  1. American Heart Association. (2017). How to make breakfast a healthy habit. From: https://www.heart.org/en/healthy-living/healthy-eating/eat-smart/nutrition-basics/how-to-make-breakfast-a-healthy-habit
  2. Pengpid, S., et al. (2020). Skipping breakfast and its association with health risk behavior and mental health among university students in 28 countries. Diabetes, Metabolic Syndrome and Obesity. Targets and Therapy, 13:2889-2897. From: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7443458/
  3. Dow, C. (2015). Breakfast consumption and weight loss. American Society for Nutrition. From: https://nutrition.org/breakfast-consumption-weight-loss/
  4. Jakubowicz, D., et al. (2015). High-energy breakfast with low-energy dinner decreases overall daily hyperglycemia in type 2 diabetic patients: A randomized clinical trial. Dibetologia, 58(5):912-919. From: https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s00125-015-3524-9?sv1
  5. Hollaender, P., et al. (2015). Whole-grain and blood lipid changes in apparently healthy adults: A systematic review and meta-analysis of randomized controlled studies. American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 102(3):556-278. From: https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0002916523126955?via%3Dihub
  6. Tang, Z., et al. (2017). The effects of breakfast on short-term cognitive function among Chinese white-collar workers: protocol for a three-phase crossover study. BMC Public Health. From: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5241917/

Boost Your Health: 7 Benefits of Vitamin B12

pill exploding with healthy foods that contain vitamin B12

How’s your vitamin B12 level? Chances are pretty good you have no idea. Right?

Vitamin B12 levels aren’t routinely tested, unless your doctor thinks you might be deficient. Vegetarians and people over 50 are the most likely to be deficient in vitamin B12. (1)

What does vitamin B12 do?

Vitamin B12 is a water-soluble vitamin that helps turn the food you eat into energy. But it’s not produced in the body.

You need to get vitamin B12 from food sources or take a supplement to give your body energy for things like movement, brain function, digestion, the immune system, and your heart.

Good sources of vitamin B12 include: meats, fish, dairy products, and fortified cereals and drinks, and supplements. But if your diet doesn’t include enough of these foods and you haven’t been taking a supplement, your vitamin B12 levels could be low.

Symptoms of vitamin B12 deficiency

If you are deficient, low vitamin B12 symptoms may include:

  • Anemia
  • Swollen tongue
  • Fatigue
  • Irregular heartbeat
  • Pale skin
  • Dementia
  • Depression
  • Weight loss
  • Digestive issues
  • Reproductive problems
  • Numbness or tingling in the hands and feet

7 powerful health benefits of vitamin B12

Wondering how much vitamin B12 do you need for best health?

Health experts recommend: (2)

  • Eating at least 3 servings of foods high in vitamin B12 per day.
  • If you’re not getting enough vitamin B12 in your diet, take a vitamin B12 supplement of 250 micrograms per day.
  • Seniors, vegetarians, and people who have had bariatric surgery should all take a vitamin B12 supplement.

Check out these powerful benefits of getting adequate vitamin B12 from food and supplements: (3)

  1. Energy boost: Vitamin B12 helps turn the food you eat into energy. It helps your body convert carbohydrates into glucose, which is used as fuel for energy. Low energy? You could be vitamin B12 deficient.
  2. Brain power: Vitamin B12 supports your nervous system, cognitive function, memory, and concentration. In the long run, it may reduce the risk of cognitive decline and disorders like dementia.
  3. Mood makeover: Sufficient vitamin B12 levels are associated with better mental health and helps regulate hormones that control mood and emotion. Low vitamin B12 levels have been linked to mood disorders and depression.
  4. Healthy heart: Vitamin B12 helps control a chemical in the blood that can raise the risk of heart disease, heart attack, stroke, and blood clots.
  5. Red blood cell boost: You need vitamin B12 to form healthy red blood cells to carry oxygen throughout the body. Low levels or a deficiency can lead to anemia, weakness, fatigue, dizziness, poor balance, and shortness of breath.
  6. Gut check: As you age, if you’ve had bariatric surgery, or a malabsorption disorder, your ability to absorb vitamin B12 declines. Without enough vitamin B12, you may experience digestive issues, but taking a supplement can help.

