The latest research published in the British Medical Journal, following 65,000 adults for eight years, shows something that might be expected: Fruits and vegetable give you a long, sweet life.
Before I discuss this, let me first note that I am an omnivore. Having said that, though, I must say I’ve changed my diet significantly since I was a child.
Mom’s idea of vegetables was canned peas (yuck) and mashed potatoes (yummy). No thought for fat – she used Crisco when she fried. Why? Because that was life in the 1950s.
We have known for quite some time how important perishables are in the diet, but this new study shows they are even more important than I ever dreamed.
Imagine if I gave you a pill that would cut your risk of stroke by 25 percent, heart disease by 31 percent and risk of death by 42 percent. If I put this in a package and called it the “Stay Well” pill, I could comfortably retire with several billion dollars in my pocket.
Well, friends, this is exactly what the study found. Seven – count them, seven – servings of fruits and vegetable will do that.
Now, before the groans start from you meat-and-potato guys – men are worse eaters than women – let me remind you what a serving is: ½ cup of fruits or vegetables, except for lettuce and spinach, which require a full cup per serving.
Do you really think that’s a lot? I certainly don’t. But only about one out of three of us eat even five servings a day, and this research showed it should be seven.
A bit more detail now: Vegetables were more beneficial than fruits. Each portion of salad or vegetables lowered the risk of death by a whopping 12 percent to 15 percent.
Fresh and dried fruit – including raisins, apricots and cranberries – showed protective qualities, but canned fruit did not. In fact, canned fruit increased the death rate by 17 percent. Not sure why this was, but perhaps because most canned fruit has added sugar.
So let me harp a bit more. When we analyze this data, we see this is one more raise-the-flag moment for the Mediterranean diet. It’s one more reason my wife, Penny, and I now shop more often to get really fresh produce. It’s one more reason to visit the farmers’ market. The other reason, of course, is because it’s so much fun.
Dear Doc: Would you suggest foods with whole grains for a person with a hiatal hernia? I really love them, but I’m worried I’m doing more harm than good. – M. Way, El Paso
Dear M.: Yes, you can eat all the whole grains you want. As you know, the fewer processed foods you eat, the better off you are. Whole grains cut the risk of colon cancer, help keep your bowels at the right consistency and cut down on heart disease.
Many people with a hiatal hernia also have gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), which causes reflux acid in the esophagus. It’s especially bothersome at night. So have your dinner early.
Dr. Zorba Paster hosts a radio program at 3 p.m. Saturdays on WBFO-FM 88.7; email him at email@example.com.