Your body needs vitamin B12 to stay energized, keep your brain and nerves healthy, support strong red blood cells, maintain a happy heart, and support your digestive system. Choose foods high in vitamin B12, take a supplement or both.

References

  1. National Institutes of Health. (2022). Vitamin B12. From: https://ods.od.nih.gov/factsheets/VitaminB12-HealthProfessional/
  2. Greger, M. (2023). The symptoms of vitamin B12 deficiency and optimal dosage for adults. NutritionFacts.org. From: https://nutritionfacts.org/video/friday-favorites-the-symptoms-of-vitamin-b12-deficiency-and-optimal-dosage-for-adults/
  3. Harvard University. (2022). Should you take a vitamin B12 supplement? Harvard Health Publishing. From: https://www.health.harvard.edu/staying-healthy/should-you-take-a-vitamin-b12-supplement

Eat This to Prevent Age-Related Memory Loss

When university professor Alice Howland (played by Julianne Moore), starts forgetting things in the movie Still Alice, she knows something isn’t right.

She stops mid-sentence during a lecture. She gets disoriented on a familiar run. She struggles to remember simple details.

And then she gets the news…Alzheimer’s disease.

An estimated 6.5 million people in the U.S. are living with Alzheimer’s disease or dementia.1 It’s a brain disease that damages thought, memory and learning. And there is no cure.

Feast on plant-based foods to protect your brain

But it’s not all bad news. A recent study found that eating more plant-based foods may lower the risk for dementia, Alzheimer’s disease, and age-related memory loss.2

“A higher intake of fruits, vegetables, and plant-based foods…could help reduce the risk of cognitive decline due to aging,” says the study’s co-author Dr. Cristina Andrés-Lacueva.

Researchers found that chemical properties in certain plant-based foods may help protect the brain from age-related memory loss. These include:

    • Cocoa
    • Coffee
    • Mushrooms
    • Red wine
    • Apples
    • Green tea
    • Blueberries
    • Oranges
    • Pomegranates

But even other plant-based foods, like fruit, leafy greens, and legumes, provide protective benefits to the brain and body.

In contrast, researchers found that artificial sweeteners may increase the risk for age-related memory loss and dementia.

If you want to keep your brain healthy as you get older, now is always the best time to start.

Sources

1. Alzheimer’s Association. (2022). 2022 Alzheimer’s disease facts and figures. Alzheimer’s & Dementia, 18(4): 700-789. From: https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/35289055/

2. Gonzalez, Dominguez, R., et al. (2021). Food and microbiota metabolites associate with cognitive decline in older subjects: A 12-year prospective study. Molecular Nutrition & Food Research, 65(23). From: https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1002/mnfr.202100606

4 Ways Fiber-Rich Foods Improve Your Health

Eat more fiber. You’ve probably heard the advice before. But why eat more fiber? Fiber is good for your health for a variety of different reasons. And most adults don’t eat enough of it.

    • Women should eat 25 grams of fiber per day.1
    • Men should eat 38 grams of fiber per day.

In fact, most adults only eat about 15 grams of fiber per day. And that’s a problem. If you don’t eat enough fiber, it can have a negative impact on your heart health, digestion, blood sugar levels, weight and longevity.

Here are four ways fiber-rich foods improve your health:

1. Support heart health

Eating foods high in fiber can help improve cholesterol, lower blood pressure, and aid in weight management. These are important factors that help prevent heart disease, the leading cause of death in the United States.

Research shows following a high-fiber diet may cut your risk for heart disease by 40 percent.2

2. Improve digestion

A diet rich in fiber improves bowel health. Fiber helps prevent constipation. If you’re constipated, it’s often caused by not eating enough fiber, not drinking enough water, and lack of exercise.

3. Prevent or control diabetes

About 37 million people in the United States have type 2 diabetes. Another 96 million people have pre-diabetes.3

However, it’s largely preventable with diet, exercise, and healthy lifestyle habits. This includes eating foods high in fiber.

Research shows eating a fiber-rich diet can help control blood sugar levels, and prevent diabetes.4

Even if you already have diabetes, fiber helps slow digestion and regulate blood sugar levels. Sugary snacks, drinks, processed foods, and even too much red meat can raise your risk for diabetes.

4. Help you live longer

Want to live longer and be healthier? Eat more fiber-rich foods.

Aiming for a high-fiber diet could lower your risk for early death from heart disease and other chronic conditions, according to the American Heart Association.

One study found that eating fiber cut the risk of diabetes by 20 percent. It’s one of the leading causes of death in the United States.5

Eat more fiber-rich foods

Now you know a little more about the health benefits of eating more fiber. Aim for 25 to 38 grams of fiber per day.

Foods high in fiber include:

    • Fruits (raspberries, apples, bananas, oranges, strawberries)
    • Vegetables (carrots, beets, broccoli, cauliflower)
    • Whole grains (cereal, bread, oats, whole grain pasta)
    • Legumes. They’re highest in fiber of all foods (beans, lentils, peas)
    • Nuts and seeds (flax meal, sunflower seeds, squash/pumpkin seeds, almonds, peanuts, etc.)

Want to feel better, be healthier and live longer? Eat more fiber.

Sources:

1. Larson, H. (2019). Easy ways to boost fiber in your daily diet. Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. From: https://www.eatright.org/health/essential-nutrients/carbohydrates/easy-ways-to-boost-fiber-in-your-daily-diet

2. Harvard University. (2020). Fiber. The Nutrition Source. From: https://www.hsph.harvard.edu/nutritionsource/carbohydrates/fiber/

3. American Diabetes Association. (2023). Diabetes statistics: Examine the facts. From: https://diabetes.org/about-us/statistics

4. Zhao, L., et al. (2018). Gut bacteria selectively promoted by dietary fibers alleviate type 2 diabetes. Science, 359(6380): 1151-1156. From: https://www.science.org/doi/10.1126/science.aao5774

5. Satjia, A., et al. (2016). Plant-based dietary patterns and incidence of type 2 diabetes in U.S. men and women: Results from three prospective cohort studies. PLOS Medicine. From: https://journals.plos.org/plosmedicine/article?id=10.1371/journal.pmed.1002039

5 Sweet Health Benefits of Eating Fruit

Fresh fruit composition on a white background, healthy eating concept

Are you eating enough fruit? Probably not. Only 12 percent of adults eat the minimum amount of fruit, according to a recent study.1

So how much fruit should you be eating?

  • The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends adults eat 1.5 to 2 cups of fruit per day.

Take a look at what you typically eat in a day to find out if you’re getting enough fruit in your diet.

If fruit is already a regular part of your diet, keep up the good work. If you’re short on fruit, add your favorite fruits to meals and snacks.

Snack on these fruity health benefits

Fruits are loaded with vitamins and nutrients. Most fruits are also naturally low in calories, fat, and sodium and are cholesterol-free. They’re also a good source of water and fiber (unlike most junk foods).

Hungry for better health?

Check out these 5 sweet and healthy reasons to eat more fruit:

1. Live longer

If you want to live a long and healthy life, eat more fruits and vegetables. In a recent study by the American Heart Association, researchers found that eating at least 2 servings of fruit and 3 servings of vegetables per day may help you live longer.2

Eating this way also lowered the risk for heart disease, stroke, certain types of cancer, and lung-related diseases.

2. Control blood pressure

Did you know about 50 percent of all adults have high blood pressure? It’s a risk factor for heart disease, stroke, and other health problems.

Research shows eating fruits like apples and berries can help control blood pressure.3

3. Improve cholesterol

How’s your cholesterol level? Without a blood test, you probably don’t know. But when LDL (bad) cholesterol is high, it’s a risk factor for blocked arteries and other health problems.

The good news…research shows eating fruits like apples, pears, oranges, and other citrus fruits can help control cholesterol.4

4. Lower heart disease risk

Heart disease is the leading cause of death in the United States. About 659,000 people a year die from heart disease in the U.S. But it’s largely preventable.

Research shows, meeting the recommended intake of fruits and vegetables can help lower your risk for heart disease by about 28 percent.5

5. Aid in weight management

About 74 percent of all U.S. adults are overweight or obese. Poor nutrition and lack of exercise are the prime reasons for this problem.

Eating more fruit can help support weight loss and prevent weight gain.6

Just don’t overdo it. Some dried fruits contain as many calories as a candy bar (250 calories), and one banana contains about 100 calories.

How to boost your daily dose of fruits and vegetables

If you’re in the habit of eating 1.5 to 2 cups of fruit per day, keep it up. If you’re not, here are some ways to boost your daily dose of fruit:

Breakfast

    • Top off a bowl of whole-grain cereal or oatmeal with peaches or berries.
    • Make a fruit smoothie with low-fat yogurt, and frozen strawberries and blueberries.
    • Instead of skipping breakfast, grab an apple or banana before you head out the door.

Lunch

    • If you go out for lunch, make a trip through the salad bar for fresh fruit like pineapple, watermelon, or pears.
      Pack your own lunch and include an orange, grapes, or apple slices.

Dinner

    • Make a salad with orange slices, dried cranberries, or grapes.
    • Try a Waldorf salad recipe with apples, celery, walnuts, and a low-calorie dressing.
    • Add crushed pineapple to coleslaw.

Snacks

    • Buy fresh fruit at a grocery store or local farmer’s market.
    • Keep a bowl of whole fruit on the table, counter, or in the refrigerator.
    • Try peanut butter on apple slices or a serving of applesauce.

Sources

1. Lee, S.H., et al. (2022). Adults meeting fruit and vegetable intake recommendations. Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report, 71(1): 1-9. From: https://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/volumes/71/wr/mm7101a1.htm

2. Wang, D., et al. (2021). Fruit and vegetable intake and mortality. Circulation, 143:17. From: From: https://www.ahajournals.org/doi/10.1161/CIRCULATIONAHA.120.048996

3. Ottaviani, J., et al. (2020). Biomarker-estimated flavan-3-ol intake is associated with lower blood pressure in cross-sectional analysis in EPIC Norfolk. Scientific Reports, 10:19764. From: https://www.nature.com/articles/s41598-020-74863-7

4. Aune, D., et al. (2017). Fruit and vegetable intake and the risk of cardiovascular disease, total cancer and all-cause mortality—a systematic review and dose-response meta-analysis of prospective studies. International Journal of Epidemiology, 46(3): 1029-1056. From: https://academic.oup.com/ije/article/46/3/1029/3039477

5. Harvard University. (2017). Fruits and vegetables for heart health: More is better. Harvard Health Publishing. From:
https://www.health.harvard.edu/heart-health/fruits-and-vegetables-for-heart-health-more-is-better

6. Dreher, M., et al. (2020). A comprehensive critical assessment of increased fruit and vegetable intake on weight loss in women. Nutrients, 12(7): 1919. From: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7399879/

Food is Medicine: 10 Surprising Reasons to Eat Healthy Foods

Healthy-food-in-heart-stethoscope

You’re not feeling well, so make a doctor’s appointment. Your doctor asks you some questions, completes an exam, and maybe orders a test. And then your doctor writes you the following prescription: Eat healthy food.

That’s it. No medication, no course of antibiotics, nothing but healthy foods. That might seem a little crazy, but there’s a growing movement for “Food is Medicine” to treat and prevent a long list of health conditions.1

Want to improve your health, prevent disease and live longer?

Here are 10 surprising reasons to eat more fruits, vegetables, whole grains, legumes, nuts, seeds and other whole, fresh, and unprocessed foods:

1. Manage your weight

If you’re like most people, you’ve probably struggled with your weight at some point in your life. But did you know that simply eating more fruits and vegetables can help you maintain a healthy weight? Studies show that people who eat more fruits and veggies tend to have a lower Body Mass Index (BMI) than those who don’t.2

2. Reduce risk for chronic disease

Eating a healthy diet can also reduce your risk of chronic diseases like: heart disease, diabetes, and cancer. This is because a balanced diet rich in nutrients and antioxidants helps your body fight off inflammation and oxidative stress, which are major contributors to these diseases.3

3. Improve gut health

Your gut is home to trillions of bacteria that play a crucial role in your overall health. By eating a diet rich in fiber, prebiotics, and probiotics, you can feed the good bacteria in your gut and keep them happy and healthy.4

4. Keep your brain healthy

Want to keep your brain healthy as you age? Research shows that eating certain foods, like fatty fish and leafy greens, can improve cognitive function and even reduce your risk of dementia.5

5. Reduce inflammation

Healthy eating can also help reduce inflammation in your body, which is a major contributor to many chronic diseases. Certain foods, like berries and leafy greens, are packed with anti-inflammatory compounds that can help keep your body healthy.6

6. Boost your mood

If you’re feeling down, eating a healthy diet can also improve your mood. Studies have shown that certain nutrients, like omega-3 fatty acids and vitamin D, can help reduce symptoms of depression and anxiety.7

7. Strengthen your immune system

Eating a balanced diet can also boost your immune system, helping you fight off infections and stay healthy. Foods high in vitamin C, like citrus fruits and bell peppers, are especially good for immune function.8

8. Improve sleep quality

If you’re looking to get a good night’s sleep, eating a healthy diet can help with that, too! Certain foods, like tart cherries and kiwis, contain compounds that can help regulate your sleep cycle and improve the quality of your sleep.9

9. Support healthy skin

Eating more fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and other fresh, whole and unprocessed foods can also improve your skin health. If you’re looking for a “magic pill” to make you feel better, look no further than your plate, and add more fruits and vegetables.10

Eating a healthy diet can have all kinds of amazing benefits for your body and mind.

10. Help you live longer

If you want to live a long and healthy life, research suggests that eating more fruits, vegetables, whole grains, legumes, nuts, and seeds, may extend your life by up to 10 years.11

That’s 10 easy-to-digest reasons that Food is Medicine. If you want to improve your health, feel better, lower your risk for disease, and live longer, take a closer look at what you eat.

Sources:

1. Graber, E. (2022). Food as Medicine. American Society for Nutrition. From: https://nutrition.org/food-as-medicine

2. Yu, Z.M., et al. (2018). Fruit and vegetable intake and body adiposity among populations in Eastern Canada: the Atlantic Partnership for Tomorrow’s Health Study. BMJ Open, 8(4): e018060. From: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5898328/

3. Schulze, M., et al. (2018). Food based dietary patterns and chronic disease prevention. British Medical Journal, 361:k2396. From: https://www.bmj.com/content/361/bmj.k2396

4. Song, M., et al. (2017). Diet, gut microbiota, and colorectal cancer prevention: A review of potential mechanisms and promising targets for future research. Current Colorectal Cancer Reports, 13(6): 429-439. From: https://europepmc.org/article/med/29333111

5. Canevelli, M., et al. (2016). Nutrition and dementia: Evident for preventive approaches? Nutrients, 8(3): 144. From: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4808873/

6. Zhu, F., et al. (2017). Anti-inflammatory effects of phytochemicals from fruits, vegetables, and food legumes: A review. Critical Reviews in Food Science and Nutrition, 58(8): 1260-1270. From: https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/28605204/

7. Taylor, A., et al. (2018). A review of dietary and microbial connections to depression, anxiety, and stress. Nutritional Neuroscience, 23(3): 237-250. From: https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/29985786/

8. Muntenanu, C., et al. (2022). The relationship between nutrition and the immune system. Frontiers in Nutrition. From: https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fnut.2022.1082500/full

9. Burrows, T., et al. (2020). Diet and sleep health: a scoping review of intervention studies in adults. Journal of HumFood is Medicinean Nutrition and Dietetics, 33(3): 308-329. From: https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/31985886/

10. Cao, C., et al. (2020). Diet and skin aging: From the perspective of food nutrition. Nutrients, 12(3): 870. From: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7146365/

11. Fadnes, L, et al. (2022). Estimating impact of food choices on life expectancy: A modeling study. PLOS Medicine, 19(3): e1003962. From: https://journals.plos.org/plosmedicine/article?id=10.1371/journal.pmed.1003889